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Jeff Weaver and Arthur Rhodes are about to sign with Seattle, so the M's should be in good shape to win the division -- Oh, wait, it's not 1999 any more ... Willie Randolph re-upped with the Mets at double the salary -- imagine if he'd actually won something! ...

Glendon Rusch has been released by the Cubbies, so he joins the still-available open market with other Names You Probably Know like Gabe Kapler, Phil Nevin, Eddie Guardado, Tony Armas, Jr. and hey, ex-Jay hotshot Steve Karsay ...

What else?

From the Spare Transactions File, Part II ... | 78 comments | Create New Account
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Jdog - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 02:45 PM EST (#162658) #

Well Rotoworld is reporting the following,

Blue Jays are going to prepare Scott Downs as a starter coming out of spring training, they mention he is still most likely to pitch in relief and this is just being done because it is much easier to transition him back to relief rather than the other way around.

They also are reporting that the Jays plan on using Halladay less in Spring training to save more of the miles on his arm for the games that count.

Thats all i got

Pistol - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 02:56 PM EST (#162660) #
Well, Rotoworld doesn't actually report, they recycle in a nice tidy package.

Here's the original article from the Sun today.

Glevin - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 02:58 PM EST (#162661) #
I think Kapler officially retired so is not really available.
paulf - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 03:11 PM EST (#162663) #
Kapler is mentioned as retired in this bio page.
I remember when he was a central piece of the Juan Gonzalez trade. ESPN mag even gave him the Ken Griffey Jr. treatment, breaking down his "perfect swing". Unfortunately, he never came close to the promise he showed in AA in 1998 (322/393/583 in 547 AB). What happened?

Mike Green - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 03:33 PM EST (#162664) #
Think sabermetric thinking was invented by Bill James?  Branch Rickey?  Perhaps not.

Check out this 100 year old article published by Tango on his blog and unearthed by Baseball Fever. Now, I wonder when the first reference to on-base percentage, or some similar concept, occurred.

Noah - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 03:38 PM EST (#162665) #
Glendon Rusch might be an interesting guy to take on if he was willing to sign a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.  I remember a time when he was one of the Jays annual trade deadline targets.  He showed some promise back in the day, who knows if he could find it now.  He's certainly not something you rely on but to bring him in on a minor league deal there's no harm done if he flames out because you can just cut him at the end of the spring.
Mike Green - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 03:42 PM EST (#162666) #
Rusch has a serious blood clot condition that makes him unlikely to pitch in 2007.
Nick - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 04:11 PM EST (#162670) #

Kapler will manage the Red Sox South Atlantic League club in Greenville this summer.

John Northey - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 04:21 PM EST (#162673) #
I recall back when I was in university reading an article from the 1800's (gotta love microfilm and being trapped on campus during weekends) where the author was using walks plus hits divided by plate appearances for batting average (pre-NL, maybe even pre-NA).  Sadly it was over 10 years ago so I cannot recall any details beyond that.  I think someone back then even used all ways of reaching (walks, hits, reached on FC, reached on error, hit by pitch, etc) divided by plate appearances since few hit doubles or more, but errors were plentiful (very poor, if any, gloves were used) and it could be viewed as a skill to reach via error (hit the ball hard enough so they cannot hold it, and/or enough speed to reach base).
rotorose - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 05:38 PM EST (#162678) #
In the 1870's and 1880's, the rules of baseball changed frequently. For
example, in  1876 a hitter was charged with an at bat every time he
walked, but that rule was rescinded in 1877. However, it was
re-instated in 1887 and each walk was scored as a hit, so that batting
averages soared. The rule was rescinded again the next year and all
averages were recalculated after 1968 using modern rules for
calculating batting averages.  It wasn't until 1920 (the year when the
RBI became an official statistic) that batters were not charged with an
at bat for a sacrifice fly or sacrifice bunt.  Batters were credited
with stolen bases for every time they advanced a base (eg on a fly out
or ground out) until 1898. (all facts from the MLB book "The Rules of
Flex - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 06:49 PM EST (#162681) #
Not that I'm mono-focused on Alan Ashby or anything, but if you're curious as to how Ashby sounds when he's talking about baseball, I've located an audio clip of him talking with the Houston Sports Radio 610 morning guys, recorded in July/06. They call him "Ash."

Sounds pretty good, and quite articulate. I've seen some criticism of Ashby's colour style as being a little too laid-back, one blog used the nickname "Dead-Air Ashby" but I don't hear any evidence of that here. I hear a guy who's working hard, and I suspect that's what we're going to get. Most importantly, we're getting a well-spoken baseball man who knows what the heck he's talking about.

Geoff - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 07:03 PM EST (#162682) #
What is the story on Ronnie Belliard? Has he landed anywhere? Any rumoured suitors?

SheldonL - Friday, January 26 2007 @ 08:51 PM EST (#162687) #

Blue Jays are going to prepare Scott Downs as a starter coming out of spring training

Praise the Lord! JDog, you just absolutely made my day, heck, you've made my weekend!

Gibby's going to have alot of work this spring compared to last year when he knew who his 24 guys were and only had to decide on the last guy(turned out to be Pete Walker, a guy I would love the Jays to bring back on a try-out but I would have much too much respect to string him along...).

He's got 8 guys auditioning for 2 rotation spots and some of them plus others like Accardo, Romero, Rosario and Tallet vying for 4 spots after Ryan, Frasor and League! Then there's the back-up catcher's duel and to a lesser degree the rounding out of the bench. I can't wait til March!

China fan - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 08:27 AM EST (#162691) #

   Interesting analysis in Friday's Star about the performance of bargain-bin free-agent pitchers last year.  Since the Jays have signed two of this category of pitcher for 2007, and since they could be relying heavily on bargain-bin pickups for 40 per cent of the starting rotation this year, it's interesting to look at how these kinds of acquisitions fared in 2006.   The Star looked at 10 of the bargain signings of last year who had an average base salary of $1.45-million.   The average for the 10 pitchers was 113 innings pitched and five-and-a-half wins.  Not bad, but not great.  A separate chart shows that almost all of the 10 pitchers had ERAs of between 5 and 6.6.   Not very encouraging.

   The Star takes a more optimistic spin by focussing on the Colorado Rockies, who signed Josh Fogg and Byung-Hyun Kim from the bargain bin.  They totalled 327 innings pitched and 19 wins last year -- pretty good numbers, although their ERAs were around 5.5. 

   I'm sure the Jays will be ecstatic if they get 19 wins and 327 innings pitched from Thomson and Ohka this year.  But those were definitely the exceptions, not the rule, last year -- as the Star's own research confirms.

  Here is the link to the story:

Wildrose - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 10:28 AM EST (#162692) #
Solid Big Hurt interview.
ramone - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 11:31 AM EST (#162693) #

Apparently the Rockies are talking with the redsox about trading helton for possibly Craig Hansen and two prospects.  This would not be good for the Jays, that would be one scary lineup. 

lexomatic - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 11:51 AM EST (#162694) #
beat me to that sox-rox trade...
that would eb a terrifyign lineup, all those walks. i hope it doesn't go through.
Chuck - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 11:55 AM EST (#162695) #

I would imagine that a broken down 33/34-year old Helton would still likely present an upgrade over a healthy, 28-year old Youkilis, but would that incremental upgrade warrant the cost? Wouldn't those dollars be better used where they could provide more leverage?

Chuck - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 12:06 PM EST (#162696) #

Should the Red Sox acquire Helton, that would make Hinske all the more redundant on that roster, with Youkilis sliding into the backup 1B/3B role. Maybe the Jays could get Hinske back and drop Stairs? This has been discussed before, but Hinske would be a versatile supersub and could easily log between 200 and 300 AB.

As I see it, the Red Sox roster will be composed as follows:
C (2): Varitek, Mirabelli
DH (1): Ortiz
1B/3B (3) : Helton, Lowell, Youkilis
2B/SS (3): Pedroia, Lugo, Cora
OF (4): Ramirez, Crisp, Drew, Pena

If they intend to carry 12 pitchers (and who doesn't these days?), there's no room for Hinske.

Mike Green - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 12:45 PM EST (#162698) #
Is Todd Helton a better player than Kevin Youkilis at this point in his career?  If so, the difference taking into account both offence and defence is not large.  Youkilis is a heckuva 1B/3B/DH backup.
Pistol - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 12:45 PM EST (#162699) #
I would think the Sox would move Youkilis back to 3B and trade Lowell.  The Rockies would probably want to flip-flop those players.  (Now that they traded Shealy to the Royals they don't have a 1B prospect that's close do they?)

Of course, in a move like this there's so much money involved it's hard to project who might be traded.

CaramonLS - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 01:18 PM EST (#162700) #
Pistol, I'd assume Atkins would be moved to 1B, he has been described as a much more natural 1B than he ever has played at 3B.
Mylegacy - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 01:24 PM EST (#162701) #

On the Todd Helton talks...

Here's a tidbit I picked up on a link from the MLB Rockies site Bio-Page of Todd; "A back problem that flared before the 2005 season, a strained calf muscle that sent him to the disabled list late that season, and a stomach ailment last season (06) that forced him to the DL early and robbed him of strength and power all year led to the health concerns."

Also Rotoworld is LESS than enthusistic, mentioning that the Yourkster had the same away from home OBP as did Todd.

Todd is still an interesting player BUT this guy is not the monster he used to be, he is a shadow of his former self. No big deal if the Sox get him.

lexomatic - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 03:58 PM EST (#162705) #
Todd is still an interesting player BUT this guy is not the monster he used to be, he is a shadow of his former self. No big deal if the Sox get him.
even as a shadow of his former self i could reasonably see a 330 avg 420 OBP with like 45-50 2b and 12-20 HR over a full season. it's the fenway effect. add that to the sox lineup and it's scary. he could also wind up on the DL tons and hit like bad-Mientkiewicz. i still think its' reasonable to expect a good AVG/OBP and tons of 2B.
Malcolm Little - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 05:03 PM EST (#162707) #

If the Helton deal happened, how likely would a Hinske release be?

I mean, that team's got plenty outfielders and corners already, and it's not like they're looking for a DH.

I'd welcome Hinske back with open arms. I've been an official Batters Box chicken little on 3B depth this offseason.

actionjackson - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 05:34 PM EST (#162708) #
China fan, that's exactly the kind of mainstream media "analysis" that drives me nuts. Columnists for the most part should stick to writing and avoid statistics like the plague, unless they understand them and how to use them to improve our understanding of the game. What's the common denominator amongst those 10 pitchers- the fact that they were bargain basement pickups in the '05-'06 offseason. Ugh! Let's conveniently ignore the wide range in ability of these pitchers from Byung-Hyun Kim and Rick Helling (who doesn't even start anymore, except on an emergency basis) on down to Victor Santos and Joe Mays.

Thomson and Ohka are definitely closer to the better pitchers in this "analysis". In fact if you look at ERA+, which accounts for ballpark, league etc better than some of the measures out there, (but is limited by it's founding stat ERA and it's flaws) Thomson has not had an ERA+ under 90 since an injury plagued 8+ ERA season with Colorado in 1999, while Ohka last had one in 2001 while tossing 52 1/3 innings for the Red Sox prior to being traded to Montreal and in 1999 he also had one while pitching 13 innings for the Red Sox. An ERA+ of 100 is league average adjusted for ballpark, league etc. That's it, neither of them has been under 90 other than that in any season. In other words, they've been pretty steady. Every team gets their own ERA+ based on home park, league etc. I'm not sure how it's calculated, but you match the individual pitchers up against the team's ERA+ and compare using percentages. So Ohka's career ERA+ of 111 means he has been 11% better than the ERA+ of the teams he's pitched on and Thomson's 103 means he's been 3% better than the ERA+ of the teams he's pitched on in his career. Every one of the pitchers in the Star's "analysis" was below 90 in 2006, except Rick Helling, who pitched 35 innings in 20 appearances, 2 of them starts. In 2005, only Kim, Santos, and Helling were able to stay above 90. Helling did not pitch in 2004 and had an ERA+ of 84 in 2003.

The point is the pitchers in this sample of 10 bargain bin pitchers snagged in the '05-'06 off-season are not exactly the cream of the crop and I think it's like comparing apples to oranges. Thomson and Ohka have been much steadier than any of them. The one season he was in the AL in 2003, Thomson's ERA+ was 102 with the Texas Rangers. In Ohka's 3 partial seasons in the AL from 1999-2001, his cumulative ERA+ was approx. 104. The last 3 seasons, Thomson has had a cumulative ERA+ of 106, while Ohka's has been 105. They have both declined, but they've both had significant injuries. Thomson went from 116 to 98 to 91, while Ohka's gone from 122 to 103 to 93. That's something to watch for and they're also switching from the NL to the AL, which is always tough on a pitcher. At worst, I see them having an ERA+ of 90, which based on the ERA+ of the Jays over the last three seasons of approx. 4.67, would work out to 5.15 to 5.20. More likely, I would guess 95, which would be somewhere around 4.90 to 4.95. I think 327 innings combined is wishful, more like 250 combined, although with Ohka's rotator cuff this could drop. It's difficult to project wins, but with this offense, they could get quite a few. I'll say 250 innings and 15 wins combined, with room for improvement should they stay healthy. The main reason I'm happy to have them is that they're close to league average in IP per start, so every time they're able to answer the bell, they should be able to help the bullpen. That's one thing the kids had trouble doing last year. Keeping the bullpen from getting gassed is the ability I hope to see from the two of them, after all the bullpen will only be as good as the starters allow them to be.

PhilBlunt - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 05:47 PM EST (#162709) #

That Thomas article is pretty solid actually.  I know the cliche and how everybody says they're in the best shape etc but it's good to know he ain't sitting around.  It's funny, I obviously know he's on the Jays but I sometimes I remember again -- after reading about all the other signings/trades -- that he is actually on the Jays.  I've always been a fan and hope he holds up his end of the contract.  Winter in Winnipeg is killing me, only two months of so til opening day. 
VBF - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 06:05 PM EST (#162710) #

From the Thomas interview:

Frank Thomas to Jays fans: "Buckle Your Seatbelts!"

If the marketing department doesn't take that quote and make it the slogan of the 2007 Toronto Blue Jays there's something seriously wrong here.

Ron - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 06:17 PM EST (#162712) #
Who's left in free agency?

Tony Armas Jr., Bernie Williams, Steve Trachsel, Mark Redman, Preston Wilson, David Bell, Phil Nevin, Rick Helling, Steve Finley, Ronnie, Belliard, and Edgardo Alfonzo.

Belliard, Bell, Armas Jr., and Redman must be disappointed they are still on the open market. I wouldn't mind having Bell as a backup to Glaus but too bad he can't play another position besides 3B.

Chuck - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 06:29 PM EST (#162714) #

even as a shadow of his former self i could reasonably see a 330 avg 420 OBP with like 45-50 2b and 12-20 HR over a full season. it's the fenway effect.

The humidor effect notwithstanding, Coors is still a pretty good place to hit (though, admittedly, not what it once was). It's hard to imagine Fenway helping Helton more than Coors.

actionjackson - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 06:40 PM EST (#162717) #
That is one steaming pile of free agent bleccchhh! Bring back Hinske for corner IF/OF backup. The bench right now is Stairs, McDonald, Smith, and Phillips. Truthfully, I don't see a backup OF there, and I'm not sure there's a backup 3B either. If you're not going to bring back Hinske, at least find some corner IF/OF types and bring them in on minor league deals and let McDonald and Smith duke it out for #25. I love Stairs' bat, but jeez, with Thomas, and Glaus (when he needs a break) already DH types the last thing we need is a third on a roster that features 13 position players. Chone Figgins, come on down. Seriously how many Figgins, Tony Phillips types are left in the league these days? Maybe that's what we could turn Russ Adams into, jack of all trades, master of none. Unless he gets his bat going, it's a little too close to the days of Dave ("Ice") Berg for my taste though.
China fan - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 09:35 PM EST (#162725) #

  Actionjackson, you are focusing on the career record of Thomson and Ohka, and you are saying that their career record is more important than the injuries they suffered in 2006 and the continued uncertainty that those injuries have created for their chances in 2007.   But no general manager in the major leagues could afford to think that way.   The health and reliability of a pitcher is a key factor in determining his value to any team.  In fact, the Star's analysis is interesting because it looks at the MARKET VALUE of the 10 pitchers, which is similar to the market value of Thomson and Ohka because the injuries to Thomson and Ohka have affected their value.  Major-league managers have assigned a value of between $500,000 to $1.5-million to all of these pitchers, including Thomson and Ohka and the 10 pitchers last year, so it is not a comparison of apples and oranges.  You're trying to say that you are smarter than all of the major-league managers and that you are confident that Thomson and Ohka are worth much more than any of the 10 free-agent pitchers last year who got similar salaries.  Perhaps you are right -- there's always a chance -- but you must at least concede that the Star's comparison has some analytical value.   If Thomson and Ohka have lost some of their pitching ability because of injuries in the past 12 months, their career record is not very relevant.

Mylegacy - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 09:56 PM EST (#162727) #

As a matter of interest (to some) Todd Helton's overall 2006 stats were 302/404/476 his splits:

Home 338/445/531  Away: 266/360/421

Quite a difference.

Interestingly, if he was replacing Lowell (with Youkilis moving from 1st to 3rd to let Todd play 1st), Lowells overall 2006 stats were 284/339/475 and his splits were: Home: 260/327/436 Away: 310/352/514

What does all this mean? It means we've got just too many d*mn numbers to think about. 

Mylegacy - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 10:18 PM EST (#162728) #

Frank Thomas' splits from 2006:

Home:  242/347/549 OPS: 896

Away:    302/417/541 OPS: 958

This guy is gonna mash with the Jays HOME and AWAY!

Newton - Saturday, January 27 2007 @ 11:10 PM EST (#162729) #

If Hill is capable of playing a reasonable big league SS,  a role JP was considering for him earlier in the offseason. signing Belliard would help in a variety of ways:

a) It would remove the rally-busting hole at SS in our lineup;

b) Having Hill, Belliard, and one of the existing SS options on the roster would allow Hill to spot Glaus at 3rd base if necessary;

c)  Hill has far more value to the franchise at SS than he does at 2nd base. This offseason has shown that established  2nd baseman are far cheaper than established SS. 

Such a move would be predicated on an assessment of Hill's defensive capabilities but a kid that athletic should be given a chance to establish himself as a big league SS, particularly when the current alternatives are so lacklustre offfensively.

actionjackson - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 01:39 AM EST (#162731) #
I did not say that Thomson and Ohka had a huge market value compared to the others. Obviously, their health has brought their market value way down. But, they have demonstrated more skill and more consistency when healthy than any of those guys as demonstrated by the fact that Ohka's ERA+ has not slipped below 90 in the last 5 consecutive seasons, healthy or not, while Thomson's ERA+ has not slipped below 90 in the last 7 consecutive years, healthy or not. I did mention that both pitchers had had declining ERA+ in each year from '04-'06 and that is a huge concern given that Thomson is 33 and Ohka is 31. The risk you take with these two is more a risk of health and age than it is of pitching ability. If their health is there and they don't decline again (not a safe bet at all), they will be competent #4, and #5 starters who will eat more innings than the kids were able to last year, thus saving the bullpen. I also set a target of 250 innings and 15 wins between the two of them, with a combined ERA anywhere from 4.90 to 5.20, which I think is reasonable and not something you would go and pay much for. These are low risk cheap moves that could really pay off, or not and if they don't you're only out $3-8 million and they don't come back in '08.

My point about the chart was what the heck is the writer grouping these pitchers together other than their salary level? Why not group them according to what they've done on the field? There's such a wide range in the quality of pitching in that group and if Thomson and Ohka were in it, they would have to be towards the top in terms of pitching ability. I only consider Kim and Helling (who doesn't start anymore) to be close to Thomson and Ohka in ability. Other than that there's a bunch of #5 starters, emergency starters, long relievers, and guys I don't want to be my 12th man. Surely, you must agree that what drives down the price of Thomson and Ohka is their health, not their ability. The same cannot be said for Fogg, Armas, Moehler, Santos, Astacio, Ponson, and Mays. This is the kind of low cost veteran starter acquisition I like to see. Why put money into someone whose absolute ceiling is as a #5 starter? Thomson and Ohka, if things break right, could be #3s. You would never say that of the 7 I mentioned above. Why pay for chaff?

It will take a while to see whether these two can handle the rigours of the AL East, during which time some combination of Marcum, Towers, Janssen, McGowan etc can try to put it together (though Marcum is pretty much there now) at Syracuse, ready to step in, should the M*A*S*H unit known as the '07 Blue Jays starting rotation suffer a setback, injury or otherwise. As stated before these guys, if nothing else, can help save the bullpen more than the kids were able to last year. There's no need to worry about the kids getting buried either. There will be injuries and the fill-ins are there. Depth is good. I would like to see more depth at the corner IF-OF positions though. That is something to worry about.

Ryan C - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 02:00 AM EST (#162732) #
Wow great Thomas interview.  How can you not be hopelessly optimistic about this season after reading that?

Oh and Thomas wants to play 3-4 more years eh?  How cool would it be to see him hit his 600th dinger in a Blue Jay uniform.

China fan - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 03:16 AM EST (#162733) #

    Actionjackson -- here's what we agree on:  Thomson and Ohka have the ability to be #3 starters -- if their health allows it.   But it's a gamble, because their health is unpredictable and they could be complete busts.   If their health doesn't work out, they won't even make the rotation.  They have a big upside and a big downside.   Does this make them more valuable than a solid predictable #5 starter?   Not necessarily.   You like the signings of Thomson and Ohka because you're fixated on their career performances and you think that the gamble will work.    I like the signings too, but only because I'm an optimist by nature.  The Jays tried to get Lilly and Meche, who would have been much less unpredictable than Thomson and Ohka, but they failed, so now they are really rolling the dice.  Let's at least admit that it's a very unpredictable gamble. 

    As long as you're fixated on the upside of Thomson and Ohka, you could give some credit to the Star article, which mentioned several scrap-heap reclamation projects of past history who succeeded brilliantly:  Chris Carpenter, Pete Schourek and Dave Stewart, all acquired for minimal cost who went on to be among the top pitchers in their league (for a season or two, anyway).    I suppose there's even a chance that Thomson and Ohka could follow that route. 

    I'd like to know more about how the Jays make a medical assessment of pitchers such as Thomson, Ohka, Burnett, Carpenter, etc.     Medical analysis is becoming so crucial in this game.  If you guess wrong (Carpenter), the team will be kicking itself for years.  If you guess right, you can end up with a great pitcher for a minimal price.  

lexomatic - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 10:10 AM EST (#162736) #
ok i looked back at what i posted and realized not 100 % clear.
i don't think it's unreasonable or would be too shocking to see Helton hit for a high average with lots of walks and doubles. look what Fenway did for Lowell (splits aside) and remember that Helton was a better hitter to begin with, and that he is the type of player who COULD excel by just pinging the ball off teh wall all the time. i would thing that the most likely season by Helton at thsi point though would be like Mietkiewicz's 2 good seasons with betterplate discipline & 40+ doubles. that's not great for that money, but then it all depends on whether money is an object and whether it improves the team ( probably not by much really if you include defense but whatever). my original point was strictly that i don't' expect him to be useless even with the decline caused by injury + age.
i think next time i'll write out the above then edit it to be clear, but i'm going out for brunch now,
also finally read that thomas interview and it's great. i'm encouraged for 400+ AB this year
PaulE-O - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 10:23 AM EST (#162737) #
what is this stat ERA+ ..? I've never heard that before
garth - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 11:07 AM EST (#162738) #

The signings of ohka and thomson remind me of the signing of Frank Castillo a few years back.  A 31 year old injury riddled pitcher signed for cheap on a one year contract .  We ended up getting 138 innings out of him with 10 wins and 5 losses.  It was a signing that could have gone either way.  In the end Frank was one of the better pitchers the Jays had that year.

I see a very good chance that we will get a similar performance from one of these two, while the other rides the DL.  If this happens the signing were still smart as the cost was low.  I would be very shocked if both pitchers disapointed.


Flex - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 11:57 AM EST (#162739) #
The signings of ohka and thomson remind me of the signing of Frank Castillo a few years back.

That's a terrific comparison. I'd forgotten all about Castillo, but indeed he made a big contribution that year. In fact I was surprised, looking back at the stats, that he was here for only one season.
SheldonL - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 12:16 PM EST (#162740) #

Frank Castillo pitched very well for us in 2000(I believe) and it's a shame that he chose to sign elsewhere with Boston or Chicago(one of the sox) because he just sort of dropped of the map. What happened to his career post-Jays?
I can't believe that Ron Belliard is still available - perhaps GM's around major league baseball are realizing that second sackers/shortstops generally don't hit well so they may aswell try out youngsters within their systems and hope that they hit the jackpot (Cano) on something. I think Belliard could be had for a Bengie Molina type deal one year $3-4 mil to re-establish himself for next FA crop. He could provide solid D and 10-15 homers, 30-40 doubles, a .270-.280 average with a good slug. perc. for a middle-infielder(.420-.450).
I would definitely love to have Eric Hinske back since we're paying some $2 mil of his salary anyway. It'll be reassuring to have a bench of Hinske, Clayton(assuming Belliard signs and Hill stays at short), Fasano(stache!), J-Mac(Mr. Prime Minister).
I just noticed an interesting stat(one that's been sitting in front of me forever really): Johnson hit .319 in 461 AB, he only trailed off toward the end of the season in August and Semptember, which we can only attribute to the "laws" of averages. That is, it would have been practically inconceivable that he would continue to bat .340 through the last two months of the season. Nevertheless, I think if he had been a full-time player(500-550 AB's) and had he maintained say a .280 batting average(about his career average before last year), he would have finished with .312(if he maintained a .270 average which is unarguably his floor, he would have finished with .310). That's fantastic because when you take into account his .294 rookie average in 414 AB's and the growing pains of 2004/2005 where he batted roughly .270 over 935 AB's, this guy is certainly a .300 hitter. So perhaps we should stick with Reed Johnson for a full season - he deserves a chance - and let Lind(who arguably just had a hot streak to start his career which is not unlikely for some hitters: see Reed Johnson's first 3 months April-June '03, he batted .325 in 140 AB's & Aaron Hill's first 2 months May-June'03, he batted .358 in 131 AB's) play a full season at AAA.
If Johnson is for real as his 2006 season promises, we might have a stud here: how many .300 outfielders can also boast his versatility and above-average defense! This could also answer what some see as worries about Lind's eventual position as he can become our full-time DH in 2008, which supposes that his 2007 AAA season is a success. At this point Frank Thomas can either be dealt if his 2007 season is a success or stay as power hitter who comes off the bench frequently in pinch-hit situations(more like once every game!).


Glevin - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 12:22 PM EST (#162741) #

"My point about the chart was what the heck is the writer grouping these pitchers together other than their salary level? Why not group them according to what they've done on the field?"

Because the article was about cheap starting pitchers not about cheap starting pitchers with higher ERA+. Ohka and Thomson are both huge health risks with declining K rates and were not exactly aces to begin with anyway. I like the signings, because they are cheap and carry low risk, but I don't think they are somehow way above guys like Fogg, Armas, and Helling just because they had a good ERA+ in the NL a few years ago. Both these guys (who are over 30) had ERAs of 4.82 and had major injuries while pitching in the weaker league.

 "Why put money into someone whose absolute ceiling is as a #5 starter? Thomson and Ohka, if things break right, could be #3s. You would never say that of the 7 I mentioned above. Why pay for chaff?"

Because sometimes you just need someone to eat innings and it isn't as though the upside for Ohka or Thomson is somehow much higher than that of Armas or Fogg anyway.  If you are expecting Ohka or Thomson to be #3 starters, you are going to be dissapointed. These guys were cheap for a reason beyond just being injured. I'd be suprised if either one has an ERA under 5.00.

Mylegacy - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 12:31 PM EST (#162742) #

Garth, I like the Frank Castillo analogy. ONLY, instead of one chance (Frank), we've got two chances to hit lightening in a bottle with both Ohka and Thomson. Also, both appear EAGER to return to effectiveness. With apologies to Bing Crosby, "Thou it's been said many times many ways..." it would be GREAT if both blossomed!

SheldonL, I share your "Buckle your seatbelts" enthusiam! But one minor friendly point; since you thought that the question of what happened to Frank after he left the Jays was interesting enough to ask the question...why not Google him and find out and then share it with the rest of us? That way WE get your editorial comments AND your reporting. The rest of us win two ways!

VBF - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 09:53 PM EST (#162743) #

CBC Interested in Jays

TSN is expected to televise between 20 and 30 Toronto Blue Jays games this year. A well-placed source said the CBC is interested in acquiring a game-of-the-week package. About 145 games in total will be carried on television, with Rogers Sportsnet picking up the bulk.

I would definitely enjoy hearing Brian Williams covering the odd Saturday game. It would certainly help CBC Sports' deteriorating sports coverage.

Lefty - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 10:44 PM EST (#162744) #
I thought Brian Williams moved over to CTV when the CBC lost the Olympics. Maybe they could use Bob Cole and Harry Neale. Bring in Don Chevrier and Fergy Oliver?
Samir - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 11:18 PM EST (#162745) #
Picking up Belliard at this point might be doing him a favour, similar to the situation with Molina last year. If it can be done at a reasonable price, why not... but I don't think the Jays should spend more than $4M for the upgrade. That money might be needed later in the season to shore up the pitching.
ayjackson - Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 11:56 PM EST (#162746) #
I thought Brian Williams moved over to CTV when the CBC lost the Olympics. Maybe they could use Bob Cole and Harry Neale. Bring in Don Chevrier and Fergy Oliver?   More likely Jim Hughson....which would be very nice.  Fly in Fletch every Saturday home game?  Baseball Night in Canada?
actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 03:50 AM EST (#162747) #
PaulE-O: Explanation of adjusted ERA (ERA+) can be found here. Let's say you have a pitcher with a 4.56 ERA (AL average) who pitched for Kansas City last year and a pitcher with a 4.49 ERA (NL average) who pitched for San Diego last year. The pitcher with the 4.56 ERA has a much better ERA+ than the pitcher with the 4.49 ERA (keeping in mind that ERA is flawed as a stat due to home town scoring, but I digress) because KC was the toughest park to pitch in, while SD was the easiest. The pitcher with the 4.56 ERA has an ERA+ of 106, while the pitcher with the 4.49 ERA has an ERA+ of 94, where 100 is considered league average. A number greater than 100 is a better than league average ERA, and less than 100 is a worse than league average ERA. It creates a level playing field for ERA. This web site has ERA+ for pitchers and OPS+ for hitters (same idea: to level the playing field for On Base Plus Slugging Percentage). If you want to know the mechanics behind it, you need to know KC's league ERA, which is league ERA adjusted for their hitter's haven. Their adjusted league ERA is 4.84. So, you take your 4.56 ERA and divide by 4.84 and then hit the 1/x key on your calculator and multiply by 100 to remove the decimal place. Round it off to the nearest whole number and there's your ERA+. Or you could just look it up on BBRef, suit yourself.

China fan, I cringe when I hear people say the Jays screwed up with Carpenter. I prefer to say Carpenter bucked the odds and worked his ass off to come back from a torn labrum, which somewhere less than 10% of the pitchers with the injury have managed to do, let alone so dominantly. In 2002 he was paid $3.45 million. I'm not sure if he was a free agent after that or if it was his last arb-eligible year. In the case of arbitration, the Jays could not have cut his salary by more than 20%, which would take it to $2.76 million for a pitcher that probably wasn't going to pick up a ball in 2003 (and didn't) and maybe not ever again on a payroll that featured Delgado for $19 million and 24 other players for roughly $31 million. It just didn't make sense. Whatever the case may be they outrighted him to Syracuse and as is his right under the CBA, he became a free agent, and signed with St. Louis for $300,000. During that year off, he had a lot of pain from the scar tissue from the surgery, so much so that he came home to Maine ready to quit, but apparently his wife talked him out of it. After the 2002 season, his record was 49-50, with a 4.83 ERA, so he hadn't exactly been lighting it up even when healthy. It's the kind of move that gets made every day by major league teams and extremely rarely does it come back to bite them. The odds against this happening were astronomical, and yet it did. Be happy for Chris Carpenter, but don't blame JP for making a decision that any other GM would have, or do if you want to hold a grudge. The baseball road is littered with pitchers who never made it back from this devastating injury. I will not blame any GM for not being able to be a Monday morning quarterback before handicapping Sunday's games. Life don't work that way. Good for Carpenter, good for the Cardinals, move on.

Thomson and Ohka are nice scrap heap pick-ups, but I don't for a minute think they will morph into Dave Stewart circa 1987-1990, Pete Schourek circa 1995, or the Chris Carpenter of the last three seasons. At their best they will be #3s and at their worst, they will be injured and the Jays will move back to Marcum, Towers, Janssen, McGowan etc. JP has more likely collected a bunch of #4 and #5 pitchers in the hope that somebody can pretend to be a #3 until he can acquire one. They didn't give up any talent and very little money, so I don't see the harm in it. I never said they were Cy Young winners in the making, but I do expect more than a combined 11 wins, 225 innings and 5.75 ERA (approximate averages of the 10 pitchers from that article in 2006). That's what chafed me about the article. For me, it seemed to be saying: "Well this is all these teams got from these ten pitchers, so that's all you can expect from Thomson and Ohka." Maybe I read stuff into it that wasn't there. Maybe I'm paranoid that the Star is always attacking my favourite team. Whatever the case I didn't mean to offend you, I just didn't care for the article much.

Glevin, yes the article was about cheap pitching signings, but then as I said above it seemed to be averaging the wins, IP and ERA of these pitchers and making a leap that that's all we could expect from Thomson and Ohka, despite the fact that #6 and #7 starters like Moehler, Mays, Astacio, and Ponson were being included and they are awful by any measure you care to use. I would put  Fogg, Kim,  Santos, and Armas the next level up with Ohka, Wright and Thomson a nudge above. Helling I leave out because he doesn't start much anymore and the Jays are looking for starters. So, Ohka, Wright and Thomson are 4/5s who could temporarily pretend to be 3s, but would probably get exposed.

Of the declining K rates of Thomson and Ohka, I ask how can you decline at a skill you never had in the first place? Thomson's worst ever season for K rate was 1999. I assume he was injured because he missed all of 2000 and then came back in '01 to post his best ever. His 2006 K rate was not as low as his 1999 K rate and his yearly K rate has followed quite a crooked path although it has declined the last 2 years. It has gone up, down, year off, up, down, up, up, down, down. I wouldn't be willing to place a bet as to which way it will go this year, but if healthy he might be able to raise it again. Ohka's 2006 K rate is almost exactly the same as his 1999 K rate. He's been up and down like a yo-yo and yet has always managed to have a modest level of success, to go with that modest amount of strikeouts. He's gone up, up, up, down, down, up, down. Neither of these guys has ever been confused with Nolan Ryan, but they've managed to carve out their mid to back of the rotation niches in spite of it. They're also on those incentive laden contracts which you kind of wish all contracts in baseball could be, but if life were like that, you wouldn't need your VISA... They're both hoping to cash in with big years this year and move on to greener pastures.

I can't believe you brought up the name Tony Armas Jr. and the term "innings eater" in the same sentence. Not to trivialize an extremely serious medical condition, but in terms of "innings eaters" Tony Armas Jr. is an anorexic. The Nationals grew sick and tired of him not being able to get them through the 5th inning the last few years and over the last 3 years, out of pitchers who made at least 50 starts, he has the fewest IP/S with 5.04. Good luck to whoever signs him and I'm glad we didn't. Byung-Hyun Kim and Jamey Wright are the only 2 in the group of 10 + our 2 who have increased their IP/S from '04 to '05 and '05 to '06, and only Wright can truly be called an "innings eater" as he's averaged just over 6 innings a start over the last 3 years. *Sigh* They just don't make 'em like they used to.

Marc Hulet - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 12:09 PM EST (#162749) #
Some good news on the newspaper front: The Globe & Mail is expanding their baseball coverage for the 2007 season with reporter Robert McLeod joining Jeff Blair to help cover the Jays and Larry Millson will also continue to contribute. I don't have a link but I heard it directly from the sports editor of the Globe. I know a lot of Jays fans prefer the Globe for baseball news, so this should only improve things.
Craig B - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 12:21 PM EST (#162750) #
Marc, if that's true I'm going to start taking the Globe in addition to my hometown paper and I plan to let them know the reason.  Thanks for the catch!
China fan - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 12:28 PM EST (#162751) #

    Curt Schilling says he will pitch in 2007.    He's cancelled his retirement plans.  If he can't work out a deal with the Red Sox, he will try for a deal with another team -- but not the Yankees.  God bless him.

    If not the Sox or Yankees, is there a fit with the Jays? 

    Here is the link.

China fan - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 12:33 PM EST (#162752) #

 I misread the story.  He's announced that he wants to pitch in 2008 instead of retiring in 2008.  We already know that he will pitch for the Sox in 2007.


actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 12:42 PM EST (#162753) #
He'd be 41 in 2008, but those high K-rate pitchers are supposed to age well. He also doesn't walk all. It would be nice, but he'll probably stay with the Red Sox. Still, you never know.
Original Ryan - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 01:46 PM EST (#162765) #
Schilling's decision to pitch in 2008 also quiets the talk that he might challenge John Kerry for his senate seat.
SheldonL - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 02:35 PM EST (#162768) #

China fan, I cringe when I hear people say the Jays screwed up with Carpenter

Well said, actionjackson! I really hope that this puts to rest all the trash that people talk about the Jays' supposedly poor handling of Carpenter. One could compare it to Glendon Rusch and the Cubbies. He is not going to pitch this year at all because he's recovering from a serious blood clot ailment. Knowing that, the Cubs chose to release. Similarly, Carpenter was a prospect (or atleast a young pitcher) who showed flashes but never consistently put together strong pitching lines. So that culminated the risk for the cost-conscious Jays who at the time were losing millions of dollars(a reported $50 mil during JP's first year). No one could have seriously predicted at the time that he would be an above average pitcher let alone a potential Cy Young winner after his recovery. We don't see Houston or Florida fanscomplaining about having passed on Johan Santana(I'd hope atleast). Hindsight's 20-20, right?

Mylegacy, thanks, I needed that. According to, Frank Castillo has retired. He spent 2003-05 primariy in AAA after posting a 5.07 ERA in 163 innings with Boston in '02. He pitched decently in the first two years in AAA (ERA of 4.25 approximately) but in '05 he faltered with Florida's AAA afiliate in Albuquerque with a 5.53 ERA in 143 innings. He did get a start with the Marlins where he went  4 1/3 innings with 4 hits surrendered, 5 walks and 5 runs. The lone bright spot was his 4 K's. He's currently 37 but I guess he must have felt that his time had passed.

I can help but think that he pitched his best season during the 2000 season as our number 2 starter behind Boomer. he pitched 138 innings in 24 starts and posted a very respectable 3.59 ERA. He held hitters to 112 hits for an exceptional WHIP of 1.21; he also had 104 K's. Just for fun, imagine his projected stats for a full season's worth 32 starts. His stats would have been about the same as Tim Hudson's and certainly better than Boomer's, both of whom finished 2nd and 3rd behind Pedro in Cy Young voting. What's even more intriguing is that the Jays fell short of the AL East crown by a mere 4 and a half wins(Yankees won 87 in 161 games). Certainly, a team that boasted 7 players with 20 or more homers could have scrounged up 88 wins. Perhaps an AL crown could have clinched an MVP award for Carlos Delgado who threatened for a Triple Crown all year. He arguably had a better year than the juiced up Giambino...oh my, what could have been with 8 more starts/62 more innings!

The Jays have 5 guys currently that could hit 20 homers, perhaps there is an outside chance of two more guys reaching the mark. Quick trivia question: name the 7 players in 2000 with 20 or more homers. It's an easy one - try not to cheat(ie. don't google it)...

SNB - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 02:45 PM EST (#162769) #
Batista, Fullmer, Cruz, Delgado, Fletcher, Mondesi...Gonzalez?
MatO - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 02:47 PM EST (#162770) #
Just to clarify, Carpenter was eligible for arbitration after the 2002 season and so he was non-tendered.  The Jays offered him a minor-league deal but the Cardinals gave him a major-league deal.  At the time there was not a peep from anyone about what the Jays did.  It was so obvious.  To my surprise, Dave Perkins of the Toronto Star wrote just that, after last year's World Series.
actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 03:05 PM EST (#162772) #
I got six of the seven, but I couldn't get the seventh without looking it up and I was shocked when I did. Those were exciting times down at the Rogers Centre er SkyDome. Good question SheldonL. As for Carpenter, it will never be put to rest, as long as the McCowns, Elliotts, and Griffins of the world are out there preaching to the congregation of Ye Olde Church of the Monday Morning Quarterback. I've always found Perkins to be the fairest of all the writers at the Star. It's refreshing to read someone without an agenda after all the Griffin/Baker garbage. Allan Ryan's OK too. But, Jeff Blair and Ken Fidlin, when he writes about baseball are #1 and #2 for me as far as GTA writers are concerned. Thanks for the clarification that it was arbitration and not free agency MatO.
VBF - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 03:06 PM EST (#162773) #
Shannon Stewart must have been one of those.
actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 03:12 PM EST (#162775) #
And the other 6, VBF?   ;)
VBF - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 03:29 PM EST (#162776) #

Oh, SNB got most of them. I find it hard to believe Gonzo ever posted 20, so I suppose Stewart replaces him, and I really don't believe Fletch ever got 20, but he must have. The outfield is covered, as is third base, first base and DH. Gonzo and Bush certainly didn't near 20, so through this reasoning, Fletch had to.


John Northey - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 04:01 PM EST (#162779) #
Looking back at that 2000 team it is amazing how the pitching staff went. 7 pitchers with 10 or more starts to go with the 7 hitters with 20 or more home runs. Sadly, having 7 guys start that often isn't as helpful.

Of those 7 the worst ERA was Roy Halladay, which one would think is good but not in this case. He had an ERA of 10.64 for an ERA+ of 47. Yup, 47. His worst other than that is the 116 posted in 2004. Can't imagine many pitchers have climbed 100 points in ERA+ from one year to the next with 10 or more starts both years but Roy did that with a 150 in 2001. Next worst was Chris Carpenter at 6.26 over 27 starts and 7 relief appearences. 3rd worst was Escobar at 5.35.

While Castillo was the best for ERA among guys with 10 or more starts, guess who had the best ERA for anyone who started that year? Also guess who had the next best after Castillo among starters. Two guys no one would guess without me saying they were two guys no one here would ever want on the team again. FYI: before someone guesses, David Wells was just a bit worse than Castillo and the two mystery men while finishing 3rd in Cy Young voting.

Y'know, the more I look at that staff the more I think someone screwed up the numbers on Baseball Reference, even though I know they didn't. Escobar/Carpenter/Halladay the 3 worst starters and Castillo, Wells, and one of the mystery guys the best with another guy we'd never invite back between them and the 3 who actually are still top flight pitchers.
Ryan C - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 04:04 PM EST (#162780) #
I was quite surprised as well.  Fletcher hit exactly 20 that year, and not only that he tied the club record with 3 grand slams.
actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 06:20 PM EST (#162785) #
Would they be those to wonderful *cough, cough* deadline acquisitions: E------ L----- and Steve "Slow as Molasses" Trachsel?
actionjackson - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 06:22 PM EST (#162786) #
1 right, 1 wrong. Somebody else give it a try.
vw_fan17 - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 08:43 PM EST (#162788) #
Erik Hansen?
VBF - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 09:32 PM EST (#162790) #

I remember hearing in the car about the excellence of Chris Michalek and having this opinion reinforced by my dad, saying he would be a part of the Jays successes. I also recall a young Brandon Lyon getting hot around these years, but I'm not totally sure if that would've been 2000.

Funny what the mind remembers: I remember the CBC Crew broadcasting Lyon's first start complete with the inning by inning reaction of his parents who had made the trip to Toronto.

Original Ryan - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 09:46 PM EST (#162791) #
While Castillo was the best for ERA among guys with 10 or more starts, guess who had the best ERA for anyone who started that year?

I had to look it up, largely because I had miraculously been able to block out the pitcher in question from my memory.

Thanks for reminding me about him, John.  :-(
John Northey - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 10:16 PM EST (#162792) #
OK, one has been identified (the one who shall not be named).  The other needs some hints as I suspected he would.

In 2000 this pitcher started 6 games and had an ERA of just 3.55 (ERA+ of 140).  It was his second year in Toronto after being traded for by the Jays sending someone who would be better than  him for almost every season after the trade.

As a dead giveaway - his last name matches a city near Toronto - a city that has big league dreams that shall never be fulfilled.

Bruce Wrigley - Monday, January 29 2007 @ 10:42 PM EST (#162794) #
That would be the weirdly named Johns Joseph Hamilton, straight outta the Georgia pines.
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