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It is expected to be confirmed today that Shaun Marcum will need to undergo Tommy John surgery, which would put him out of the lineup for approximately a year (which would really mean 17 months, until March 2010). Thanks to various posters for the heads up.


Obviously this is terrible news, and continues a particularly disturbing trend amongst Jays pitchers. In the last two-ish years:

Gustavo Chacin had elbow problems and missed much of 2006 and 2007,
B.J. Ryan has had TJ surgery and missed a year,
Brandon League missed essentially the entire 2007 season with a strength training injury,
Casey Janssen had surgery for a torn labrum and missed a year,
Dustin McGowan missed half a season with a labrum injury,
Jeremy Accardo missed much of this season with a forearm injury.

I don't know if this a particularly bad record, though I suspect it is, but the Jays have now lost three starting pitchers and four good relievers to serious (3 month+) injuries in essentially the last two seasons. Good grief.

Right now the candidates to start in the rotation next year are basically Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch, and David Purcey, and then theoretically some combination of Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, AJ Burnett, Scott Downs, John Parrish, Scott Richmond, Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil. After AJ Burnett that list doesn't really inspire much confidence though.


Marcum Likely to Miss 2009 with Tommy John Surgery | 132 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
R Billie - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#192608) #

And of course, JP spent much of this season stating they had no interest in re-signing Burnett.  Kind of anti-productive to paint yourself into a corner well before all the results of the season are in, no?  Especially when your team is so adept and finding ways to put pitchers on the skids for extended periods of time.

When Marcum came back from his earlier elbow injury, I believe he was throwing fewer cutters and curveballs.  He struggled for a while and then got sent down (to fix his attitude or whatever).  He came back throwing more of those pitches again and was doing better.  A few starts later he might be out for a year and a half with elbow surgery.  Draw your own conclusions.

Wildrose - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#192609) #
Somebody go get Mike Green off the ledge ( Mike was always Marcum's biggest advocate and quite accurately predicted he'd be quite good despite general  skepticism) !

My question is this. What really happened with his demotion to the minors? Was he told "pitch through the pain pussy were in a pennant race" by the Jays hierarchy?

Honestly, with few exceptions the team has generally been fairly conservative with the handling of it's young pitchers. Is this a case of sh#t happens, or can a case be made for unrepetant   pitcher abuse?



christaylor - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#192612) #
Off topic but on another injured pitcher... Bedard looks like he'll need some serious rehab time to recover from shoulder surgery. Upon reading the good folks over at USS Mariner speculate that he'd be non-tendered this off-season, does anyone else think that I'd be a good idea to sign him and rehab him, as the Cards did when they yanked Carpenter out from under the Jays when he need time to rehab from a torn labrum?

If the Jays signed Bedard to a low base salary with incentives for games started he could be a steal. This could be one of the few times where the team being in Canada could be a plus, as he could rehab in Navan (and by all accounts he loves being with his family) which is close enough where the Jays could keep good tabs on him.
Magpie - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#192613) #
Is this a case of sh#t happens, or can a case be made for unrepetant   pitcher abuse?

You can generally make a case for pretty well anything, but making a case for Marcum being abused is a little more challenging. His IPs by year since turning pro:

2004 - 148
2005 - 165
2006 - 131.1
2007 - 159
2008 - 168.1

He has never pitched a complete game as a major leaguer, just 2 as a minor leaguer. The most pitches he has ever thrown in a game is 114, earlier this year against Cleveland. It took him through 8 shutout innings and Gibbons didn't send him out for the 9th. The game went into extras and ended in 2:53. The previous start is more of a concern, as Gibbons had his Tim Lincecum moment with Marcum and sent him out for the 9th to go for that first career SHO and CG. Marcum had thrown 99 pitches through 8, got two quick outs, ran out of gas (3 hits and a run) and came after 110. Downs got the last out, game time was 2:47

The attitude adjustment story was something Ashby heard, but everyone else - Gaston, Marcum, Ricciardi - seems a little mystified by. They all seem to think there was a mechanical adjustment to be made, and the story is that Rick Langford spotted Marcum's problem immediately.

Pitchers deal with pain in their arms pretty well all the time - that's what pitching does - and it can sometimes be difficult for them to know when it's not normal, when there's an actual injury. It's possible that the elbow problem that started troubling Marcum earlier this year, and appears to have completely blown up on him now, caused him to slightly alter his mechanics to ease the strain. Unfortunately, he lost his effectiveness in doing so. They fixed the mechanical problem and he pitched effectively again. But the elbow blew up.
Jays2010 - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#192615) #

If the Jays signed Bedard to a low base salary with incentives for games started he could be a steal.

I had this thought a few days ago when the news broke about Bedard. I fully expect he'll be non-tendered. I don't think it's a good idea for the Jays to go after him simply because he is an Ontario boy. If after a year we cut him loose I don't think it would come off well. And most importantly we have to stop avoiding injury-prone pitchers. Everybody mentions the Carpenter example, but the 5 year extension he signed does not look very good right now. I think we need to focus on Halladay and our young pitchers and patch holes where necessary. This means that resigning AJ probably should not be done, even though it makes sense on many levels to do it.

Once McGowan (hopefully) comes back in May/June, I'll consider him our new AJ (injury-prone with ace potential). There are going to be enough solid guys to sign on a one year deal I hope. Potential guys who may take a one year deal include Sheets, Pettite, Mussina, Garcia and Byrd. If we could sign one guy (i.e Sheets on a one year 14 mill contract) and maybe sign a secondary pitcher as a placeholder for McGowan, we'd be in solid shape (with Cecil, R Romero, Mills and Richmond as AAA injury protection). There may still be enough funds to go after Manny!

John Northey - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#192616) #
Heh. Just pictured Mussina in a clubhouse where Cito is the manager. For those who weren't around for 1993, Mussina decided to warm up in the bullpen in the 9th inning of the all-star game on his own when Cito brought in Ward to pitch the 9th. The fans in Baltimore (where Mussina was playing) went nuts screaming, throwing junk, etc. Mussina also is the guy who complained about the ceremony that honoured Tom Cheek a few years back. I think the odds of signing Manny (who ain't coming here no matter how much many of us would love it) are much, much higher than Mussina.

Bedard is out until July at least so he isn't of much interest imo as the kids could be ready by then. Might be worth a shot but odds are we'd get nothing from him.

Pettite won't go anywhere but NY or Houston I suspect.

Sheets has a sore arm thus is a risk but someone will be dumb and give him a 3 year deal I'd bet.

Garcia and Byrd? Byrd is a league average guy, nothing special but will get $30 over 3 probably. Garcia is recovering too so again I wouldn't go near him unless super-cheap.
braden - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#192617) #

It has been confirmed.  The Star, Post, and CP are all reporting it.

I had that slight hope that maybe the doctor was holding the MRI the wrong way or something.  Dammit, anyway.

ayjackson - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#192618) #

This is starting to make sense to me.  They had a medical opinion on the elbow from earlier in the year.  (Probably something like "It's okay now, but I'll see you later")  I think when Marcum started struggling and experiencing some pain, the doctors probably knew what it meant and that 2009 was going to be lost.  Hale over at Mockingbird noticed his release point changed just prior to the demotion, so maybe they found he could minimize pain by changing his arm angle.  So they sent him down to work on it for a start or two, to improve his results.  They brought him back up, but when they lost the series to Boston, Marcum decided to pack it in, they got the MRI and forwarded it to Dr. Andrews for confirmation.

That would explain his alleged attitude problems - if in his heart, he knew TJ was coming.

Wildrose - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#192619) #
Thanks Magpie for the reasoned insight.

This is obviously tough news. Where does the team realistically go from here? The first order of business is to determine Godfrey's replacement ( everything points to him leaving) Next determine what the future budget will be.  Then the most important factor is determine if Halladay will sign an extension ( you can't  extend Burnett unless it's determined what you potentially pay Roy). If  he won't extend what then? Firesale? Who runs the firesale ? Can the fan base  stand another rebuilding phase? Stay the course?

This situation calls for strong,decisive leadership. We'll see what happens.
brent - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#192620) #
I didn't see anyone mention that Barajas is probably done for the year. Is the team better served by re-signing Zaun and releasing or trading one of them when JPA is ready. Is anyone confident enough in Thigpen to be a starter if Barajas gets injured next year? Last, I think the Jays should try to promote from within to make up for the Marcum injury. At least give the team a chance to add value to some players.
Glevin - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 06:18 PM EDT (#192621) #
". Is the team better served by re-signing Zaun and releasing or trading one of them when JPA is ready."

If they are cheap. Neither Zaun or Barajas have much value now and it's hardly going to go up next year.


I think the Jays have no choice but to rebuild. The thought going into next year was "we had great pitching and poor hitting this year, if we can get great pitching and good hitting, we'll be contenders". (I expect roughly the same from the offense, perhaps a slight improvement, a slight decline from the bullpen, and now a massive decline from the starting staff. The Jays will have gone from
Halladay 
Burnett
Marcum
McGowen
Litsch

to
Halladay
Litsch
Purcey
Free Agent...
Parrish?
Richmond?

Now, unless that free agent is Sabathia (which it won't be) the staff will be a lot worse. (I think Lowe is about the best the Jays could go for which would definitely help a fair bit in the short term)
However, as of now, Jesse Litsch is the Jays number 2 starter going into next year.  The rotation would probably be the 4th best in the division (Yankees will add a stud pitcher and get Wang and Hughes back) and the offense would almost definitely be the worst.  The Jays seemed most likely to finish 4th next year before this injury, I'd certainly prefer an attempt to rebuild over overpaying veterans to get a chance to get to .500.
Wildrose - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#192622) #
Signing Bedard is an interesting idea.

He essentially will be a free agent if non-tendered by Seattle. He is undergoing the most serious type of injury a pitcher can practically have- a torn shoulder labrum ( better, albeit not by much , to have a torn rotator cuff). Pitchers often don't ever come back from this type of impairment.

Signing Bedard to a low base salary , over several years , with a performance bonus may be a worthwhile gamble. Unfortunately in a corporate atmosphere like that of Toronto extra extraneous cash is generally not laying around. Maybe because of his unique status as  a Canadian , Rogers may be willing to look at something like this. Realistically I think a large market team will look at this avenue regarding Bedard, but even teams like this, may be reluctant  given  the usual outcome with this type of injury.

jerjapan - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#192623) #
The Jays seemed most likely to finish 4th next year before this injury, I'd certainly prefer an attempt to rebuild over overpaying veterans to get a chance to get to .500.

Agreed.  I would agree with Magpie's assessment that $%^ happens with injuries, and young pitchers in particular, and certainly the Jays have had a spectacular run of bad luck over the past few years - but Jesse Litsch as number 2 is where we currently stand, and crying over it gets us nowhere.  I've certainly be somewhat won over to the "Riccardi's an improving / fairly good GM" camp in the last few months, but I do fear he is not the 'strong leader' needed to weather this crisis, and it looks pretty clear that he'll be helming the ship again next year.

Why not Riccardi?  If there's one demonstrable weakness I think few in Da Box would argue, it's that he overvalues his talent and refuses to move players for prospects when the situation demands it.  While holding on to Burnett lead to a pretty exciting run at the end of the year, we are well out of the playoffs and some young pitchers could fill the massive holes in our rotation.  Without Marcum next year and the other pitching question marks, barring a miraculous off season, we are out of the playoffs for sure next year - but I'd predict Riccardi uses injuries as an excuse to put a pretty good team on the field again next year that will finish just out of the playoffs. 

To me, that record sounds a lot more broken than the idea of rebuilding. 

This is all the more painful after that big streak renewed hope for baseball in Toronto.  Between our injuries and the division we play in, we've had some seriously bad luck
Glevin - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#192624) #
"Between our injuries and the division we play in, we've had some seriously bad luck"

I don't see it like that at all. I think the Jays luck has been closer to average than bad. I mean, they've had 133 starts from their top starters (I don't think you can assume that Janssen would be any better than Litsch). Tha Yankees have had 91 (if Pavano is their 5th best, 103 if you want to count Joba and Pavano together)...THEY have been unlucky with starters this year. Yeah, Hill missed most of the year, but Inglett's production replacing him was actually better than Hill. They had some bullpen injuries, but their bullpen could really not have been much better. Wells missed a lot of time, but so did Crawford, Matsui, Ortiz, Posada, etc...Rolen got hurt, well, but that's not luck, Rolen got hurt last year and will get hurt next year too. I don't see bad luck with this team, I just see a mediocre roster.
jerjapan - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 08:54 PM EDT (#192625) #
I could trash Riccardi and his roster construction till the cows come home, and have in the past, but over the last few months I've realized that his never-ending woe is me refrain is actually based in some truth.  Consider:
  • We've lost FIVE very talented young pitchers to serious injuries and for substantial chunks of time in the last two years (Marcum, McGowan, Jansenn, Accardo and League) some of whom may not be back or may not be as effective - not to mention our closer, the formerly dominant, now average BJ Ryan. 
  • We were one of the top teams in days lost to injuries last year - this year, we've been simply average in our days lost to injuries, but consider the players - key young pitchers down with arm injuries
  • We've been floating around at 5th place in the "Prospectus Hit List" in all of MLB for a few weeks, while simultaneously floating around 4th place in our own divisio
Your points about the Yanks and Hill are somewhat misleading as well - Hill, going forward, would have been a much more valuable contributor than Inglett, this years stats aside, and simply because the Yanks have also had bad luck doesn't mean the Jays are not.  And the Jays can't afford bad luck the way the Yanks can with their payroll ...

I hate giving Riccardi excuses, but he's got a legit one here. 

Glevin - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#192626) #
" but consider the players - key young pitchers down with arm injuries"

It's a hell of a lot better than Halladay going down. If you said before the season that the Jays top 3 starters would start 93 times at this point in the year, I think everyone would be thrilled. The Jays had some injuries to the back of their rotation. Did it hurt? Of course, but as I said, Litsch was better than Janssen could have been expected to be which more than replaced their fifth starter. So, basically, the Jays missed half a season worth of one middle of the rotation starter total. That's actually better than many teams.

Pitchers, including very good pitchers, get massive injuries constantly (Westbrook, Bonderman, Wang, Hughes, Liriano, Escobar, Bedard, Duscherer, etc...)

"Hill, going forward, would have been a much more valuable contributor than Inglett, this years stats aside,"

But you can't put this year aside, because we are talking about luck for this year. For the future, Hill definitely has more upside than Inglett, but for this year, Inglett has been about as good as Hill would have been. I don't buy this bad luck stuff for a second. It reminds me of when fans say "we should win because we improved" while ignoring the fact that the teams around them have improved more. The Jays' injuries have not been particularly horrific. If you asked an impartial, knowledgable fan which teams had bad luck this year, the Jays would not come to mind. The Rockies (Losing Barmes, Tulowitzky, Holliday, Helton, Hawpe, Tavarez, and Francis to injury is bad!),  Yankees (Hughes, Wang, Posada, Matsui, Damon, Joba, and Arod have all missed meaningful time). 
Dave Till - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#192627) #
Sadness.

There are two things a young pitcher has to do to become a proven winner: gain command of his stuff, and be able to take on a full workload without injury. Unfortunately, the only way to find out whether a pitcher can handle a full workload is to try to give him one. If his arm falls off, the answer is no, he can't handle it.

This is why free-agent starting pitchers make approximately a bazillion dollars a year - they have proven that their arms don't fall off when they pitch 200 innings a year. (And, even then, some of them get hurt too. Pitching is an unnatural motion, and everybody gets hurt eventually.)

jerjapan - Friday, September 19 2008 @ 11:23 PM EDT (#192628) #
I think you are actually focusing on this year's injuries exclusively, whereas I'm talking about the last two, and I'm throwing the whole unfair division thing into my definition of unlucky as well.  Probably we agree more than we disagree here ...
Mylegacy - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 12:53 AM EDT (#192629) #

Well - Halladay, Litsch, Purcey, Janssen and Cecil with the Romero brothers(sic) Ricky and Davis along with Mills and Wolfe getting a sniff - and McGowan back by the All-Star break - God willin' an' the river don't rise. Unfortunately, young pitchers will break your heart - and my heart can only take so much more breaking!

The bullpen looks good with Ryan, Downs, League, Accardo, Carlson, Tallet, Frasor and Parrish - Davis and Wolfe could get a sniff here as well.

AJ at 4 x 15 would make me sleep a little better - however, I wouldn't want to be the company that was insuring his salary.

Offensively, it looks like Rolen has figured how to swing with one shoulder, Wells and Rios are being helped by Tenace and Gaston, Snider and Lind both like like keepers and Arencibia will be Rod's back-up by the All-Star break and Cooper will be knocking on Overbay's door by late summer. Scoots and Inglett are there till Hill stops seeing double. Five top bats and no real holes - could be a contenders offense.

scottt - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 07:22 AM EDT (#192630) #
Signing Bedard to a low base salary , over several years , with a performance bonus may be a worthwhile gamble. Realistically I think a large market team will look at this avenue regarding Bedard, but even teams like this, may be reluctant  given  the usual outcome with this type of injury.

He's probably going to be cheap. It's worth looking into.

Time to sell the stars and rebuild? Wait. What stars? Halladay is the only guy that would bring return and I don't see any team with the prospects waiting for a swap. Santana didn't bring much and--rightly or not--he profiled higher than Doc. There is probably too many good pitchers on the market this year to get a good return.

They can offload Ryan and Overbay. If they want to rebuild after next year, they sould take a Florida mentality and sign some high profile free agents then dump those in the winter.

They have to replace AJ somehow. Then, they have to gamble and improve the offense. It could be a lot worse.
greenfrog - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 09:46 AM EDT (#192631) #
I guess the silver lining is that Marcum is having the surgery now, instead of in May or June next year. Assuming the surgery and rehab goes well, he should be at full strength in spring training of 2010.

My guess is that JP will try to muddle through the latest crisis. I think he'll make a reasonable pitch for AJ (say, two extra years at $15M per, for a total of $54M over 4 years). Unfortunately, I don't think this will be enough- I'm guessing he pulls down at least $75M for 5 years. The worst-case scenario would be AJ signing with the Yankees or Red Sox, debilitating the Jays' rotation while adding strength to a divisional rival (AJ has dominated both teams lately, which would make losing him even more painful).

The Jays have some promising young arms (Purcey, Cecil, Romero, Mills), but as we've seen in Boston and New York this year (Buchholz, Lester, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain), young arms can take a year or two to develop - and some never break through. The competition in the AL East these days is fierce, and the Jays now seem to be at a major disadvantage. The Rays and Red Sox should be very strong next year, and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the Yankees regaining contender status with the return of Wang, Hughes and Chamberlain and the addition of a couple of top-tier free agents like Sabathia and Teixeira.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but that's my quick read of the situation.
Marc Hulet - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#192632) #
Here are some trends in a small sample size:

Three pitchers on the list were two-way players in college: Marcum, Accardo and Janssen...
Three pitchers were shifted between the bullpen and rotation a number of times in their minor league careers: Marcum, Janssen, League...
For whatever reason, there has also been a large number of closers undergoing TJ recently: Ryan, Wagner, Isringhausen, Ray, Baez...

John Northey - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 11:34 AM EDT (#192633) #
Random note that I just picked up...

The Jays with 82 wins have locked up an above 500 record for the 3rd straight year. This was last done between 1998-2000. The 98-00 record was 88-84-83 wins vs the 2006-2008 record of 87-83-82+ wins.

What can we learn from that last stretch? The last year of it the Jays had an offense of 102 OPS+ and pitching at 98 ERA+. Everyone in the regular lineup was below 30 except for the catcher at 33. Vernon Wells and Josh Phelps were almost ready for prime time at 21 while David Wells and Frank Castillo were the only regular starters (over 5 starts) over 30. Halladay was coming off his nightmare season, Carpenter's arm was a bit over a year from falling off (6.26 ERA), Escobar was alternating starting relieving.

What errors did Ash make that we hope JP doesn't? He made the disaster trade of Wells for nothing that winter, plus had his catcher collapse, Bush recovered/Batista dropped off, team reversed to 96 OPS+ and 108 ERA+. The team stagnated.

I guess JP should try to be bold. Let AJ go, trade for some major improvement in a weakness, go nuts for a power hitter somewhere, or some move that will make us go 'wow'. Like Ash he now has 3 solid years and needs to make the next step. Like Ash he is hamstrung by old contracts and a lot of mediocre players. Will he move ahead or not? Guess we'll see. Rebuilding though, for JP, is not an option.
Chuck - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#192634) #

I hate to sound pessimistic, but that's my quick read of the situation.

While human nature -- for most, anyway -- is to be overly pessimistic in the face of bad news, in this case I concur that the pessimism is well founded and not just a knee-jerk reaction.

Boston and, to a much larger degree, New York figure to retool over the off-season. Tampa may even open the coffers and add some pieces now that they are contenders. For the Jays to compete with these three teams, they'd need league best pitching, or close, and their offense somewhere between league average and 75th percentile, with the prerequisite dollop of the magic pixie dust that is allowing this year's Twin offense to over-achieve.

Replacing Burnett and Marcum's 59 GS and 370 IP internally, at least at an above-league-average level, is simply not possible. Janssen, Accardo (if these two are healthy and effective) and a more prominent League will certainly make an already effective bullpen deeper. But who will start all those missing games? (I don't see either Downs or Janssen being the answer, not in 2009.)

What is the chain reaction, if any, of the Marcum injury? Presuming that Ricciardi will not elect to punt 2009 (wanting to retain employement for 2010)...

1. Does priority #1, a DH, get moved down the list to accommodate new priority #1, a starting pitcher? A Derek Lowe, say? And does that therefore increase the likelihood of Snider starting in the majors in 2009 (the presumption being that any new bat they would add would not be an obvious middle-of-the-order type, like an Ibanez)?

2. Does Ricciardi gamble that one or both of Janssen and Accardo come back at their 2007 levels and that League's progress in 2008 is legit, and therefore shop BJ Ryan, albeit coming off an off-season (for him)? Many contending teams could certainly use a closer (Mets, Diamondbacks, Rays, Indians, possibly Angels) and only one of them will sign Francisco Rodriguez.

3. Does Adam Lind become trade bait, presumably for a starting pitcher? Lind has certainly come into his own, but at age 25 he has a near-approaching ceiling that makes the likelihood of him developing into a major star minimal. Does Snider get the LF job heading into 2009 with the DH job going to someone like an Ibanez (a Lind trade for a SP would mean the team would only need to pursue one FA SP, thereby freeing up money for a bat).

At this point, I can't imagine what Ricciardi will do, nor do I even have a sense of what I believe he should do. This figures to be one very busy off-season for the man.

Dave Till - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#192635) #
I am not optimistic about the Jays' chances in 2009 either, but I think that the Yankees are in even worse shape. They have no young talent at all. Their best hitters, in order of batting average (with 2008 age in brackets) are Damon (34), Jeter (34), A-Rod (33), Abreu (34) and Matsui (34). Their catchers are 37 and 36. Giambi is 37. The only young hitters they have are Cano and Cabrera, and they both had OBPs under .300 this year.

And the pitching is even worse. Mussina - who returned to life this year - is 39. Pettitte is 37. Rivera is 38. They only have two young or youngish pitchers - Wang and Chamberlain - with any kind of track record, and they both got hurt this year.

This was good enough for only 7th in the league in runs scored and 7th in runs allowed, and almost all of these players are likely to get worse next year. The only way the Yankees can realistically contend is if (a) everybody has one last Indian summer; (b) the Yankees' team doctors discover some untraceable performance-enhancing drug; (c) the Steinbrenners buy a whole new team. Of these, (c) is a real possibility, I suppose; the Yankees have more money than they know what to do with. It will be gloom-enhancing to see Burnett in pinstripes, but it's a real possibility.

Mike Green - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 02:09 PM EDT (#192636) #
Not to worry, I am in the basement and have nowhere to go but up.  As for the home nine,  they'd probably be best off to open 2009 with a rotation of Halladay, Litsch, Purcey, Richmond and Parrish.  Cecil, McGowan and Mills might be ready by mid-season, but if the early season rotation means that the Jays join me in the basement, so be it. 

What was up with Vernon Wells yesterday?  He looked absolutely horrid in the batter's box, as if he had a foot ailment of some kind (plantar fascitis?).

Speaking of looking absolutely horrid (in a different way), Kevin Youkilis' routine in the box reminds me of "the wave" rolling through his body beginning with his ankles and working its way up to his neck. 

westcoast dude - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 02:20 PM EDT (#192637) #

Yankees have other problems, too. The meltdown of investment banks Merrill, Lehmann and Bear leaves just Morgan and Goldman standing, and they are wobbling, pending the next black swan event. I assume all this will crater their season's ticket base but I could be wrong. If you take the financial industry out of Manhattan, a lot of discretionary spending vaporizes.

Now, if Scott Richmond has a solid start on Sunday, then Blue Jays' prospects take a quantum leap going forward.

 

Jays2010 - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#192638) #

Maybe it's just me, but I certainly DON'T think that the Blue Jays should rebuild. I really don't think they have to at all. If anything, I'd rather they go all in and, for once, show a willingness to move a prospect or two to improve the 25 man roster. I agree that we can't fill all of our holes internally. These are the potential holes as I see them:

-Number 2/3 starter

-Mashing hitter

-Backup catcher

-SS?

We may not need a SS if we move Hill. A backup catcher is easy enough to find and considering JPA will be ready soon I do not consider this a dire need and JP does not seem to either. The key thing is to replace Burnett (or resign him) and get another power hitter. I'm hoping we make one significant trade and one big FA signing to address these holes.

If, as some have suggested, Burnett would resign with us for about 4 years and 60 million and we, therefore, have to up Halladay's salary for the next 2 years and (hopefully) extend him as well, we need to clear some salary and the 2 guys that make the most sense to me are Overbay and Ryan. I fully expect Ryan to return to form next year and I know it would be selling low, but we simply don't need him. We can quite possibly have one of the best bullpen's in the league next year for under $8 million. Many people have suggested trading Tallet, but why not move Ryan and bump everyone else up a spot? Perhaps a Ryan for Magglio Ordonez trade could work (considering Detroit wants to cut payroll a bit and wants a closer).

Manny may be a pipe dream, but if Uncle Ted bumps payroll by another 10 million for the next 2 years, we could afford Burnett and Manny if we simply move Ryan and Overbay. Heck, there are numerous scenarios that could make us stronger next year even without Marcum and Burnett if we simply trade for a starter considering that McGowan/Cecil may be able to give us 200 innings this year if everything breaks right. We have good pitching depth, I don't think we should be selling. As my name suggests, I expect this team to be excellent in 2010 when Snider/JPA/Cecil and perhaps R Romero/Mills are all entrenched on the roster and even for next year I think we are fine. Even if we lose Burnett, it's not like we can't acquire another starter...

Jdog - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#192639) #

Im sure Josh Towers could be had for cheap!

I agree with Mike that the rotation should be done in house. I wonder about stretching bullpen arms out for the rotation(mainly Downs or Tallet). I would basically go in with Halladay, Litsch and Purcey as locks and let the battle for the 4 and 5 spots be settled in spring training. I would prefer Janssen get one of those spots. If all goes well a rotation of Halladay, McGowan, Purcey, Litsch and Janssen at some point could possibly give good production. Id be suprised to see Richmond in the rotation. Anyways i guess i am trying to say that JP has enough depth around that even minus Marcum and AJ are pitching should still be decent if not better. As far as offence goes, spend big on a power DH

Jays2010 - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#192640) #

 Anyways i guess i am trying to say that JP has enough depth around that even minus Marcum and AJ are pitching should still be decent if not better. As far as offence goes, spend big on a power DH

This is pretty much true, although I do think you have to find one starter either via trade/free agency. I'd be fine with Halladay, an undetermined starter, Purcey, Litsch and a battle for the 5th starter. Honestly, I think there are more reasons to be optimistic for next year than pessimistic, as long as JP is a litle active.

Chuck - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#192641) #
Now, if Scott Richmond has a solid start on Sunday, then Blue Jays' prospects take a quantum leap going forward.

Bear in mind that Richmond will likely be facing a AAA-heavy Oriole roster on the final day of the season.
ayjackson - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#192642) #

Bear in mind that Richmond will likely be facing a AAA-heavy Oriole roster on the final day of the season.

I have Burnett going for win #20 on the final day of the season (on three days rest).  I know normal rotation would have AJ pitching Thursday on five days rest, but I think Cito will reevaluate and go with AJ on Wednesday on normal rest, so that he has his chance again at 20 wins.

Chuck - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#192643) #

Bear in mind that Richmond will likely be facing a AAA-heavy Oriole roster on the final day of the season.

Please ignore my comment. I goofed big time. I hadn't realized that Richmond was slated to go tomorrow against the Red Sox and that is what Westcoast Dude was referring to. Tomorrow will definitely be a big test for the long idle Richmond since Boston is playing to win.

lexomatic - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 07:07 PM EDT (#192647) #
I don't think switching Downs back to the rotation is a good move.. he was mediocre as a starter, but has been amazing as a reliever..
I know it's not the a reliable marker, but his era has been about 1.75 since his last start (this is over several years... from BP). That kind of consistency is RARE.
lexomatic - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#192648) #
I think it's unwise to take a strength and turn it into a weakness.
Assuming that all the relievers are worse in the rotation than they are in the bullpen, and mediocre, league average as starters, why take someone who is great in the pen..
lexomatic - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#192649) #
Move someone who won't be weakening your team. i would be much more in favor of Tallet (3rd lefty), or Janssens - he was mediocre as a starter but at least there's upside (regardless of injury risk), or someone like Wolfe.


sorry my multi post is due to the spam block.. this is the same content.. why would it get blocked?
perlhack - Saturday, September 20 2008 @ 08:46 PM EDT (#192650) #
Future Jay David Cooper had this to say about Toronto: "It's one of the coolest cities I've ever been to". Read the article at milb.com.
tstaddon - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 08:33 AM EDT (#192653) #
Regardless of whether AJ can be re-upped or not, I think the top priority for this offseason needs to be another starter. With that in mind, I'd focus on two guys that seem to be flying under early radars: Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez.

Lowe, who has been discussed briefly in these pages, would seem a solid fit. He's an extreme ground ball pitcher, which plays well with our infield defence. And he's arguably one of the five most durable starters in the bigs, having never thrown fewer than 32 starts since shifting from relief seven years ago. I'd be willing to overpay slightly to get a three-year deal done.

Not unlike Ted Lilly or Gil Meche, Oliver Perez is an enigma; albeit one with dynamite stuff. Like Lilly (and AJ), he is prone to struggles with control. Perez is also a pronounced flyball pitcher who allows between 20-25 home runs. He compensates by averaging more than a K/IP over almost 1000 career innings -- and well under one H/IP. Perez enters next season 27 years old. Outside of Sabathia, I believe he is the free agent pitcher least likely to make a team regret signing him to a five-year deal. His flyball tendency would likely lead to 25-30 HRs allowed in a full season in Toronto, but the damage could be curbed by even a modest improvement in control. Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch have found success here despite long ball issues.

I'd argue that, given his injury history and how hard he's been pushed this season, a good case can be made for letting AJ walk and making a hard push on both Lowe and Perez. If AJ is retained, I hope a strong pitch will nonetheless be made on one of the two.
tstaddon - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 08:43 AM EDT (#192654) #
Offensively, Giambi and Ibanez will likely prove expensive -- and less-than-ideal fits with the Jays' lineup. For our needs, an intriguing sleeper among free agents is Juan Rivera. RH-corner outfielder/DH type with some slug, who doesn't carry any pronounced splits, and is finally healthy after two rough years. He could spell Lind against difficult southpaws while keeping the DH spot warm for Snider (if it's decided the the Future's long-term success would be best served by more conditioning at AAA).

Aside: Given the roster's current construction, David Cooper might prove to be one of the team's most appealing trade chips next season.
Moe - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 09:09 AM EDT (#192655) #
Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez

I'm not sure these two NL imports would do terribly well in the AL East.

The last time Lowe played here, he didn't do too badly, but he also didn't pitch like someone who should get 3 years, 10m+. Of his 3 years as a starter in Boston, only the first was a success. I remember people questioning the Dogers for giving him a big contract -- mostly based on the 2004 postseason.
greenfrog - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#192656) #
The better free agent starters (Lowe and Perez included) aren't flying under anyone's radar. Many teams will be willing to pay for quality mid-rotation starters, so expect a bidding war for both players.
Moe - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 09:48 AM EDT (#192657) #
Hypothetical Question -- not going to happen, but worth thinking/ dreaming? about, given the idea of giving AJ 4 years, 15m:

Say the Jays unload BJ's contract (should be doable, 2 years, 20m is not too bad for a proven closer). This frees up 10m plus the 12m from AJ is 22m. What about using these 22m to go after CC?

I know it's not that simple, because CC would want 22 for 6, maybe 7, years and the roster is already pretty expensive going forward. But if payroll continues to increase the way it did over the past few years and the Jays are successful on the field, they could afford it.

I don't think the Jays will even discuss this, but imo it makes more sense than throwing 15m at AJ -- I'm willing to bet that the team that shows AJ the money will have more buyer's remorse that the team that shows it to CC. He is much younger now and he might even be younger by the time their respective deals exprire, he is a workhorse and he is the better pitcher.
 
I know it has been said that he wants to the west coast, but I'm not sure who there would give him this kind of money and the yankees will be in the mix, but he may not want to go to NY. Sure, this is dreaming, but this dream makes more sense than others.

subculture - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#192658) #
Our perspectives can change really quickly...

After Year 1 of the Ryan/Burnett/Glaus transactions, consensus was that the Ryan signing was brilliant, Glaus was a very good deal (though O-Dog was missed), and the Burnett contract was already a burden.

Injuries are so common with pitchers, that though I would also agree with extending Burnett's contract another 2 years now to keep him, and also think Ryan is somewhat redundant here in TO, I wouldn't be surprised if next year Ryan reclaimed his dominant closer status while Burnett ended up on the DL for at least half the year (or pitched ineffectively b/c of injuries).



Wildrose - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#192659) #
I think a lot of people are confusing quantity with quality. Burnett, Marcum and McGowan are all top of the rotation starters. Guys you'd feel confident starting in a play-off game with. These type of players are very hard to find and on the open market you pay an extreme premium to obtain them. What we need here is a reality check.

Purcey, Litsch and perhaps Jannsen ( keep in mind he's returning from a torn labrum the most serious shoulder injury to have) all are potentially solid back of the rotation hurlers. Nothing wrong with that.  These type of players are important, but to win you need excellence. I would project Brett Cecil  as a top end pitcher, but he  put only 120 innings under his belt in 2008 and the team will be reluctant to push him past 150 innings in 2009. Cecil looks like a player more likely to be a regular in 2010.
 
westcoast dude - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#192660) #
JP Ricciardi has named Cecil as being in the mix for 2009, and to me it makes perfect sense now that Marcum is down for the season. I have a dream: Doc, AJ, Jesse, Purcey and Cecil. It might still be the best rotation in MLB, which may factor into Huggy Bear's decision. A quality start from Shipyard today would make an embarassment of riches.
John Northey - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#192661) #
Yeah, CC is too much dreaming but...
Baseball is a business where the talent curve is extreme. You have only 5 rotation slots and 9 regular hitters to put in place, thus making it vital to make maximum use of each slot (bullpens are a horse of a different colour and I'll ignore it for now).

Thus adding more aces to Halladay in the rotation does not lessen the value of that pitcher as much as an extra first baseman will cut the value of both the first and second one. Pitching ace #1 [Halladay] cuts out starter #5, ace #2 [CC or AJ] cuts out starter #4, neither of whom would be close to ace status (given no Marcum and maybe no McGowan in 2009) but a starting firstbaseman added would cut Overbay's value.

Long term though you hit another issue. $20 million to CC, $20 million (eventually) to Halladay and you have 3 rotation slots for Marcum/McGowan/Litsch/Purcey/Richmond/Cecil/Mills/Wolfe/Accardo/etc. Is that the best use of resources? Could that $20 million be spent on a new SS or catcher or something else that may be a more pressing need? Well, the big advantage of more starters is pitchers go down and are easier to trade (everyone needs 5 starters and virtually no one has 5 aces) than any other position (ie: St Louis would not trade for a first baseman, nor would Philly or many other teams).

Would I go nuts on CC? In 8 seasons he has had under 30 starts once, with 28. His ERA+ has always been 100 or more, with a 120 lifetime (Halladay is at 131). His last 3 seasons are all over 140 and most of his stats are AL not NL based. He is entering his age 28 season so a 6 year deal goes for his age 29-34 years. If a pitcher is worth the risk he just might be the one worth it. Plus you'd be keeping him from the Yankees and Red Sox and replacing AJ with a younger better pitcher. It all depends on budget and risk taking.

For JP this winter is vital. Should he go nuts on a player CC would not be the worst idea. We'd lose a first round pick (gain two for AJ) and keep a killer staff. Help elsewhere isn't on the free agent market without blocking Snider from the majors. Trade away Ryan to free up $10 mil plus the $12 from AJ and you break even financially for the next two years. The kids could cover the last 3 slots and as they get expensive by 2010 and up you could trade them easily for help elsewhere (assuming we had more than 3 useful starters out of them). In many ways, if JP is allowed to blow $20 mil this would be the best move strangely enough, depending on CC's health of course.
Mike Green - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#192662) #
Paying $15 million per year for Burnett does not make sense.  You know what you are getting with AJ- 170-180 IP of 4.00 ERA (or a 110 ERA+).  All of this stuff about #2 vs. #4 starters confuses the issue.  It is true that on any given day, AJ can be unhittable, and that in any given season, AJ can throw 220 innings.  Counting on either of these to be the rule is unrealistic.

Let him go.  Take the picks, and invest the $12 million wisely.



92-93 - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#192663) #
There is always the chance that payroll could see a bump from the 100m target we all seem to be using. Even just a 10% increase could allow JP the payroll room for a FA pitcher and bat.
ayjackson - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 12:48 PM EDT (#192664) #

I'm with MG on AJ.  We made it through phase I of the AJ contract in relatively good shape, but not without plenty of anxiety.  Take the picks and count your blessings.  Investing the $12 million wisely is a more difficult proposition - I'm not sure a Free Agent is a wise investment these days.  Perhaps that money should be used to extend Doc for an extra three years below (FA) market. 

With regard to Cecil, I think there is next to no chance that he breaks ST with the big club.  He was on VERY conservative pitch counts this year, and didn't pitch past 75 until late July.  He'll stay in the minors until his pitch count is up to 90 or so.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him from that point on, though.

John Northey - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#192665) #
Cecil will probably be in AAA most of the year, and hopefully the Jays watch his innings closely. 118 innings this year does suggest 150 next year is the goal with 180 in 2010 and a full 210 for 2011 and beyond (30 inning growth per year is what is considered the 'safe' level).

The Jays should get a 10% increase in payroll for 2009 as that is the usual growth of salary in MLB but given the dollar is back to 93 cents (vs the above par last year) Rogers might say $100 mil is the limit period. Without AJ the Jays have a payroll of about $82 million for 2009 (factoring in raises, etc) while 2010 is a crunch year with $82 million for 8 players committed and arbitration for Marcum/McGowan/Litsch/League/Janssen and others. With 10% increases in 2009 and 2010 the Jays would be fine ($120+ payroll) but I'm betting against Rogers doing that.

As I said, CC could be a good investment at $22 mil per but the Jays have to clear out some others, like Ryan, who can be replaced from within. Keep an eye late in 2009 or in the 2009/2010 winter for McGowan to be traded as well as he could be getting expensive and with Marcum/Litsch/Cecil/Purcey and others it might be worth trading him while keeping two $20 million aces and working on finding solid cheap options elsewhere.

Yeah, this leads to us seeing a team which plays tons of 3-1 and 2-1 games but as they say pitching and defense wins games.
Glevin - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#192666) #
"This was good enough for only 7th in the league in runs scored and 7th in runs allowed, and almost all of these players are likely to get worse next year. The only way the Yankees can realistically contend is..."

I disagree completely. It is a given that they will upgrade massively at a couple of spots. Also, although many of their players will decline, some who were hurt this year, will be healthier next year. Will Posada and Matsui rebound to where they were a few years ago? Highly doubtful. But it very lilkely they will give the Yankees more than they gave them this year. Hughes, Chamberlin, and Wang give them a  good base of starters as well. I'd say Boston is, right now, in better shape than the Yankees, but if the Yankees sign say, Teixera and a good starter then they could overtake them. The Jays are in much worse shape.
Jays2010 - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#192667) #

Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez are both gambles. Lowe was not very good in his final two years with Boston and I doubt Lowe will be much better 4 years later. I'd expect a 3/4 starter who will hopefully continue to be durable. Perez is far too much of a gamble to give a multiyear deal to. I don't see Lowe/Perez/Garland etc as an upgrade over what the Jays will probably have internally by 2010 and JP has a tendency to avoid older pitchers, so hopefully that rules out Lowe.

I like the Juan Rivera idea. Since his (breakout) year with the Angels in 2006 I've thought he's been an underrated player who just needs regular at-bats. Frankly, I think he can produce offensively at a clip not much below Vernon Wells if given the chance. I wanted the Jays to move Vernon for Rivera/ E Santana a couple of years ago and shift Rios to CF, but we decided that making VW the "franchise" player was better (sigh). 

I think David Cooper would be a solid trade chip. This is just me, but guys who may have some value in our system who I would not mind moving are Cooper, Campbell and Jeroloman. Add in a pitching prospect and you could probably land a very good player. As long as JP is active and realizes he has to look externally for at least a big bat/pitcher, I am optimistic.

ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#192669) #
On separate points..
1. i tend to doubt that Rogers will increase payroll at all next year, at least there's no sound reason to other than to attempt to sustain the pretense that this is a team in contention. It looks like a team at its apex which will finish in 4th place this year, notwithstanding the Yankees' more serious injury problems. I also suspect the Yankees will reload in preparation for the first year in their new ballpark, and as for the Sox and Rays, the Jays are about to finish 10 games back of both, hardly within striking distance. More likely, the Jays will make efforts to shed some of their contracts like Rolen, Overbay and Ryan, who could be replaced with players who'd provide comparable production for much less than the approximately 30 million they'll pull next year. Wells' contract is so out-of-whack that its unmovable.
2. I doubt very much that Cooper is a trading chip. The farm system is largely barren at power positions, and Overbay is going to come off the books within a couple of years. He's not going to land much in the way of a trade, and he's more valuable at this point to Toronto than as a trade chip.
3. I suspect a move on Godfrey very shortly after the season ends, and following that the hiring of a new GM. The organization is going to have to confront the situation of an organizational rebuild, with the redevelopment of a scouting department, farm system, and front office, while at the same time placing a team on the field that's more marketable than the KC/Oakland variants, and without adopting a public face of sacrificing the next 5 years for the type of rebuilding that was supposed to happen over then last 7. That would be the good news. The bad news would be the pretense that 2009 offers more than a fight with the offensively more talented but pitching-challenged Orioles for 4th place.
greenfrog - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#192670) #
I think trading Cooper would be a big mistake. He looks like the real thing, but he has yet to climb the overall prospect charts (he just turned pro). His trade value is likely to be a lot higher in a couple of years. Not to mention that the Jays might be able to use a young, high-OBP, first baseman with decent power in 2010 or 2011.
scottt - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 09:43 PM EDT (#192672) #
This year, Yankee prospects have been overrated. They lucked up on Wang and Cano and suddenly everybody thought all their prospects were sure hits. I'm so glad they didn't trade Hughes for Santana. Posada has 2 years left on his 54 $M contract and might not have the shoulder to catch anymore. Joba is likely to get hurt if they keep him in the rotation. Damon and Matsui want to play first base next year. Mussina has 18 wins and a 3.5 ERA--whoever takes his place isn't going to be a huge upgrade. Abreu is a free agent but Nady and Damon have another year on their contract.  The Yankees need 2 starters. Their recent record on that front isn't very impressive: Pavano, Big Unit, Kevin Brown, etc... It's a though crowd to pitch for and the defense is horrible. Also, I don't expect Wang to have an ERA under 4.0 after such a long break.





Helpmates - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 10:36 PM EDT (#192673) #
Cooper gives every indication of being a pretty elite bat.  It would be a mistake to move him.
Dave Till - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 10:53 PM EDT (#192674) #
1. i tend to doubt that Rogers will increase payroll at all next year

They're trying to walk a fine line. If they increase payroll too much, they lose money - and Rogers is running a business here, so losing money is out. But if they decrease payroll too much, fans will lose interest, and they'll lose money.

If they don't re-sign Burnett, they'll have his contract and Thomas's contract off the books. That should give them some money to play with.

2. I doubt very much that Cooper is a trading chip.

I agree. I'd like to see how good he's going to be.

3. ...the type of rebuilding that was supposed to happen over the last 7 [years]

I was looking at win totals for the last few years, and I can't find many teams that have followed the classical rebuilding model of being bad for a few years, while they collect young players, and then gradually (or suddenly) getting good. Tampa Bay is pretty much it.

Cleveland and Detroit built slowly from the ground up, but each team only had one good year before sinking back into the mud. And lots of teams have either had a bunch of good years in a row or a bunch of bad years in a row with no sign of improvement in the future.

I am beginning to believe that the best approach is incremental: always keep upgrading whenever possible at all times, and keep the pipeline as full of farm system players as possible. Tearing down and starting over doesn't work.

John Northey - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 10:59 PM EDT (#192675) #
Wow ComebyDeanChance, depressed much?

If the Jays write off this team and rebuild it would be a major error in judgement imo. We have a killer staff that will lose AJ and has lost Marcum but has prospects up the ying yang and will have Marcum back for 2010. We have a pen that is the envy of other teams. We have Rios signed through 2014 cheaply, Wells expensively, Lind & Snider under team control and cheap for a few more years, Hill signed cheaply as is Overbay (under $8 mil for league average 1B is darn good).

The Jays have very, very obvious weaknesses at SS and CA. However, both can be filled (and are) by defensive players. We have prospects ready to step in at CA in 2010 and possibly by mid-2009. Third is a headache with Bautisa a 90-100 OPS player (in prime so a slight increase should be expected) the only real backup to Rolen (Scutaro is about the same as Bautisa but less power).

These Jays are a 90 win team who had bad luck in 1 run games this year. We now have Snider instead of Stairs/Thomas at DH which is a big upgrade. I wouldn't sign a Lowe or other mediocre starter for 2009 though, either go big (AJ long term or someone like CC) or stay with in-house options as in-house will probably produce league average (Richmond looks like a 6 inning/4.50 to 5.00 ERA starter thus as good as Lowe or any other 'cheap' free agent while Litsch and Purcey should be at least that good).

I'd like the Jays to be bold and find a way to draw in an ace starter to go along with Halladay, and to get a top flight SS. Other changes just won't be a big enough improvement to make a big difference imo. Going with a rebuild means writing off 2009-2011 at least and wasting the cheapest years for Snider, peak years for Lind/Rios/Wells/Hill and praying you get lucky in 2012 and beyond. Just not a realistic option.
Jays2010 - Sunday, September 21 2008 @ 11:21 PM EDT (#192676) #
John, I completely agree with your assessment. This team is not going to be dismantled this offseason and should be going for it, even without a payroll increase. Through trades/free agency this team can be better at the beginning of 2009 than it was at the beginning of 2008, with a little bit of luck (i.e. a pitching prospect steps up).
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:04 AM EDT (#192677) #
These Jays are a 90 win team who had bad luck in 1 run games this year.

John that's where we disagree.

Toronto had fine 'luck' this year. Their problem is bad hitting, not bad luck. In games where Toronto scored more than 4 runs this year, they were 60-12. That's not 'good luck', that's mostly good pitching. Contrast that with Boston, whose pitching is also around the top of the AL.

Boston's and Toronto had indistinguishable winning percentages (.835 an 833 ) when the team scored 5 runs or more. Toronto had a higher winning percentage (.277 vs. .222) when the team scored 4 runs or fewer. That's likely a reflection of their slightly better pitching.

The problem for Toronto was that they scored 4 runs or fewer in 83 games, whereas Boston scored 4 runs or fewer in 63 games. That's a huge 20 game difference. Toronto won about a quarter of those extra 20 games.

In other words, Toronto more often than not scored the number of runs necessary to maintain a .277 winning percentage, even with good pitching. One can try to obfuscate the cold offensive reality of 83 of 155 games scoring 4 or fewer runs with Pythagorean theories of 'unlucky run distribution' but the harsh and immediate reality for this team is that it is a poor offensive team that is not a player away from the type of substantial change needed offensively.

Next year promises to be worse because the pitching staff that has been at the top of the league will be missing 3 of the top 4 starters, to be joined hopefully at some point by a recovering McGowan. Offensively the Occam's Razor approach to the offense is that it is what it is, and I'd count on roughly similar production from the usual suspects.

So no, I'm not depressed. I think the org is in need of an overhaul and I'm optimistic it's forthcoming. If I thought the team was going to try and sell itself again next year as a 'contender', rather than making the types of changes necessary, I'd be less optimistic.
timsevs - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:22 AM EDT (#192678) #

I agree with John that the organisation cannot afford to go for a full on clearout and rebuild this off-season. They will waste to many years of our best, cheap players and alienate the support. I do however think that some moves need to be made..

1. Make a good (realistic) public offer to AJ and see what happens. If he turns it down then so be it and take the draft picks. Don't get involved in a bidding war. In any event I'm not sure really if he is worth 17-18 mil /year with a 1.35 WHIP.

2. If AJ goes then look for a free agent SP replacement, target someone early. We need someone to protect Cecil / Romero from being called up too early and harming their development.

3. Trade for a good young SS using Adam Lind as the central part of the package. That way we trade from strength, also Lind is unlikely to be much more than an average league OF in the future. Put Snider in the OF and pay for an OF / DH. ?Ibanez / Delgado.

4. Consider extending Doc now... please he is the Jays.

5. Hope like hell that McGowan / Janssen come back healthy.

6. Do not trade Litsch, he is only 23 and the stats suggest continued improvement from last year.

Off course we could blow it all up, suck for 5-10 years then use the gadzillions of draft picks to finally field a winning team...

John Northey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:23 AM EDT (#192679) #
Team records in blowouts tends to be a better indicator of true team talent than the team's record in one run games regardless of the number of each type of game played. This has been shown many, many times in the past.

The Jays, in one run games, is 24-31. If you go by runs for and against they should be 88-68 which would still be behind Boston (who also have a worse W-L record than expected) but ahead of the Rays (28-17 in one run games, 87-67 expected record). This expected record is better than everyone expect the Red Sox in the American League. Think about that, with equal luck (and one run games are largely that) the Jays would be the 2nd best team in the AL.

If you look at the adjusted standing at Baseball Prospectus they factor in a batch of other items that have been shown to be completely random year to year. Based on their W3 method the Jays end up with the 3rd best record in the AL at 88-68 with the Rays improving to 93-61 and the Sox to 98-57 with the Yankees at 87-69. The AL West and AL Central are at least 2 games behind the big 4.

These Jays are not weak sisters, they are just unlucky and stuck in the toughest division. Odds are high that the Rays will drop back next year. The Yankees in 2009 will depend on who they bring in as a free agent. The Jays will depend on pitching and how the kids continue to develop (Litsch, Snider, Lind) and if we get career years out of some key players (Wells, Rios, Overbay). Yes, luck is needed but that is always the case (Rays have had tons this year). In 1992 the Jays runs for/against should've put them into 2nd place behind the Brewers but instead they won it all. In 1987 they should've won over the Tigers but they didn't.

Blowing this team up now would gain very little (outside of Halladay being traded) and would lead to a 2-3 year period of pure crap on the field. I really don't see the point. And in the end if they do blow millions what do we care as I doubt Rogers would say 'go ahead, cut the budget to $50 million in 2009/2010 then go up to $150 for 2011 and 2012'. They'd be more likely to say 'cut now, very nice, now keep it there or go up slowly'.
Ducey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#192680) #

These Jays are a 90 win team who had bad luck in 1 run games this year.

We are talking about next year.  The year with no McGowan, no AJ, no Marcum.

John, I think that most of your arguments drill down to the fact you don't want a rebuild rather than whether this would be the best for the chances of the organization winning a championship.  The team you keep talking about next year is going to be more of the same - at the end of the year there are going to be some excuses for why the Jays can't make the playoffs - bad luck, injuries, AL East, lack of money...

Anyway, regardless of whether the team should be rebuilt, it won't be.  It would be an admission of failure that JP will not make and will not survive. 

Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#192681) #

I am beginning to believe that the best approach is incremental: always keep upgrading whenever possible at all times, and keep the pipeline as full of farm system players as possible. Tearing down and starting over doesn't work.

Well said, Dave.  I've been pleased with this season.  The Jays are approaching a point where everyone on the 25-man roster is either (a) there because the club feels they can help a playoff team win ballgames, or (b) there because the club feels they are young, improving, and likely to one day help a playoff team win ballgames.  That's all you can ask for in terms of roster construction.  Beyond that, you need health and execution...and we can only hope both will be improved next year.

Mick Doherty - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#192682) #

We are talking about next year.  The year with no McGowan, no AJ, no Marcum.

Well, yes -- and not to undersell the importance of that point, but the Jays pitching staff has been quite good regardless. The following gives too much weight to Halladay's performance (that's the equivalent of a small sample size alert), but consider:

So far in 2008, Marcum, McGowan, Burnett are 33-24 over 476 IP with a 3.97 ERA (combined). Everyone else on the staff -- team totals minus the above, that is -- is 50-49 over almost twice as many IP with a non-Dustin-Shaun-AJ ERA of 3.31.

The overall team ERA at the moment is 3.54.

rtcaino - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#192683) #
What kind of rebuilding are you suggesting?


Completely clear house? Trade Halladay for prospects?


John Northey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#192684) #
I was just surprised. A decent Richard Griffin article has occurred. He points out goals for the Jays over this final week, how this team stayed mathematically in it longer than any team since 2000, and not a single swipe at JP.

Goals for 2008's final week...
  • Finish ahead of the Yankees for the first time since 1993
  • Single digits behind the leader for the first time since 2000
  • Most wins since Tim Johnson's 88 in 98.
Jays need 2 of 3 vs the Yankees to make it possible to finish ahead of them, ideally sweeping them. The Jays are 10 back of the Rays right now, so given the Rays will probably be resting up for the playoffs there is a good chance the Jays can gain a game with a solid (4-2) finish. To get to 87 wins (most since 98) they need a 4-2 finish, a 5-1 finish ties it and a 6-0 puts them up to the '89 wins they had the first time Cito took over mid-season. I doubt the 6-0 finish will happen, but with 3 vs an emotionally tired Yankee team (just closed the stadium yesterday) and 3 vs a horrid Baltimore team (yeah, I know, no need to mention they are bad) it could happen.

Other goals to watch are Halladay & AJ going for 20 wins, if the Jays can keep 12 guys with ERA+ over 100 (13 right now - yeah, I'm a stats junkie), if the teams ERA+ (122 right now) can stay above Halladay 2007 (120) which lead the starters on that team. Can Wells reach 20 HR (3 away)? Will the Jays have a 300 hitter (Inglett at 304, Wells & Rios in the 290's)?

Not as much fun as making the playoffs, but at least it is something.
Glevin - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 12:46 PM EDT (#192685) #
"Odds are high that the Rays will drop back next year."

I don't agree at all. The Rays have been lucky this year, but they also have had nobody being exceptional and are a young team whose players are generally getting better. Their entire staff as well as Upton, Longoria, Crawford, and Navarro are pre-peak and likely to improve. Hell, 50 more games from Longoria should make a massive difference in itself. Also, David Price will start the year with the Rays making their rotation better and their playoff run could add funds to go and get a good DH. It's not pessimism. It's realism. Even saying the Jays sign Ibanez and say Lowe (which would be a great off-season), this is what the team would look like next year with ages next season.
C-Barajas-33
1B-Overbay-32
2B-Hill-28
3B-Rolen-34
SS-McDonald-34
LF-Lind-25
CF-Wells-30
RF-Rios-28
DH-Ibanez-37

SP-Halladay-32
SP-Lowe-36
SP-Litsch-24
SP-Purcey-27
SP-Spring training invitee/Parish/Downs/McGowen

RP-Downs-33
RP-League-26
RP-Carleson-28
RP-Fraser-31
RP-Wolfe-28
RP-Ryan-33

It's just not a playoff team in the AL East. The hitting isn't good enough and the starting pitching isn't good enough. I really don't see any way around rebuilding. The team is just not good enough and it's fairly old. The Jays are missing a leadoff hitter, #3 hitter, a #4 hitter, and a #2 starter (maybe also a #3) if they want to compete. To put their offense in perspective. Vernon Wells has been the Jays' best hitter this year is 36th in the league in OPS of players over 350 ABs in between Melvin Mora and Dernard Span. (He's 47th in RC/27). You simply cannot win with an offense that bad unless your pitching is beyond incredible and if the Jays pitching this year wasn't good enough, it certainly won't be next year when it will almost for sure be worse. (And it's not just the injuries and A.J. leaving. This has been Halladay's best overall year and he could easily go back to being just regular awesome next year, the bullpen has had insanely great performances which may be difficult to duplicate, and I don't trust Litsch to maintin an under 4.00 ERA.)
John Northey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#192689) #
There is a general rule that teams who go through a major improvement one year will drop back the next, regardless of age/health/etc. The Rays just went from 66-96 to 92-62 (so far) which is a 26 game improvement, at least (10 more to go). This is not a normal thing no matter how you cut it.

The Jays big jump in '83 was also with tons of kids but was just from 78 to 89 wins. The Jays peak was 83-93 where they had 2 straight years of increases just once, from 90 to 91 and from 91 to 92. In their 30+ year history the Jays have had 3 straight increases just once, 96/97/98 with the middle one being just a 2 win increase.

The Rays are good, and should be above 500 again but I'd bet on them being below 90 wins in 2009.

As to luck, their rotation has 3 (soon to be 4) guys with 30+ starts and the 5th guy has 26 so far (Kazmir). Their entire starting 5 are above 100 for ERA+ with 3 guys at 119+, or the 2007 level Halladay was at. Their 6th starter (5 starts) has a 97 ERA+. Just 7 starts from someone outside their big 5? That is rare and very, very unlikely to happen again in 2009. They had 13 guys get 20+ IP or just one more than what should be the minimum in the 12 man staff days.

The Jays, by contrast, have 2 guys with 30+ starts (Halladay/AJ), 2 more over 20 (Litsch/Marcum). The 6th starter is Purcey with 12 starts so far and a 78 ERA+ with 5 starts going to guy #7 (Parrish) and 4 to guy #8 (Richmond). The Jays had 16 guys get 20+ IP.

Luck is a big thing in baseball, with health being the biggest part. The Rays had the health (pitching wise) and the 1 run game luck. Neither are likely to continue into 2009. I like the Rays to be competitive for awhile (assuming ownership supports the team with $$$) but 2009 will probably be the first time in their history the fans are disappointed due to 'just' being a 500+ team ala Toronto fans in 1986 (the big drop after getting 99 wins and into the playoffs).
SK in NJ - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#192690) #

I get the impression that most fans would rather finish .500 every year with enough injuries to justify not making the playoffs than have a real future to look forward to. There's really no difference between winning 70 games and winning 85. The latter just means you're one of the best teams who can't make the playoffs. Let's throw a party.

"Hey, if everyone stays healthy, if half the roster exceeds their talent level, etc, etc, etc, we have a chance!"

Sorry, I'm tired of that. If trading Halladay (which would be a shame) is necessary to get off this run of mediocrity and filter the system with enough talent to possibly make noise in the future, then so be it. Not to mention I would rather watch Halladay win elsewhere than lose here. Of course I'd prefer he win here, but that's not going to happen, barring a miracle. 

Ducey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:42 PM EDT (#192695) #

Everyone else on the staff -- team totals minus the above, that is -- is 50-49 over almost twice as many IP with a non-Dustin-Shaun-AJ ERA of 3.31

Yes, the piching staff  will not be terrible - largely due to the bullpen.  But that still is just a .500 team.  Year 16 of missing the playoffs.

Someone mentioned that rebuilds don't work.  I am not a big student of the history of the game but it seems that Detroit, Oakland, and Florida have had some success on the rebuild front.  Florida and Oakland always turn around and rebuilds again due to budget.  Presumably the Jays would not have this handicap.

But if the Jays were focused on putting togther 5 or 6 top young starting pitchers - either through the draft or trade, they could turn the corner in 3 or 4 years.  They ought to be able to get some of these through trading Doc and BJ.  If they are picking top 5 in the draft for a few years they could get the rest.  Maybe they get one out of  the picks they get for BJ leaving.  Add in Mills, Cecil, Purcey, Litsch, Romero, a recovery from Marcum and maybe one of McGowan and Janssen and you have a pretty good staff in two or three years with a bunch of uberprospects (the draft picks and guys traded for) right in behind them. 

I am not sure what the Jay's bats are worth.  No way they trade Snider, Lind or maybe Rios or Hill(?).  I would be inclined to trade anyone else who can return an A prospect or is blocking a prospect.  Otherwise just keep them on board.  Work the prospects in around them.

Really, the main difference on my view of a rebuild is 2009.  In the rebuild there is no Doc, BJ, AJ, Marcum, McGowan - in other words the starters will suck. 

In 2010, Marcum, Litsch, Purcey, maybe McGowan/ Janssen, prospect or 2 would be your staff.

In 2011, Doc is gone by this point anyway, you have a few more prospects filtering in and the transition into the grade A prospects would be fully underway.

Just look ahead to the issue of Doc leaving.  If he leaves at the end of his contract, the Jays will have no one to replace him.  Why not get his replacement now.  Its going to make no difference to the number or championships they collect over the next two years.

Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:51 PM EDT (#192696) #

Sorry, I'm tired of that. If trading Halladay (which would be a shame) is necessary to get off this run of mediocrity and filter the system with enough talent to possibly make noise in the future, then so be it.

They can "possibly" make noise now, for next year.  It's not honest to suggest otherwise.

Let me put this differently.  Oakland blew up its team this year.  Short-term failure was guaranteed, and it happened.  Long-term success is not -- can anyone say with certainty that the A's are a lock to challenge the Angels anytime soon? -- even though Oakland has the most highly regarded GM in baseball.

Trading Halladay, etc. for shiny prospects is very risky, and by no means the "right" or only path to success.  The only thing it will guarantee is a terrible 2009 record in a market where the difference between fringe-contending and stinking is huge in terms of attendance and ratings.  Contrast this with perennially weak markets like Tampa or diehard markets like Chicago (Cubs).

No thank you.

Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#192698) #
Oakland and Florida are Tampa-style markets where attendance and ratings will be equally low whether the team finishes 10 back or 45 back of the division leader.  This is not true in Toronto.
John Northey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 02:57 PM EDT (#192699) #
The thing many forget is that some organizations have made a habit of rebuilding. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Washington/Montreal, Baltimore, Texas. None of those teams have made the playoffs in the 2000's and many for much longer than that (KC since '85, W/M since '81). Add in one hit wonders like Detroit (2 years above 500 since 1993) and it points out that for every success there are many failures.
Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#192700) #

Right again, John.  Out of curiosity, is September-of-the-previous-season the all-time record for Earliest Writeoff Of An Above-Average Team's Playoff Chances in Batter's Box history?  Mick, can we get a ruling on this?

SK in NJ - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#192701) #

How can they make noise in 2009? They already have $70 million in guaranteed contracts next season tied up to the same core that couldn't win in 2008, except subtract the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best starters on the team (Burnett - free agent, Marcum - TJS, McGowan - unknown). Now the conventional wisdom is to say "well, the Jays can use Burnett's money to get a free agent or two". That completely ignores the payroll ramifications. In 2010, the Jays have $82 million in guaranteed contracts tied up to the current roster (8 players), which means locking up a Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez type will push the payroll close to $95-100 M in 2010 for only 9 players. Unless Rogers increases the payroll, where do you see this rapid improvement coming from? Even if Ricciardi trades Ryan, Rolen, and Overbay to save money, he still has to replace those players, and barring a ready prospect to take over, that requires money too.

If Marcum and McGowan were healthy for '09, then I'd agree the Jays have a chance with the right moves. Without those two and Burnett, forget about it. Expecting Cecil, Romero, Purcey, etc, to replace #2 calibre performance next season (and Marcum/McGowan/Burnett all fit that description) is beyond optimistic. Even expecting Litsch to be a sub-4.00 ERA starter is questionable.

Will rebuilding work? Who knows. It's definitely a risk to both the team and fanbase. But winning 82-85 games over the next two seasons and then letting Halladay walk for 2 draft picks is going to crush this franchise worse than trading Halladay this winter would. At least by trading Roy (and others) now, you have a chance to add quality young talent to the team. Then in 2010, Marcum and McGowan will presumably be back, and filtering players like Snider, Cooper, Cecil, Arencibia, etc, becomes much easier. Not to mention the haul of prospects Roy would command should be able to help as well.

If you're asking me to decide between finishing .500 every year until Halladay leaves, or trading Halladay and starting a new chapter in Toronto's franchise, then I'll choose the latter. And this coming from someone who will be saddened to see Halladay in another uniform. I just hate being in the middle. Either suck or have a legit chance. No in between.

Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#192703) #

They already have $70 million in guaranteed contracts next season tied up to the same core that couldn't win in 2008, except subtract the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best starters on the team (Burnett - free agent, Marcum - TJS, McGowan - unknown).

How do you explain the fact that the Jays have gone 40-26 since McGowan got hurt, and have been 26-19 with Marcum either on the DL or in the minors?  Even if you really do assume that the Jays will see Burnett walk and replace him with somebody who can't deliver league-average run prevention, how do you reconcile this with your belief that these specific injuries will irrevocably doom the team?  And the Jays started winning before Snider and without Hill.

Will rebuilding work? Who knows. It's definitely a risk to both the team and fanbase. But winning 82-85 games over the next two seasons and then letting Halladay walk for 2 draft picks is going to crush this franchise worse than trading Halladay this winter would.

This is, simply put, at odds with reality.  Winning 82-85 games in Toronto means you get 35,000+ on weekends and strong TV ratings.  Winning 65 games means you don't.

SK in NJ - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 03:54 PM EDT (#192705) #

How do you explain the fact that the Jays have gone 40-26 since McGowan got hurt, and have been 26-19 with Marcum either on the DL or in the minors?  Even if you really do assume that the Jays will see Burnett walk and replace him with somebody who can't deliver league-average run prevention, how do you reconcile this with your belief that these specific injuries will irrevocably doom the team?  And the Jays started winning before Snider and without Hill.

Marcum is a #2 starter. Dirt cheap. Ditto for McGowan. Burnett, at least this season, was a 210-220 IP starter who had a 2.42 ERA in 78 innings against Boston, New York, and Tampa (11 starts) and 18 wins. Personally, I wouldn't bet on Burnett throwing more than 150 innings next season given his history, but we're talking about replacing his 2008 production in 2009. Who is going to do that? Purcey? Cecil (on a strict PC)? Romero (who has stunk ever since he was drafted)? If we had to replace Chacin with one of those guys, fine. But replacing Marcum, McGowan, AND Burnett? With pitchers who, outside of Cecil, haven't even been great in the minors? Do you honestly expect the rotation to be as good without those three? As far as the great bullpen, we'll see how great it is when the starters aren't tossing 7-8 innings every night. Then again, with Cito managing, who knows.

As for Hill, I think Inglett did better (especially after RHP) than Hill would have, other than power. That injury hurt the team the least in my eyes (Wells hurt the most, followed by McGowan/Marcum).

This is, simply put, at odds with reality.  Winning 82-85 games in Toronto means you get 35,000+ on weekends and strong TV ratings.  Winning 65 games means you don't.

Winning 82-85 also means you have a mid-to-late pick in the draft, compared to possibly getting a franchise player by winning 65. Granted, a team can lose that much and still make bad decisions (see Romero, Ricardo), but we're not under the assumption that a new GM will rebuild and fail. At least I'm not. Rebuilding + right decision making is a necessity. Otherwise you get the Allard Baird Royals.

Flex - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#192707) #
"As for Hill, I think Inglett did better (especially after RHP) than Hill would have, other than power. That injury hurt the team the least in my eyes (Wells hurt the most, followed by McGowan/Marcum)."


I take issue with a few of your statements but this one in particular. You're basing that claim on what, exactly? No one's season projection should be based on a month and a half, especially when he's a proven performer. I would argue instead that the lack of Hill's right-handed bat is one of the significant contributors to the Jays' trouble against left-handed pitchers this year.
Ducey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 05:46 PM EDT (#192708) #

"How do you explain the fact that the Jays have gone 40-26 since McGowan got hurt...

Why did they struggle to stay at .500 for the rest of the season?

The bottom line is that they will have Doc, an ace, Litsch, an up an down guy who gives up over a hit an inning and doesn't strike out many, Purcey, who is up and down and gives up taters, someone from the minors and maybe some FA to be determined. 

Is this really a championship rotation? No

Better than Boston's, New York's or Tampa's? No

Is the offense so dominant that it can overcome the deficiencies of the starters? No.

I guess it comes down to what you want.  Some of you seem happy with an average team that might stop being unlucky.  I want a team that is good enough that it will make its own luck.

As for the rebuilds, I don't see what the markets in Oakland, Tampa Bay and Florida have to do with anything.  Florida has a couple of World Series berths, Oakland has made the playoffs fairly regularly, Tampa will be there this year.  If anything, the Jays are most similar to the Detroit situation where they can afford to keep they players they develop and where crowds will come if the team wins.

 

John Northey - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#192710) #
Meanwhile the Yankees rotation (pending free agency which is no lock for signing anyone, even for the Yankees) is...
Joba Chamberlain - 2.76 ERA as starter, who averages 5 IP per start and might be in the pen in 2009
Chien-Ming Wang - a low K guy
Darrell Rasner - a AAAA guy
Ian Kennedy - hot prospect with a 6.14 ML ERA over 59 IP
Philip Hughes - hot prospect with a 5.38 ML ERA over 99 IP

Is that a championship rotation? Not unless the 3 kids really pick it up. When your best starter has 123 IP in the majors and your most experienced a 4.02 K/9 IP ratio that is taking big time risks. Now, Pettitte might come back for an encore, Mussina might return too. The Yankees might blow over $20 mil per year on CC. Might. Lots of things have to go right to get those 3 and given Pettitte is 36 with a 95 ERA+ and Mussina is turning 40 and viewed as having a great 'dead cat bounce' season I wouldn't be too excited in NY about those two returning.

Tampa Bay is counting entirely on young pitching (none of their big 5 are over 26) which was extraordinarily healthy this year and very effective. That is not going to happen two years in a row.

Boston has a darn fine rotation with deep backups but we all know Boston is the class of the majors right now.

So the Jays rotation is easily better than the Yankees right now based on who is already signed for 2009, and unless the Yankees sign CC I don't see the Yankees as being better going into 2009 unless you project an amazing amount of growth for the kids in that rotation. Tampa is due for some regression to the mean next year and any regression opens the hole for the Jays to stay ahead of them in pitching. Boston is just the class of the league.
vw_fan17 - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#192711) #
Winning 82-85 also means you have a mid-to-late pick in the draft, compared to possibly getting a franchise player by winning 65. Granted, a team can lose that much and still make bad decisions (see Romero, Ricardo), but we're not under the assumption that a new GM will rebuild and fail. At least I'm not. Rebuilding + right decision making is a necessity. Otherwise you get the Allard Baird Royals.

So what you're saying is: IF everything goes right (i.e. right GM, great trades for existing players, right draft picks at the right time, right development, etc) rebuilding is great. If not, it sucks.

Yet, to those who say: IF everything goes right this offseason and next actual season ( insert conditions here ) we can contend, you say they're wrong?

IMHO, if you can assume a perfect new GM who can do everything needed for a good rebuild, we can assume a couple of really good offseason trades/signings.
SK in NJ - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#192712) #

I take issue with a few of your statements but this one in particular. You're basing that claim on what, exactly? No one's season projection should be based on a month and a half, especially when he's a proven performer. I would argue instead that the lack of Hill's right-handed bat is one of the significant contributors to the Jays' trouble against left-handed pitchers this year.

Inglett has hit .305/.358/.423/.781 against RHP this season (298 AB).

From 2005-08, Hill's OPS against RHP: .689, .728, .753, .648

Obviously we'll never know due to his injury, but Hill hasn't shown to be particularly good at hitting RHP. So yes, I do feel his injury didn't hurt the team that much. Inglett against RHP probably helped more than hurt. The only area it did hurt is power, but Hill was slumping in that department as did everyone else on the team.

Hill is not Pedroia, as much as some fans want him to be. I think it's foolish to say "we didn't have Hill" as if it's the equivalent of losing Wells and replacing him with Wilkerson (which was a massive downgrade).

SK in NJ - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 06:40 PM EDT (#192713) #

So what you're saying is: IF everything goes right (i.e. right GM, great trades for existing players, right draft picks at the right time, right development, etc) rebuilding is great. If not, it sucks.

Yet, to those who say: IF everything goes right this offseason and next actual season ( insert conditions here ) we can contend, you say they're wrong?

Not at all. Rebuilding is a way to accumulate assets at the expense of winning. Some here have brought up the Royals and Pirates, etc, but fail to realize that those situations failed because of bad management, not rebuilding itself. I never said a GM has to be perfect, but his good moves have to outweigh his bad, and there needs to be some great moves mixed in. Rebuilding only sucks if you have bad management, just like bad management in Toronto can take one of the best pitchers in baseball and surround him with mediocrity for seven years, instead of winning something with him.

Again, if you're asking me whether I want to play .500 ball and hope to fluke into the playoffs over the next two years, or take a massive risk and try to bring some upside into the franchise by rebuilding when a window of opportunity doesn't appear to be open, then I'll choose the latter. I'm not content with mediocrity. If you disagree and think a window is open, that's up to you. I don't see what you're seeing.

scottt - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:19 PM EDT (#192714) #
Florida is kinda special. They won 2 World Series by loading the team with free agents, then turned around and traded them for star prospects.

 I haven't seen anybody else go that route. For example, Texas got fleeced alive by Boras and traded just to free dump salaries.

Mike D - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:39 PM EDT (#192716) #
As for the rebuilds, I don't see what the markets in Oakland, Tampa Bay and Florida have to do with anything.  Florida has a couple of World Series berths, Oakland has made the playoffs fairly regularly, Tampa will be there this year.

You're missing the point.  The point is that those teams, if and when they realize that they cannot compete, they can blow up their teams and lose with abandon basically at no cost.  They won't pull in any meaningful results-based revenue unless they make the playoffs, so there's no difference, on the revenue side, between a marginal contender and a godawful basement-dweller.

Toronto is very different.  The Jays can do well at the gate and over the air if they are entertaining and respectable, even if they miss the playoffs.  They will do poorly in those categories if they punt the season in advance.

Clearly, you understand that this is a business -- otherwise, you would presumably not be in favour of a fire sale.  You understand the expense side of the business.  Why don't you appreciate the revenue side of the business?
Mike Green - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 08:56 PM EDT (#192717) #
One of the criticisms that has been levied against Ricciardi is his reliance on "low upside" college draft picks.  It occurred to me over the weekend that the key Red Sox drafts of recent years (Pedroia, Lowrie, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Papelbon) have been primarily drawn from the college ranks. 
Glevin - Monday, September 22 2008 @ 11:51 PM EDT (#192719) #
"Joba Chamberlain - 2.76 ERA as starter, who averages 5 IP per start and might be in the pen in 2009
Chien-Ming Wang - a low K guy
Darrell Rasner - a AAAA guy
Ian Kennedy - hot prospect with a 6.14 ML ERA over 59 IP
Philip Hughes - hot prospect with a 5.38 ML ERA over 99 IP"

This is an absurd reading of the rotation. Wang won 19 games in back to back years, Hughes and Chamberlin are two of the best young pitching prospects in baseball. Rasner is nothing and Kennedy still has a chance to be an effective starter although it looks a lot less likely than it did last year. You add, say Mussina and Garland to this rotation and it is very solid. (nevermind C.C.) The Jays rotation is not easily better than many teams right now. They have Halladay and maybe McGowan for 1/2 a year. 

"Tampa Bay is counting entirely on young pitching (none of their big 5 are over 26) which was extraordinarily healthy this year and very effective. That is not going to happen two years in a row."

Except they are also adding the best pitching prospect in baseball to their rotation. A rotation of Shields, Garza, Kazmir, Price, and one of Sonnetstine/Jackson is very good even if they have injuries.

It doesn't really matter though. Because the Jays offense is so weak and likely to remain so, their pitching needs to be absolutely dominant to contend. The Jays' ERA is 0.28 better than anybody elses this year and they are still 8.5 games out of 2nd in 4th place. If their ERA is still very good, but say, slips to 5th best in the league which is optimistic at this point, their offense would need to improve dramatically just to be where they are this year.

"Again, if you're asking me whether I want to play .500 ball and hope to fluke into the playoffs over the next two years, or take a massive risk and try to bring some upside into the franchise by rebuilding when a window of opportunity doesn't appear to be open, then I'll choose the latter. I'm not content with mediocrity. If you disagree and think a window is open, that's up to you. I don't see what you're seeing"

Bingo, the Jays just have so many massive holes right now they look like a 70-75 win team. In fact, the death of many franchises is doing what the Jays are doing now-hanging on to every hope of fluking something until all their players who had value no longer do. Or, more simply, not being able to judge the talent on your roster properly.  This is not the core of a winning team despite what J.P. and Mike Wilner think. The Jays will not contend again next year and it will be "well, next year if a,b,c,d,and e happen we should be able to compete." Yes, rebuilding is risky, but not rebuilding now will lead to inevitable disaster. also, rebuilding is not all that risky if done well. You just accumulate a tonne of prospects and high draft picks and you are going to have a great core. (from 1999-2008, the rays had top-10 picks the whole time, and they got Hamilton, Baldelli, Upton, Young (became Garza), Niemann, Longoria, and Beckham. Now, that's way too long to spend at the bottom of the league, but even if you just took a two year period of being very bad, you can get Longoria and Price; Hamilton and Baldelli, Upton and Young. Florida in their horrible streaks managed to pick Adrian Gonzalez and Josh beckett with very high picks in back to back years. Drafting first some years can get you the Griffey/Arod types as well. Again, nothing is certain and some top prospects fail, but I'll always take some real hope for the future versus some vague pie in the sky hope.
GregJP - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 04:35 AM EDT (#192722) #
"Except they are also adding the best pitching prospect in baseball to their rotation. A rotation of Shields, Garza, Kazmir, Price, and one of Sonnetstine/Jackson is very good even if they have injuries."

Exactly.

I think some of you are grossly underestimating how good the Rays are going to be over the next 3-5 years. They might regress slightly from this years win total, but I think they are still going to be the 2nd or 3rd best team in the AL next year.

Combine that pitching staff with a full year of Longoria, a full healthy year of Crawford, BJ Upton moving a year closer to age 27, Balfour finally given the closers gig, etc. and they are easily a 92-95 win team next year.

I'll have to put myself in the trade Halladay/Ryan/Overbay camp and trying to be the new Rays in 2011-2013 once the young guys from last years draft are ready to contribute and McGowan and Marcum are healthy and heading the rotation along with Cecil.
John Northey - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 08:28 AM EDT (#192724) #
Except to be the new Rays you need first overall picks for a decade. Think about how they did that. They had to not just play poor, but record breaking poor. They had to lose nearly 90 a season for a decade to build up that prospect base. To say the Jays can suddenly have the same situation in just 3-4 years is as optimistic as saying the Jays can win it all next year without adding anyone to the team.

The Rays had a very lucky trade to get Kazmir (stole him from the Mets) and were lucky with their drafts. Drafts picks can flop, and do often, even if they are viewed as the best in baseball (VanPoppel is a name that comes to mind, he was viewed as can't miss by everyone but had a lifetime 80 ERA+).

I think trading Ryan would be a good idea as we have a crazy deep bullpen and that $10 million could be better spent elsewhere. Trading Overbay after 2009 might make sense too if Cooper is ready by then (possible). Trading Halladay is the big danger though as it would take tons of luck to find a replacement via a trade - guys like him are rare and few teams have one in the majors let alone willing to trade a future one.

I suspect most of the 'rebuild' people are under 30, many under 20 and haven't seen how hard it is to build a team. These Jays have a lot of decent players and a fair number of prospects charging through the system now. It has an obvious hole (SS) and obvious replacements for other holes (DH-Snider, CA-JP & Jeroloman, SP-Cecil, Mills, etc.). These Jays could flop and be under 80 wins next year, or could charge and be over 90. This is not a team to toss out just yet. And if you say Cecil and Mills aren't ready then why would you say the Rays have depth due to 'the best pitching prospects in baseball'?

FYI: For the Rays fans, don't forget the Tigers.
Mike Green - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#192725) #
The Rays were not lucky.  For several years, they had Tim Wilken working on the drafts.  Wilken's record with several teams, including the Jays of the 90s, was very, very good.  More recently, they have made some very astute moves which translated disjointed talent into a well-constructed ballclub.

The more salient point is that from a business perspective, the Toronto and Tampa markets are very different.  Toronto fans will support a third place team.

So, to answer the questions of the day:

1.  Can the Jays win 90+ games sometime within the next 2 or 3 years with the core that they have (Halladay, Rios, Wells, Rolen, Lind, Snider, Hill perhaps)?  Yes.
2.  Is that likely to happen in 2009?  No.
3.  Is Ricciardi the best person to lead them? No.
4.  Is he the worst?  No.
5.  What do they need to do to win?  Find a leadoff hitter (Scott Campbell might be the guy) and a decent DH (in the Pena/Ortiz mold please), and hope that Snider continues to develop.  Have the pitching staff stay relatively healthy for a year. Develop a catcher (and no, Arencibia is not ready).  Miracles, however, aren't required.

Glevin - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#192726) #
"I suspect most of the 'rebuild' people are under 30, many under 20 and haven't seen how hard it is to build a team."

Nonsense. I am over 30 and I have seen how hard it is to build a team. However, I have seen many more examples of teams self-destructing because they refuse to admit that they are not contenders. Just look at Seattle who fluked a good season last year and thought that they had a decent chance of winning the division which they didn't (although in that division their odds were still a lot better than the Jays are looking for next year). Instead of trading their veterans for youth, they traded their youth for veterans. They could have traded Ibanez, Beltre, Washburn, Sexson, Vidro, etc...when they had some value and built around Hernandez, Morrow, Jones, Balentien, and Clement which is a pretty decent base. Instead, they traded Jones for Bedard and they let their veterans get crappy to the point where they lost all value. This is where the Jays are heading.


"And if you say Cecil and Mills aren't ready then why would you say the Rays have depth due to 'the best pitching prospects in baseball'?"

Because Price  (I said "prospect" singular)  is in the majors and ready and Cecil and Mills are not. It's possible Cecil will be able to help the Jays next year but the Jays would be counting on him to step up and be a #2 or #3 whereas Price could be a #5 or even start in the minors. That's a big difference.

"Except to be the new Rays you need first overall picks for a decade. Think about how they did that. They had to not just play poor, but record breaking poor. They had to lose nearly 90 a season for a decade to build up that prospect base."

The Rays were an expansion team with no top prospects and no players of value. The Jays do not have a great system but they have a few really good prospects and some assets which could gain good to very good young players. The situations are not even remotely comprable.


"Trading Overbay after 2009 might make sense too if Cooper is ready by then (possible)."

Overbay has very little trade value right now and it will almost definitely go down after this year as Overbay is on the wrong side of 30. What would you get for him? A Grade C prospect? The problem the Jays have is that they have very few players with trade value right now. If you don't want to trade any of the 5 or 6 players with value, you are not going to get anything of note back.

"The Rays had a very lucky trade to get Kazmir (stole him from the Mets) and were lucky with their drafts. Drafts picks can flop, and do often, even if they are viewed as the best in baseball (VanPoppel is a name that comes to mind, he was viewed as can't miss by everyone but had a lifetime 80 ERA+)."

No, the Rays were not lucky with their drafts. (They also traded Abreu for Stocker which more than makes up for getting Kazmir) They made a few bad picks as well (Brazelton for one) but made a lot of good ones. The higher up in the draft you are, generally the more picks will make it. (Pitchers have a much lower ratio). Saying "well, Van Poppel or Brien Taylor etc...got hurt, so there is no point drafting" is absurd. Some prospects do not make it and there is no sure thing with rebuilding, however the main point is this...

" These Jays could flop and be under 80 wins next year, or could charge and be over 90."

They can't. This Jays team even with a couple of decent additions is not going to win close to 90 games. This is a team that is going to be worse than this year's edition and this year they Jays will not hit 90 wins. The reality is that this core of Blue Jays will never win. They are just not good enough. I can't even see them coming in the top-3 next year in their own division.
Matthew E - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#192727) #
We're aiming at a moving target here. I think things are going to look quite different in March, for better or for worse, and nothing we say now is going to be applicable then.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 10:41 AM EDT (#192728) #
They can't. This Jays team even with a couple of decent additions is not going to win close to 90 games. This is a team that is going to be worse than this year's edition and this year they Jays will not hit 90 wins.

Really? Even though they've won 83 games and have six left? And their pythag record is 88-68? And they're 48-34 (.585) under Cito without McGowan and with only minimal contributions from Marcum?

I don't know what's going to happen in the off-season, how young players will perform in 09, or how others will rebound from injury. But there's at least as much reason for optimism as there is for pessimism, and I don't see how anyone can definitively state the team is going to be worse.
ayjackson - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#192729) #

Rebuild means trade Halladay and nothing else.  There's nothing of appreciative value that would bring back can't miss prospects.  Rios might be a trade asset too, since he will be 30+ by the time the Jays youth is ready to really compete (2013).  Then you're talking about a pitching staff of Marcum, McGowan, Cecil, Mills and Ltisch or something of the sort, and an offense led by Snider, Lind, Arencibia, Cooper, Ahrens, Campbell and maybe Rios.  Throw in a couple more prospects from the Halladay trade and you have an Andrus and Ramirez as well.  Really, is it worth it.

Rebuild is worth it if you have multiple tradeable assets and no prospects on the horizon.  If AJ were signed for a few more years and Vernon was about $5m per year cheaper, then we'd have something to work with.  But to trade one guy for a couple of more prospects doesn't seem all that attractive to me, especially when our pitching staff is decimated as it is.

For their part, Tampa didn't rebuild or build through the draft.  Most of their first rounders are relatively poor picks.  They got where they are by astute (some luck, too)acquisitions like Pena, Hinske, Garza, Iwamura, Barnett, Gross, Floyd, Navarro, and Jackson.  Their actual drafting, outside of Kazmir and Longoria (and more recent picks), has been mostly disappointing - Wilder, Stanridge, Hamilton, Baldelli, Brazelton, Young, Neimann, Townsend.  None of these have been key to their revival. 

Wildrose - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 11:13 AM EDT (#192730) #
And they're 48-34 (.585) under Cito without McGowan and with only minimal contributions from Marcum?

This is a good point, but remember Burnett has made major contributions during this run and most indications are that he's not returning ( and given the potential cost I'm not sure  I'd pay the price to retain him unless a major cash infusion is coming). In fact during this 82 game snap-shot, 32 starts or nearly 40% of the total were made by pitchers who will likely not start the season with the team next year.

Given the Rogers share price we probably shouldn't dream about a big budget boost. It's too bad Ricciardi in many ways has done the right thing by trying to build through cheap young pitchers and solid defence, only to see this strategy blow up somewhat with the vagaries of injury.  It's almost like investing in junk bonds, huge return potential but huge risk as well.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#192731) #
In fact during this 82 game snap-shot, 32 starts or nearly 40% of the total were made by pitchers who will likely not start the season with the team next year.

That's not really meaningful, though. If we're doing the same math, that's 10 starts by Marcum, during which he put up a 4.78 ERA, and 4 by McGowan with a 5.24 ERA. Those pitchers may not appear in 2009, but the numbers aren't irreplaceable.

Burnett is obviously the X-Factor, but he'd be an X-Factor even if he were here - he's not the most reliable guy around, in terms of health or performance; his season numbers are pretty average on the whole. I don't know how much I'd gamble on bringing him back, but he does need to be replaced somehow. Exactly how is the big question.
Mike D - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#192733) #

Rebuild is worth it if you have multiple tradeable assets and no prospects on the horizon.

Which is the situation Oakland was in this season (and Toronto is not in now).  And Beane didn't have tens of millions in revenue to lose by weakening his club in the short term.

John Northey - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#192734) #
Hmm. Good question based on who we will have for 2009 and expand to them getting 33 starts each. Especially given we know the hitters will be pretty much the same. Not a real scientific method but fun nonetheless.

Halladay: Team=20-13 so far with him, assume same in 2009
Litsch: Team=12-15 so far with him, equal to a 15-18
Purcey: Team=5-7 so far, equal to 14-19
Parrish: Team=5-0 when he starts, 33-0
Richmond: Team=1-3 when he starts, 8-25

That adds up to 90-75, take away 3 of Richmond's starts to get to 89-73. Yeah, the Jays won't go 33-0 in Parrish starts but they also wouldn't go 15-18 for Litsch or 8-25 for Richmond I suspect.

Interesting though as I had no idea what I'd see from this going into it. Didn't notice that they won all of Parrish's 5 starts, or that they had a losing record when Litsch pitches.

As an FYI...
McGowan: 8-11
Marcum: 13-12
AJ: 20-14 (20-13 in starts)
Matthew E - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 12:28 PM EDT (#192735) #
You heard it here first, folks: John Northey has just predicted that John Parrish will be the unanimous winner of the 2009 AL Cy Young Award.

That's what you meant, right?

Glevin - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 01:49 PM EDT (#192742) #
"Really? Even though they've won 83 games and have six left? And their pythag record is 88-68? And they're 48-34 (.585) under Cito without McGowan and with only minimal contributions from Marcum?"

I don't give a crap about Pythag records because I have always thought them meaningless except if they are way, way off the normal records. You can pick the stats you want, the reality is that nobody outside of Toronto as of now would pick the Jays to be anywhere near a playoff spot. If you look at any of the baseball preview things that come out in March, the Jays will not be listed as a contender because they won't be. If you think that Jesse Litsch will challenge for the CY Young next year, then yes, they have a shot, but in reality all you have to do is look at the team and look at other teams and you can see the Jays' talent level is low. The Jays second starter right now is Jesse Litsch. They have none of the top 35 or so hitters in the league.  They don't have a decent leadoff hitter, they don't have a decent 3rd or 4th place hitter. They play in a division which is likely to have 3 of the top teams in baseball next year. They are probably going to win close to 90 games this year and still come in 4th.You are expecting everyone who has been great this year to stay great and other players to improve. That will not happen. Some players will get hurt, some players will regress, some players will dissapoint. If you are expecting everything to go right, you will always be dissapointed.
John Northey - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#192743) #
Heh. Like I said it is just taking the raw numbers and having fun with them. Kind of surprising that all 5 times Parrish started the Jays won yet he isn't still in the rotation eh?

Parrish starts...
6 IP, 1 run, Jays win 9-5
7 IP, 3 runs, Jays win 6-5
3 IP, 4 runs, Jays win 9-4
5 IP, 3 runs, Jays win 5-4
4 IP, 4 runs, Jays win 7-6

See? Parrish is just what we need. A guy who knows how to pitch to the score and how to win. Why, the Jays won 3 games by a single run with him pitching. He even knows how to inspire his offense, getting them to score 5+ runs in all 5 starts. Now there is a pitcher in the Jack Morris mold. Screw these guys with low ERA's who just don't know how to win like Marcum (9-7) and McGowan (6-7) we need more John Parrish's!

[end mediot mode]
Ryan Day - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#192744) #
Speaking of picking all the stats you want...

The Jays second starter right now is Jesse Litsch.
 Which is actually better than the Yankees first starter right now.

They have none of the top 35 or so hitters in the league.
 Sure they do. Alex Rios ranks 31st in OPS, Lyle Overbay is 34th.

They don't have a decent leadoff hitter,
 Who does? Inglett's been a better hitter than Iwamura, and probably at least as good as Crisp/Ellsbury.

they don't have a decent 3rd or 4th place hitter
 They have decent players for those spots in Rios and Wells. Not great ones, admittedly.

You are expecting everyone who has been great this year to stay great and other players to improve.
 And you're expecting the same of every other team - like the Yankees, who have no starting pitching and an aging lineup, or the Rays, whose success is resting on the health of their young arms. What if the Yankees can't land Sabathia, or Kazmir and Garza show up to spring training with sore arms?

I'm not really assuming everything, but allowing for the possibility that there are many things about 2009 that are unknown or unpredictable. And I happily admit I prefer to consider the brighter side of things - I don't think I'd bother paying any attention if I had as gloomy an outlook as some people.


Glevin - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 03:27 PM EDT (#192747) #
"The Jays second starter right now is Jesse Litsch.
 Which is actually better than the Yankees first starter right now."


In fantasy land. There is nobody in real baseball that would take Litsch over Wang, Joba, or Hughes.  If you are counting on Litsch to post #2 starter numbers, you are going to be severely dissapointed.

"They have none of the top 35 or so hitters in the league.
 Sure they do. Alex Rios ranks 31st in OPS, Lyle Overbay is 34th."

With players over 350 PAs, Wells is 36th and the best Blue Jay. If you make it 400, Wells goes to 33rd. If you go to 450, Rios is the best Jay at 35th. Any way you slice it, the Jays have none of the top hitters in the league.

"You are expecting everyone who has been great this year to stay great and other players to improve.
 And you're expecting the same of every other team - like the Yankees, who have no starting pitching and an aging lineup, or the Rays, whose success is resting on the health of their young arms. What if the Yankees can't land Sabathia, or Kazmir and Garza show up to spring training with sore arms?"

No, I'm not. The scenario I wrote had the Yankees landing Garland instead and still having a good staff. The Yankees lost their ace all year and were still competative. Kazmir could easily have a sore arm, but Halladay could have the year he had in 2007 as well.  These teams (Boston, NYY, Tampa) can all have bad things happen and still compete. Ortiz, The Red Sox best hitter,  for example has only recently started to get over his year-long injury. The Yankees lost a whole wack of crucial players for long periods of time. The Jays cannot afford anything bad to happen which it will. Bad things happen to every team.

"I prefer to consider the brighter side of things - I don't think I'd bother paying any attention if I had as gloomy an outlook as some people."

That's absolutely fine for you or any other fan, but it is not fine for management. Management must decide what to do, not based on optimism, but based on realism. Realistically, this team will not compete.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#192748) #
In fantasy land. There is nobody in real baseball that would take Litsch over Wang, Joba, or Hughes.  If you are counting on Litsch to post #2 starter numbers, you are going to be severely dissapointed.

Joba may not be able to start without breaking down, Hughes has had the crap kicked out of him on a regular basis, and you're going to have to explain to me what makes Wang a significantly better bet than Litsch.

But yes, if Joba's arm issues magically disappear, Hughes takes an exponential leap forward and stays healthy, Wang avoids the evil mojo that cause people to assume Jesse Litsch will disappear, and they add Jon "Fewer Ks than Litsch or Wang" Garland, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

But thankfully, the Jays will be able to counter with Cy Halladay, the completely recovered and effective team of McGowan and Janssen, a newly consistent David Purcey, and ROY Brett Cecil.
Matthew E - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#192749) #
Look, I'm as pessimistic as anybody (want proof? I believe deep down that civilization is a decade or two away from collapsing into another Dark Ages, that there's nothing we can do about it, and that ignoble death is right around the corner for most of us) but I'm not quite down on the Jays '09 season yet. Yes, the offense looks to be subpar again, and yes, starting pitching is going to be a problem... but there is time to address those problems, and Ricciardi (assuming he's there) is a guy with a long history of addressing problems aggressively.

I'm glad I'm not the guy who has to make the decisions for the Jays. If I was, maybe I would be pessimistic. But let's see what the organization comes up with before we review it.

Glevin - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 04:10 PM EDT (#192750) #
"Joba may not be able to start without breaking down, Hughes has had the crap kicked out of him on a regular basis, and you're going to have to explain to me what makes Wang a significantly better bet than Litsch."

You are kidding me. I bet in 2005 you were claiming that Josh Towers was one of the top-10 starters in baseball. When Litsch starts getting Cy Young contention, you can start comparing him to Wang. (or even starts giving up 10 HRs a year) I can see your optimism is based on massively overrating Blue Jays players and massively underrating other teams'. Hughes was the centrepiece for Santana which the Yankees turned down. He had the crap beat out of him because he was not right. Joba was screwed by the Yankees this year but has the stuff to be the best starter in baseball. There is no team in baseball that wouldn't be salivating over having these guys. Litsch is like Armando Galaraga, a mediocre prospect who had a surprisngly good year and who might be anything next year.
Ryan Day - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#192752) #
People were saying the exact same thing about the Yankees young pitchers last year, that Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy were going to resuscitate the Yankees playoff hopes. And the Yankees found out what many teams that rely on young starters find out: Young pitchers get hurt and are often inconsistent.

Hughes and Joba may turn into the dominant starters everyone expects them to be next year. One of them might. Neither of them might. Neither you nor I have any idea, nor do we know how Dustin McGowan will come back, or whether David Purcey will find consistency. I mean, are you seriously suggesting you know how Joba will hold up? Do you know more than Jorge Posada? (not that Posada is the end-all expert or anything, but he knows a thing or two about pitchers.)

And seriously, what is the difference between Litsch and Wang? Litsch has more strikeouts and fewer walks.
He gives up more home runs, but he also made it to the majors three years younger than Wang. They're incredibly similar pitchers.
John Northey - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#192754) #
Lets compare Litsch to Wang then. To be honest I'm not 100% sure where this will end up...

Age - Litsch advantage by 6 years
Litsch: 23 years
Wang: 29 years

K/9 IP - Litsch career, Wang in 08
Litsch: 4.48 career, 4.78 in 2008
Wang: 4.02 career, 5.12 in 2008

BB/9 IP - advantage Litsch
Litsch: 2.41 career, 2.06 in 2008
Wang: 2.55 career, 3.32 in 2008

HR/9 IP - big advantage Wang
Litsch: 1.09 career, 1.06 in 2008
Wang: 0.49 career, 0.38 in 2008

H/9 IP - advantage Wang
Litsch: 9.43 career, 9.44 in 2008
Wang: 9.09 career, 8.53 in 2008

IP per start - advantage Wang
Litsch: 5.87 career, 6.12 in 2008
Wang: 6.56 career 6.33 in 2008

Thus Wang leads in IP/GS, H/9, and HR/9 while Litsch has the age and BB/9 while SO/9 is a split with Litsch better career wise and Wang having a better 2008.

Wang's big plus over Litsch is his low HR rate. That is really about it. A big item, but given the 6 year spread in ages it might not be enough to make me go for Wang over Litsch. The Wins are nice, but that is more a function of your team than the pitcher.

FYI: Both have career 116 ERA+'s at the moment. Weird eh?
Mike Green - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#192755) #
Wang has given up very few unearned runs in his career.  He has been the better pitcher, but in light of health and age issues, I'd personally rather have Litsch going forward. Wang's HR/fly rate has been very low the last couple of years, and I wouldn't bet on his ability to maintain that.
jerjapan - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 05:23 PM EDT (#192756) #

For what it's worth, I've got to throw my voice behind the naysayers for our chances in 2009.  The arguments for and against have been well voiced already, but one point missing from the discussion is:

There aren't really ANY baseball journalists who feel like the Jays have a shot at contending next year.  The folks at BP have been critiquing our contract situation and roster construction (big bucks for average or above-average talent like Ryan, Rolen, Wells, Overbay) for several years now, and we are only starting to get into the back end of contracts that only get more expensive as the players age and productivity diminishes. 

I love the optimism, wit and insight of many of the regular (and irregular) contributors to the box, but this a site laden with homers wearing rose coloured glasses.  Might I remind people that this debate (are we contenders this / next year?) has been going on for the past few years now, with the refrain 'wait till next year' a constant.  Thus far, the naysayers of the Riccardi era have been proven right time and time again.

Unfortunately, I predict this same debate will continue next year. 

BTW - the Yanks have been to the playoffs EVERY YEAR since 1994.  We last qualified in 93.  At least we are both out of it this year.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 05:31 PM EDT (#192757) #

Right again, John.  Out of curiosity, is September-of-the-previous-season the all-time record for Earliest Writeoff Of An Above-Average Team's Playoff Chances in Batter's Box history?  Mick, can we get a ruling on this?

Sorry Mike, totally missed this earlier. Your Official Ruling on This Matter is NO.  Here in Texas, Ranger fans are already looking forward to, say, 2011, when the bulk of the best minor league pitching depth in baseball should pay dividents. (Yes, yes, "should" is a naughty word.) But as a sidebar note to that ruling, officially speaking, September-of-the-previous writeoffs are, technical term coming here, waydamnearly.

Wildrose - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 06:13 PM EDT (#192759) #
The most salient number in any analysis of Wang would be his extreme groundball rates. His career number is 60.5 % ( probably one of the highest figures for any starter in the MLB) , Litsch has a career 48% mark ( although it was much higher in the minors).

TRA+ which measures pitchers in a neutral environment factoring in league average defence and park has Wang at +103, Litsch at 98 for 2008. Due to his age Litsch has a chance to close that gap. This metric ( which is heavily influenced by DIPS theory,) attempts to examine the "true value" of pitching. Plain ERA is somewhat dependent on the harmony between pitching and defence , this measure attempts to  clarify this problem.

Wildrose - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 07:03 PM EDT (#192761) #
Further to TRA+, I should follow my own advice and apply this measure to David Purcey. His ERA+ at BBRF is 77. Using TRA+ we see that he's at 101, inferring a certain element of bad luck and uneven defence behind him ( albeit in a small sample size-eventually they plan to have minor league data which would give us a more accurate representation of a player). He's better than I thought, although at age 27 you have  wonder how high his ceiling actually is.
GregJP - Tuesday, September 23 2008 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#192764) #
"I suspect most of the 'rebuild' people are under 30, many under 20 and haven't seen how hard it is to build a team."

I'm 49.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#192777) #

From Jeff Blair's latest article:

From this corner, if Burnett walks, it ought to be time for the Blue Jays to consider trading Halladay, who has two years left on his contract.

If owner Ted Rogers isn't going to go nuclear with the payroll at a time when the game is flush with revenue remember, when the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992, they had the third-highest payroll in baseball and in 1993, they had the highest maybe the time has come to swallow hard and rebuild.

You think life with A.J.'s been tough? Wait till next year.

I guess Blair is a teenager too.

Mike D - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#192778) #

I guess Blair is a teenager too.

I would never say it's immature to make the point you are making.  I just don't think it's realistic at all.  Nobody has offered even one counterargument to the simple point that Rogers would not leave millions in revenue on the table, because it will cost the team immediate millions if it punts 2009.  The club will do well financially if they go in with an 85-win-calibre club and a puncher's chance.  Might not be satisfactory to thoughtful fans, but it's the reality.  I just don't know how you would persuade ownership to go along with "sell Halladay," especially since:

* Obviously, the odds of finding somebody with Halladay's impact, marketability and willingness to sign below-market contracts are minuscule, even if you combine the incoming prospects with the high draft picks that will presumably follow from stinking over the next while.

* There is no indication that the AL East will be any softer in 3-5 years, with Tampa likely still a force and the Big Two.  When exactly is the new window of competition?

* For lack of a better term, "sell-initiated trades" like the Johan Santana sweepstakes have not been yielding massive returns.  What's the return you're hoping for -- maybe a new #3 and #7 on the Jays' Top 10 Prospect list?

* Can you totally discount the impact of Halladay on the development of young pitchers, particularly since every Jays pitcher who records improvement credits Halladay's influence?

* What about his ability to rest the bullpen every fifth day?

It's also somewhat striking that nobody, not even Blair, identifies a targeted need for a Halladay trade or even a plan to subsequently compete in the AL East.  It's reminiscent of the South Park gnomes -- "Phase one:  collect underpants.  Phase two: [blank].  Phase three:  Profit."  What exactly is Phase Two here? 

jerjapan - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#192779) #

It's also somewhat striking that nobody, not even Blair, identifies a targeted need for a Halladay trade or even a plan to subsequently compete in the AL East.  It's reminiscent of the South Park gnomes -- "Phase one:  collect underpants.  Phase two: [blank].  Phase three:  Profit."  What exactly is Phase Two here? 

Agreed.  But it's just something to explore - a Santana-esque loser of a deal is not the solution - but entertaining the possibility allows of a trade someone to knock yourself, even in this buyers market.  And Halladay is the sort of player that a team could see as the missing piece of the puzzle - great deal, durable, smart, efficient, a role model at the peak of his powers - he seems unlikely to decline soon given that list.      

Your other points are also excellent - Boston, Tampa and New York should all be major players pretty much every year in the forseeable future, with their young talent / unlimited budgets.  Personally, I'd explore other moves than Halladay in a rebuild focused on freeing up salary (Ryan, Overbay, Rolen if there's a replacement coming back) and acquiring avg. pre-arb type talents to flush out the roster.  Wells to the Yanks might even work.  But I would've traded Burnett and anyone else at the deadline too.   

Trading halladay is not the answer, but neither is plotting the same course we are on.

 

Mike Green - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#192781) #
There is only one reason to trade Halladay, and that is if the return exceeds what his likely future value is to be (in other words, a trade like the McGriff/Alomar one).  I see getting that return as well nigh impossible. 
Glevin - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#192782) #
"Agreed.  But it's just something to explore - a Santana-esque loser of a deal is not the solution - but entertaining the possibility allows of a trade someone to knock yourself, even in this buyers market.  And Halladay is the sort of player that a team could see as the missing piece of the puzzle - great deal, durable, smart, efficient, a role model at the peak of his powers - he seems unlikely to decline soon given that list. "

I agree. Again, I wouldn't rush out to trade Halladay, but if a great offer came along (and it might) then I'd take it in a second. My first order of business would be trading Ryan. I don't think closers are that valuable in general and very few closers have more than a few good years without major injuries anyway. He's a guy I could see having decent value now and very little value in a year. (Like Wagner, Chad Cordero, R. Soriano, etc...this year). I would also explore trading anyone else on the roster except Snider in the right deal. It's not about saying "We must trade Halladay" but about saying "We must be open to trading anyone" which a team in the situation of Jays should be. The Twins really screwed up the Santana deal by dragging it along forever un til teams started backing off one by one, rescinding their offers. Had they been smarter, they could have received an incredible package for him. Sabathia got a top prospect for just a few months. The O's got a fabulous package for Bedard including Adam Jones, Sherill, and a couple of top pitching prospects. It depends what the Jays want to do really. There are, as I see it, 4 options.

1) Go all out for it now-This makes no sense as it would require trading some of the few young players they have.
2) Try to keep what they have an add a few parts and hope they get extremely lucky. (Seems like the plan now)
3) Rebuild over time. Keep most of the core players and build through the draft. Stay competative without ever having a chance to win
4) Rebuild now. Trade the veterans that have value for good young major leaguers and prospects. No chance of being competative for a few years.


China fan - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 04:01 PM EDT (#192783) #
Although Blair ends his article on a negative note, there was plenty of positive stuff in it.   Go back and read it carefully.  He makes it very clear that the Jays have a decent shot at signing Burnett to a new contract -- which would be fantastic news for the team's prospects in 2009.   He says it will take at least $15-million annually to extend Burnett -- but that's only $3-million more than the amount currently allocated for Burnett, so this is clearly an achievable figure for the Jays.  Blair quotes Ricciardi saying that he will make Burnett a "competitive" offer.  And Blair notes that Burnett's agent was in Toronto yesterday for unofficial negotiations.  To me, all of this points to the conclusion that the Jays have a definite chance of signing Burnett to an extension.  And that, in turn, would mean that there's no need to trade Halladay, even by the pessimistic criteria of Blair's final paragraph.
   For anyone to say that Blair is advocating the blow-up of the team is flat wrong.  He said that a rebuild might be needed if Burnett leaves.  But he also makes it clear that Burnett might stay.
    The analysis from Blair, and the quotes from Ricciardi in Blair's article, give me a clear impresion that Burnett will stay in Toronto if he likes the city, likes the team and felt he benefited from his years on the team.  It won't be because the Jays didn't offer enough money.   And Blair also quotes Burnett describing his Toronto years this way:  "This is kind of where I grew into myself."   It sounds to me that he might stay.


China fan - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#192784) #
   My third-last sentence should have read:     If he leaves, it won't be because the Jays didn't offer him enough money.   
    And I should have nuanced it by adding:   Yes, if there's a bidding war in which some team offers him $18 or $20 million a season, the Jays won't match it.  But his market value is probably around $15 or $16 million a season, and the Jays seem willing to match it.   So, if the money is acceptable, Burnett will look at other factors -- the coaching, the team, the city, the management and the overall experience.  And if those are the criteria, the Jays will have a chance to keep him.

Mike Green - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 04:17 PM EDT (#192785) #
One of the many problems with re-signing Burnett for 4 X 15 or something like that is the effect on the salary structure.  Halladay's contract is up in 2 years, and if you are paying Burnett 15, you've got to pay Halladay 20 to 25.  Combine that with the Wells and Rios contracts, and the club would be looking at a major payroll boost  in 2011, as 73 million would be committed to those 4 players alone. 



92-93 - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 05:12 PM EDT (#192787) #
"One of the many problems with re-signing Burnett for 4 X 15 or something like that is the effect on the salary structure."

Why are you fast-forwarding to its effect in 2011, when it would be very harmful for 2009? The Blue Jays CAN NOT compete with this lineup, Cito's sparkling magic be damned. There just isn't enough offense coming out of this group of players. It's just too much to count on Wells pulling an 03-06, Rios/Overbay putting up a consistent season, Rolen staying healthy and actually hitting, Lind/Snider developing as you hope...Retaining Burnett while bumping his current salary is going to take the team payroll to around 95m, or in other words, it would not leave enough cash to go sign a BAT.

So in my mind, you don't bother with Burnett unless Rogers is prepared to bump payroll at least 10% and take it to the 110m range. This team with Burnett wasn't good enough to compete this year, so why would it be next year after losing all of Marcum and parts of McGowan? Hoping that Snider can be what Thomas wasn't is foolish. It should be all, or nothing at all.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#192788) #
So when Halladay's contract is up, he'll be closing in on 34. It'd be a mistake to go $20M/year for someone that age -- that's paying for past performance, not projected future. Sure, maybe he pitches effectively until he's 39, but do you want to roll the dice on the team's future there? That said, i expect TOR would and will pay him whatever it takes to keep him in Blue Jay Blue. I am just annoyed that "salary structure" arguments so often focus on reward rather than incentive.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#192791) #
I'm not saying the Jays should trade Halladay for anything. Obviously if the right offer never comes along, then keep him. I'm just saying that the team the way it's currently constructed (both in talent and salary) is likely not going to win in either of the next two seasons, unless Rogers dramatically increases payroll to the point where Manny Ramirez is added in addition to Burnett (not going to happen). Why keep Halladay, finish with 82-85 wins in 2009-10, lose Halladay for 2 draft picks after 2010, and then have to rebuild anyway? Why not start the process earlier at the height of Halladay's value if a franchise altering offer presents itself? This team couldn't win with the best pitching in baseball. Now subtract Marcum, (possibly) Burnett, and McGowan....and expect the pitching to not only remain as effective but the offense to improve by 100 runs as well (which is what it would take to make the playoffs)?

I think Blair was being realistic without being overly negative. Even keeping Burnett is not going to change much (though I get the sense he's using the Jays as leverage with other teams). Personally, I'd prefer not signing Burnett. Too much money and risk for a pitcher as unreliable as him.

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 05:48 PM EDT (#192792) #

SK,
The '08 (presumably) Wild Card Red Sox, right now, are +159 in run differential; the '08 (presumably) AL East champ Rays are +102 and the men in pinstripes are +50 while the Jays are +91. I'm not going to do the pythagorean math, but if their pitching stays the same (as you suggest, a big "if") what in tarnation makes you think they need to improve by 100 runs just to make the playoffs?

That's silly overexaggeration. An improvement of 25-40 runs over 162 games is more than likely overly-sufficient.

Ducey - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 05:54 PM EDT (#192793) #

There is only one reason to trade Halladay, and that is if the return exceeds what his likely future value is to be

Well, my suggestion is that he will not be in Toronto after his contract expires.  If you can get two hotshot prospects for him now, they are likely to be of a great more use in 2011 and beyond than an absent Halladay.  All you are giving up is a 2009 which most would say is a wrtie off anyway and a 2010.

I guess I sound negative but I also don't like the Jays chances of attracting BJ or other marquee freagents.  Under JP they have only signed three big time free agents that I can think of - Frank Thomas, BJ and AJ.  Two of those deals placed much more of the risk with the Jays than the player.  BJ's was I guess the exception to this (maybe an overpay at the time?).

I guess it could be argued that the Jays have a leg up on the AJ sweepstakes but I don't see this as a real hinderance to teams that can offer as much, if not more, money and a better chance to win.

Mike D, I am not sure but don't some of the low payroll teams make money each year while the teams like the Jays lose millions?  A total rebuild might actually make Rogers some money for once?  Its hard to know exactly due to accounting tricks but it seems possible doesn't it?

SK in NJ - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 06:16 PM EDT (#192794) #

SK,
The '08 (presumably) Wild Card Red Sox, right now, are +159 in run differential; the '08 (presumably) AL East champ Rays are +102 and the men in pinstripes are +50 while the Jays are +91. I'm not going to do the pythagorean math, but if their pitching stays the same (as you suggest, a big "if") what in tarnation makes you think they need to improve by 100 runs just to make the playoffs?

That's silly overexaggeration. An improvement of 25-40 runs over 162 games is more than likely overly-sufficient.

Why is it silly? They trail the Red Sox by 130 runs. Over 50 and 60 runs less than Tampa and NY respectively. This is a team that will finish with a little over 700 runs in all likelyhood. How do you suggest they make up 12 games on Tampa, 10 on Boston, etc? Are those teams not going to improve? Are those teams not going to spend money? Of course they will (even the Rays might since they'll make the playoffs). The Jays need to score a lot more runs and keep the same level of run prevention to even have a chance. One hundred should be the goal. Anything less and you're still looking at a 85-win team given the expected pitching drop-off.

AWeb - Wednesday, September 24 2008 @ 07:09 PM EDT (#192795) #
There are a lot of ways to look at the 2008 Jays as a team that just missed, or got unlucky. It seemed trifling for most of the year, until the win streak, to complain about it when they were farther back, but at this point, it is possible that this team is the peak performance for the group they have now.

Thought experiment time! Make the Jays 40 runs better this year; I'll do it entirely on offense, just for ease of figuring. Let's not add the runs ideally, let's just add 1 run to every 4th game, starting with game #1. Any games that went to extra innings count as a win, and any one-run losses count as half a win (since in this overly simple world, those have become extra inning games). How much better do the Jays do? 5 wins (1 outright, 8 extra inning games), with one extra run left for game 161. So 40 runs better is a huge improvement, although the only possible extra wins against teams ahead of the Jays are NY, TB, and Chi. 5 wins puts the Jays very close to the playoffs this year, and with easily the second best run differential in the league (so we can still feel unlucky if we didn't make it). The Jays, according to basic projected records, have been the unluckiest team in the majors this year, with 6 fewer wins than projected. No other team with a winning record is more than -3 wins - the Jays have been good and unlucky.

As the best pitching/defense team in the majors with a weak offense, the Jays naturally play more 1-run games than many. But the Jays have played 55 so far, more than anyone else (St. Louis, San Francisco, and LAA are also over 50). With a 24-31 record, they have also stunk in 1-run games, compared to the quality of the team. 30-25 in those games gets them back to the projected record, and in the hunt still.

The 2009 Jays don't need to get much better, but it will be hard. The pitching has been awesome, the hitting has stunk. It's hard to see the pitching being much better, but I didn't see this year's performance coming either. And the hitting - well, if the Jays don't give away 600  PA's to DH and corner outfield spots to the likes of Thomas, Stewart, Wilkerson and Mench, that should help a bunch right there. Lind may not be a superstar, and Snider might not be ready to dominate, but they seem sure to be an upgrade on those folks that came before them, both on offense and probably defense as well.

I'm definitely in the "haven't given up hope for the future of this team" camp these days. And just onee year, like the Rays are having now, when they outperform the expected record, and have a series of late-inning comebacks to win, isn't too much to hope for.  A few teams pull it off every year, and the Jays are in a position to at least hope for it.  Kansas City has been lucky this year, and still might not win 75 games. The Jays have it good compared to most.  Look at the Mariners if you want to know how badly things can get, quickly.
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