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The Toronto Blue Jays have signed former Orioles hurler Adam Loewen to a minor league deal.  The Surrey, B.C. native is trying to follow in the footsteps of Rick Ankiel by becoming a position player.  The Jays also claimed right-handed pitcher Bryan Bullington off waivers from Cleveland.  To make room on the roster, outfielder Kevin Mench has been designated for assignment.

It's always good to see another Canadian boy in the fold in Loewen and the Jays are hoping Bullington rediscovers the form that made him the number one pick in the 2002 amateur draft. 

It's no surprise Mench has been booted off the 40-man roster as he was part of the failed "Brevin Mencherson" experiment with Brad Wilkerson.  The supposed lefty-masher hit just .237 against southpaws while faring almost 20 points better against righties.  He did like hitting at the Rogers Centre by batting .289 as compared to .214 everywhere else.  However, he had no homers and slugged just .357 (and people complain about Lyle Overbay!).  Unless Mench winds up with the Jays new AAA affiliate in Las Vegas, this is pretty much the end of the line for the man who broke the hearts of Blue Jays fans when he broke the leg of Roy Halladay on a comebacker in 2005.  How long is it before Wilkerson's days are numbered?

Jays Sign Loewen, Claim Bullington, DFA Mench | 43 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 03:51 PM EDT (#193550) #
Bullington was, of course, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft who had surgery for a torn labrum in 2006.  Some guy named Marc wrote about him in Baseball Analysts earlier this year.  Any updates on his stuff in 2008 would be interesting, as it is conceivable that there might be improvements several years after the surgery.
Thomas - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#193551) #
Also off today's newswire, the Nationals named their new coaching staff, after dismissing everyone but Manny Acta and Randy St. Claire at the end of the season. Jim Riggleman, the interim manager of the Mariners, is the new bench coach and he's joined by former major leaguers Marquis Grissom and Pat Listach on the bases. Former Blue Jay Randy Knorr is the new bullpen coach. However, the most interesting name on the list might be that of the new hitting coach: Rick Eckstein.
Mike D - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#193552) #

On one level, it's understandable to want to add players from the 2002 first round, considering that picks 15 and 17 were the starting pitchers in Game 1 of the World Series.

And if we're going to add Bullington and Loewen, why not add more busts from 2002 to the organization?  Guys like Chris Gruler, Clint Everts and Russ Adams?  (Oh, wait.)

Kelekin - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#193553) #
These are exactly the type of moves JP should be making.  Our AAA team usually consists of over-aged AAAA players with no shot.  Adding guys like Loewen and Bullington are huge upgrades in our system.  Loewen is low-risk, high-reward even though his chances of making it are unlikely (but let's not forget, this is a kid who was drafted 4th overall because of his pitching AND hitting skills).  Never discount a left-handed Canadian power bat. 

Bullington is a guy who, had he not been injured, was statistically putting up numbers that could link him as a #3 or #4 starter.  Definitely not the potential he was drafted for 1st overall (granted, a Pirates 1st rounder is really a 2nd rounder).  However, what's the harm in adding a guy like this? He'll be in our AAA rotation and maybe he can make it into the bullpen or as a spot starter.  That and he's one year farther removed from injury.

These are the types of moves JP should be making more of this off-season and I'm glad they've started. 

John Northey - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#193554) #
Some stats...
Bryan Bullington: 14 2/3 IP in the majors last year with Cleveland, 14 2/3 IP, 2 BB, 12 K but 4 HR given up. 128 IP in AAA with 15 HR, 38 BB, 107 SO, 155 H. Seems to have issues with giving up too many hits, but that BB-SO ratio and SO-IP ratio is perfectly fine so perhaps with a bit of work he could be effective. A solid cheap skate pickup, as he is probably minimum salary and just cost Kevin Mench who we can probably sign to a AAA deal later.

Adam Loewen: had become super wild in the majors with 18 walks in 21 1/3 IP. He hit 353 in college but only was there for one year. Not a bad idea, but I'd have him in the low minors to start. At 25 next year he'll be a very long shot but he is a 'what the heck, why not' and if his arm feels better by mid-season he could shift back to the mound even.

I'd agree with the general feeling - that these are no risk, no cost people to sign and that both have the potential (especially Bullington) of being solid rewards in return.
Kelekin - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#193555) #
Northey -

Just a heads up that Loewen's career as a pitcher is over.  Even if his arm feels fine, he can't go back.  He has screws in his arm and he could severely damage his arm if he were to try pitching again, which is why he'll be going the 1B/OF route.

SK in NJ - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 05:08 PM EDT (#193556) #
Nothing bad to say about these moves. Loewen is the dictionary definition of "low risk, high reward", which is great. Props to JP and Cito for getting that done. I'm not expecting a Rick Ankiel type comeback, but he was highly rated for his offensive ability when he was drafted and surely the Jays could use some young bats in the minors so this is a great move even if he doesn't pan out.
Glevin - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#193558) #
" Just a heads up that Loewen's career as a pitcher is over. "

I don't see much downside in this. I'm sure they didn't have to pay much at all, and he's a Canuck even if he's a long shot to ever reach that majors, it's a fine move. Bullington is 28 and, well, has sucked since his injuries, so I don't see why the Jays would spend a spot on the 40 man roster on him. Not that it really matters either way. We're all just killing time until free agents really start to fly.
budgell - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#193560) #

Loewen behold, a bright move by JP.


Geoff - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 06:47 PM EDT (#193561) #
I had no idea: reading the 2002 draft list, #2 overall, Melvin Upton.  Melvin Upton.

Talk about one of the sorriest names in baseball. So this is how people get to calling themselves things like B.J.

I notice baseball reference doesn't have any given names for A.J.  Is A.J. initials for something or is it completely made up like Melvin's name, where his birth name was Mortimer Forsythe Burnett or some such?

92-93 - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 06:57 PM EDT (#193562) #
Isn't it Allan James?
Denoit - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 07:35 PM EDT (#193563) #

Great move, Lowen can flat out rake. He is getting started a bit late, but the potential is definatly there.

Impossibles - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#193564) #

Take it for what its worth, but I used to work for a guy that coached against Loewen a lot (his son is the same age), and he said he was always surprised they were making Loewen a pitcher because he was always the best hitter in the area by a mile.  Adam could really rake all through HS.

Nice move, like somebody else said, at least its a name player in AAA with upside.

andrewkw - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 09:25 PM EDT (#193565) #
Sorriest names?

BJ is for Bossman Jr.  His father Manny is the original Bossman.  I actually think this is a lot cooler then "Bo Jr: or "Allen James"  more of a neat story.,

Jdog - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 10:33 PM EDT (#193566) #

Seems like people are assuming he is starting off in triple A, does anyone know for sure where he will be placed to start?

Glevin - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 10:39 PM EDT (#193567) #
"Seems like people are assuming he is starting off in triple A, does anyone know for sure where he will be placed to start?"

My guess is that it will depend on spring training. Either high A or AA most likely.
Geoff - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#193568) #
Since it worked so well for Tampa this year, has there been any talk of Toronto officially changing its team name from Blue Jays to just 'Jays'?

There are just too many negative connotations with being 'Blue' for the team not to consider making an official switch. Plus it's proven to make an enormous difference in the standings.

Gerry - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 10:42 PM EDT (#193569) #
Lets assume Dopirak is in AA and Cooper in Dunedin.  Loewen could start in Lansing, remember he hasn't really hit for three or four years.  Not every pitcher turned hitter is Rick Ankiel.  I doubt he starts above Lansing, he could even stay in extended to work on things in his swing.
TamRa - Friday, October 24 2008 @ 11:24 PM EDT (#193570) #
I assume Wilkerson will be a free agent.
The Sun article had quotes that said Lowen was potentially the real deal with the bat, cito said he was told Lowen was comperable to Hamilton, and quoted scouts said he was easily as good as Ankiel coming into the draft (as a hitter) but maybe had even more power.
If heplays 1B the logical place to start him is Lansing but my guess is they will try him in the OF first so they can play him higher. Probably Dunedin to start and to AA as quickly as his success justifies. Lowen was quoted as saying the Jays projected about 1,000 minor leage at-bats.

Marc Hulet - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 12:28 AM EDT (#193572) #
It'll all likely come down to how he looks in the spring but my guess would be Dunedin for Loewen... He is a former MLB player and you don't want to culture shock him too much by having him in the Midwest League w 19 and 20 year olds... Plus Dunedin offers better weather early in the season and he can also head over to the extended spring fields for extra work.

Keep in mind too that Loewen will be Rule 5 eligible this winter and teams like Seattle who really wanted to sign him could take a flyer on him... Plus maybe Baltimore really wants him back. It wouldn't be the first time a team used to Rule 5 to grab a minor league free agent that they lot out on... I believe RA Dickey is an example of that from last year... Sure it's a huge stretch to expect him to be ready next spring, but the team grabbing him could hope to work out a trade or catch lightning in a bottle.

Bullington is good depth for Syracuse. You can see his repertoire here and how he used it in his stint in the Majors (at the bottom of the page under pitch type).

Marc Hulet - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 12:31 AM EDT (#193573) #
Sorry... link doesn't work. Just copy this:
christaylor - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 01:20 AM EDT (#193574) #
I love the scouting report on Adams. It includes, "Feet and hands work properly." - too bad scouts get things wrong, sometimes.
Wildrose - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 01:30 AM EDT (#193575) #
I love this signing. I saw Loewen bat cleanup for Canada's Junior National Team in Lethbridge back in 2000 against the American Junior  National team which had  Jeremy Bonderman and Joe Mauer  on it. ( I believe the Canadian team also had Russell Martin at third and Calgary Stampeder reciever  Brett Ralph at short) The talk amongst the scouting fraternity was that Loewen was an outstanding hitting prospect as well.

 "He's a legitimate offensive player. His bat is a pro bat as well. We're not talking about a one-dimensional kid. He can handle pro pitching right now, and he's handled the best international pitching quite well, as well as major Division 1 college pitching," says Hamilton. "You could realistically say that if he never pitched, he's still a pro prospect."

Not everybody can be Rick Ankeil, but Loewen was a legitimate hitting prospect. Ankiel moved back to hitting at the same age as Loewen and was back in the show 2.5 years later. I'll watch his career with interest.

Wildrose - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 01:40 AM EDT (#193576) #
Beeston now involved in the Burnett  contract situation per Blair.

The Atlanta-Journal constitution reported Friday that Burnett, who is viewed as an option by the Braves if they don't trade for Jake Peavy, was due to receive a four-year, take it or leave it offer from the Blue Jays. 
Wildrose - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 01:54 AM EDT (#193577) #
Good story by Elliott on Loewen.

"Delmon Young, Lastings Milledge and a whole bunch of guys now in the majors were there," Hamilton said. "Adam won the batting title."

greenfrog - Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#193578) #
I really like the Loewen move. It sounds as though he once had great hitting talent; the question is, is it too late for him to get back on track? Either way, having Loewen will make the Jays organization more interesting to follow.

If the Jays are serious about not wanting to give AJ more than 3/$48M (which Blair's article implies), I think he's as good as gone. Even 4/$64M might not get it done. I have no idea what his market value is, but I'm guessing it's around 4 or 5 years at $16-19M per year.
Geoff - Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#193581) #
But BJ is a nickname, not his given names, like Bo Jr or Allen James would be. The whole point of adopting a nickname is usually that your given name is so horrendous you need to be called something else.

Take for instance, Leslie Sabastian Charles, or Reginald Dwight. Know who they are?

Or Terry Bollea, Marvin Aday, Maurice Micklewhite, Dante Smith, Natalie Hershlag, Enrique Morales, Ralph Lipschitz, Calvin Broadus, or Eldrick Woods?

I'll give you the last one, because it's almost as bad as Melvin Upton. He calls himself Tiger, which is really cool. But he still has a sorry name in Eldrick.

Bo Jr. Ryan and Allen James Burnett don't have near the same resonance as Reginald Dwight. Of course everything gets prettier when you completely change the name.

Why do I bring this up? I guess because it's been a week since Mick's last Hall of Names installment and I'm having OCD-names withdrawal.
Greg - Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#193582) #
Then there's Arnold Dorsey, who went in a TOTALLY opposite direction
Greg - Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#193583) #


I had no idea about Ms. Hershlag...I think I'm more attracted to her by that name...maybe it's just me.

timpinder - Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 10:03 PM EDT (#193587) #

It's being reported in The Miami Herald that the Jays are in trade talks with the Marlins for Mike Jacobs:

Glevin - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 10:28 AM EDT (#193588) #
Interesting. I imagine the Marlins would want prospects in return. The Jays would probably have to give up one of their top-5 prospects, but Jacobs is still only 27 and has major power.
SK in NJ - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 11:06 AM EDT (#193589) #

I like Jacobs. He has a ton of power and is entering his prime. I just don't know what the Jays would be able to give up for him. Without Marcum and McGowan, guys like Cecil, Purcey, and even a fringy prospect like Romero are tough to give up at this point. I don't think the Jays have the expendable prospects to make this type of trade work, but at least they are noticing a major weakness (power) and targetting young long-term options, even though I expect they will settle for an older and less desirable one (Ibanez/Giambi).

The Royals are actually a good match for the Marlins since they (KC) have a fair amount of toolsy pitchers that FLA seems to covet. I wouldn't be surprised if that's where Jacobs ends up eventually, even if the article said a deal between the two fell through.

Glevin - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 11:37 AM EDT (#193592) #
Rotoworld also suggested a Teahen (moving back to 3B) to Cleveland for one of their 4th OFer types trade. I can actually see TB getting Jacobs too. They have enough decent prospects to trade and he could step in at DH and #5 hitter. Plenty of teams will have interest though. Acording to the article, Florida is also apparently dangling Olson who is still only 24 and gave up less than a hit an inning last year.
Mike Green - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 12:12 PM EDT (#193593) #
Ugh.  Jacobs is a first baseman who brings less offensive and defensive value to the table than Lyle Overbay.  As a DH, he has been a semi-platoon player with a career OPS+ of 110, but this OPS+ is slug-heavy and achieved in the weaker league.  His true value is as a power bat off the bench.  You don't want to pay him much for that role, and you certainly don't want to give up much of a prospect.
Glevin - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 02:56 PM EDT (#193594) #
A power bat off the bench? The man would have hit 40 HRs if he were healthy this year. I certainly don't love him and don't think the Jays should offer all that much, but he slugged .514 which was better than any Jay, while playing in a pitcher's park. His away numbers were very very good. He had an .872 OPS and a 135 OPS+ on the road. He's not a superstar, but he's not close to being a bench player.
92-93 - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 03:04 PM EDT (#193595) #
What Mike said. Lyle is a MUCH better defensive option, and frankly is the better hitter too. If this Jays lineup wasn't so desperate for some pop (in otherwords, by actually getting 100 HR from it's OF/DH) this wouldn't even be a decision. Jacobs can help though, as the LH side of a DH platoon. Just not as the everyday 1B.
Mike Green - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 06:28 PM EDT (#193597) #
Cliff Floyd was at least as good a hitter coming into 2008 as Jacobs is going into 2009.  He was actually better, in my opinion.  If you're going to use one of these guys in a part-time 1B/DH or corner OF/DH roles, you don't want to give up much and you don't want to spend much.

You don't want your platoon DH to have a sub-.300 OBP, even if they hit 30 homers.
TamRa - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 08:21 PM EDT (#193598) #
If I was going to platoon at DH, I think I could do considerably worse that seeing if Brian Tallet would get you Chris Duncan from the Cards. Duncan is excess for them, Tallet is excess for us...they are pretty intent on adding LH relief, and Duncan is a poor fielder who can't touch lefties. But put him and Bautista into a DH platoon and you might have something.

TamRa - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 09:08 PM EDT (#193599) #
If I was going to platoon at DH, I think I could do considerably worse that seeing if Brian Tallet would get you Chris Duncan from the Cards. Duncan is excess for them, Tallet is excess for us...they are pretty intent on adding LH relief, and Duncan is a poor fielder who can't touch lefties. But put him and Bautista into a DH platoon and you might have something.

Mike Green - Monday, October 27 2008 @ 09:09 PM EDT (#193600) #
If he's healthy, Duncan is a better thought than Jacobs.  Duncan had cervical disc surgery in the summer.
rtcaino - Tuesday, October 28 2008 @ 08:32 AM EDT (#193602) #

To be fair, as a platoon player, Jacobs is not a sub 300 obp guy.

Versus Righties over 2005-2007 he went:

.266 .325 .504 .829

Which isn't all that bad. Our offence would have been a lot better last year with that production against righties from the DH spot.

Mike Green - Tuesday, October 28 2008 @ 09:09 AM EDT (#193604) #
Stairs had a bad year in 2008.  Over his 2 years in Toronto, Stairs hit .270/.357/.476, which is a lot better than Jacobs will project to.  And he cost very little.  That is the difference between a good acquisition and a poor one. 

Stairs and Floyd (or Cliff Johnson or David Ortiz) are examples of the kinds of players you want to acquire to fill the DH role. These guys can hit, and all know the strike zone.  They just don't have a position.  

Geoff - Wednesday, October 29 2008 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#193629) #
Cliff Johnson? Why would you want him on your team when he'll likely end up putting B.J. Ryan on the disabled list for a few months?

You'd prosper better long-term by taking Jacobs. Provided he doesn't cause injuries.

Jays Sign Loewen, Claim Bullington, DFA Mench | 43 comments | Create New Account
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