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You'll be able to read an article I wrote about the second base depth in the Toronto Blue Jays system at the Toronto Sun online today (Friday, Jan. 9)... The article was originally supposed to be the first in an ongoing, weekly series that would focus on the Jays minor league system and prospects, but the sports department at the paper was recently hit by downsizing so the column has been put on hold for now. Hopefully, I will get the go-ahead by the time the season starts. I should give a big thank you to Sun columnist Bob Elliott, as well as Sun sports editor Dave Fuller, for helping me get it published.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from the article, which was said by the scout that signed Brad Emaus when speaking about the second baseman's college career. "He had good knowledge of the strike zone, and showed the ability to use the whole field. His career numbers were up and down. (In) his draft year, he played in a pitcher-friendly, Triple-A park, as the field at Tulane was under construction," Matt Briggs said. "I felt like his numbers were slightly not as good as they could have been under different circumstances. We had him evaluated better than your normal 11th-round pick."

It's been a pretty slow off-season for Jays fans... There hasn't been much player movement or even juicy rumours to keep us amused. If you're bored by sure to check out the 2009 Graphical Player, which is now available at Chapters and other fine bookstores, as well as through, The Hardball Times, and Acta Sports. It features some of the best online baseball writers in the biz, as well as myself, who was honoured to write the player comments for all the Toronto Blue Jays players.

As editor John Burnson, who also writes for Heater Magazine, says, its the sixth annual edition of the Graphical Player with more than two dozen writers and more coverage than ever before! The writers include Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus, Jeff Sackmann of, Michael Taylor of, and Eric Seidman of

As well, for about the past year, I have been keeping busy by writing about minor league baseball in general at, which has also recently added a Fantasy Section. There is an amazing team of writers, which includes the above-mentioned Eric Seidman, as well as Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner, and Matthew Carruth of the Hardball Times, among other talented writers. If you haven't already, you should check it out. It's become a popular spot for Rob Neyer, who quite often quotes articles in his postings.

OK, enough about me and what I've been doing to keep busy during the off-season that always seems too long... what baseball Websites does everyone else frequent during these dull, quiet days of January? Do you have any good Jays minor league baseball gossip? I know I cannot wait for us to begin covering the 2009 minor league season! What Jays prospects are you excited about for 2009?? Have you been reading Baseball America's Top 10 prospect lists for all the clubs? The 2009 Prospect Handbook comes out in less than a month! The Baseball Prospectus annual should be out soon too. And I just ordered the 2009 Hardball Times Annual.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
John Northey - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 09:49 AM EST (#195502) #
Congrats on getting printed!

Interesting to think about the Jays 2B situation going forward eh? 
Majors: Hill (signed through 2014), Inglett (under 2 years service)
AAA: Scott Campbell (mix match fielding at 3B as well)
AA: Brad Emaus (the 11th round pick)
A+: John Tolisano
A/low A: Oliver Dominguez

Not bad.  None catch me as knock your socks off but your description of Emaus (be sure to read the article people!) suggests he could be something special and Dominguez could be interesting too.  Odds are the Jays will try to see if any can play 3B. If any can handle SS that would be fantastic but I'm not betting on it.

John Northey - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 09:54 AM EST (#195503) #
As follow up...stats (including college in some cases)
Scott Campbell
Brad Emaus
John Tolisano
Oliver Dominguez
Gerry - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 09:57 AM EST (#195504) #

Congratulations Marc.  As payment for your story do you get to attend a photo shoot for the sunshine girl?

The second base depth is complex.  With Campbell, Emaus and Tolisano you have three players who can hit but whose defense is questionable.  If you want to get a regular job in the majors, and your defense is not so good, you better hit like Dan Uggla.  So the challenge for each of these players is to take their hitting up a notch, or improve their defense.  If they can't do one of those then the 2B depth might disappear quickly.

Chuck - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 10:26 AM EST (#195505) #

Second base is a tough position for tweeners. Odds are that they don't have enough bat to survive further down on the defensive spectrum.

Tweeners at shortstop can at least try to salvage careers as second basemen. But if you've already long proven unworthy as a defensive shortstop and have questions surrounding your defense at second, you could be trapped in purgatory. As Gerry said, the team's second base depth may prove illusory.

Mike Green - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 10:41 AM EST (#195507) #
I remain optimistic about Campbell, but then I've always had an "irrational" preference for players who are able to post a positive W/K in double A before age 25. 
Denoit - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 11:13 AM EST (#195509) #
I don't see any of them replacing Aaron Hill. Tolisano has the power potential there, but he is a long ways off Maybe he is the one to replace Hill in the distant future. Other than that hopefully Hill is ready to go this year, top notch defence with his bat are hard to find. Its good to have the depth, and maybe package one or two in a trade but these guys are far from impact players.
Lugnut Fan - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 12:24 PM EST (#195515) #
I think you could potentially see some position changes.  I had heard some rumblings last year that Tolisano may be moved to a corner outfield position.  He got better at second as the year went on, but I think a move to the outfield would be a positive one.
TamRa - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 02:26 PM EST (#195519) #
What Jays prospects are you excited about for 2009??

My top 10 things to watch-

Campbell - I don't expect him to supplant Hill, or want him to...but I'd like to see him grow into the Catalanotto comparison. If he could be the sort of player Inglett is defensively with a little better offensive upside that'd be nice.

Ricky-Ro - this is the year he needs to really start consolidating

Brad Mills - is he really THIS good?

JPA - really interested in that walk rate

Emaus - I'm distressed that Dick Scott doesn't seem interested in him at third. i had harbored a hunch that he could be groomed to step in for Rolen if we let the vet walk after 2010. If not, I don't see how he fits on the team.

J-Jack - would love to see him live up to the hype this season

Ahrens - needs to step up and show some progress

Balbino - how can you not root for this guy? With a name like "Balbino!" fercryinoutloud?

Thames - want to see this guy in action

Eiland - hoping production comes up to the level of his reported tools

Ryan Day - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 03:17 PM EST (#195522) #
I like Emaus, and I think he'll be impressive in 09; I suspect he's got the bat for third, even if second doesn't work out.

The three lefties, Romero, Cecil, and Mills, are obviously of great interest. I'd guess we get one very good pitcher, one okay pitcher, and one disappointment out of them, but who will be who? I particularly like Mills, who seems like he could a Shaun Marcum type - flying under the radar despite being quite good.

I'm hoping Eric Eiland has a breakout year. He could be a great player to watch if he puts things together.

ayjackson - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 05:32 PM EST (#195530) #

Great work, Marc.  I was wondering if you will be updating your encyclopedia of Jays Prospects that you had started last year and made available at the now deceased

As for what I'll be looking for from prospects this year - a quick advancement by Zip through A+ and AA; Justin Jackson's emergence as our top prospect (I think he'll rake this year); and a successful conversion to the bullpen by Brandon Magee.

Marc Hulet - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 06:31 PM EST (#195532) #
Ah, the Sunshine Girls... I knew I forgot something in negotiations... ;)

I am actually working on a second annual minor league Jays bible with scouting reports and detailed stats for every prospect in the system, but I have gotten slowed down... I am hoping to have it done by March... definitely by the time the season starts... It should be 150-200 pages or so...

Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

TamRa - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 07:17 PM EST (#195536) #
So that was you that wrote up the "every prospect" reports I've been refering too all year? That was great work. it's been an invaluable source to me. if you have some blog or regular site where your work is published please let me know and I'll add a link at the Southpaw because your stuff is must read for a Jays fan, IMO.

Mylegacy - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 09:52 PM EST (#195541) #
Speaking of shameless plugs...

While all of us here are at least somewhat demented when it comes to our beloved Jays - Marc Hulet is in a class by himself. Unlike myself, and many others here - Marc actually produces the BEST stuff ("stuff" is a technical baseball word for "neat stuff") about the Jays, and other "neat stuff" as well, that can be found on the net. Marc's "book" on every player in the Jay's system last year is fantastic - I still refer to it regularily.

Marc - Many, many thanks for all your"stuff."


My "Top 10 things to watch in 2009" is actually - "Eleven Lefties and a Righty" (OK - I can count  - if I want a "Top 10" list that has 12 on it - WHY NOT?)

I doubt there is a team in baseball with 11 lefties in the minors that can match - in the order I rank them: Brett Cecil, Brad Mills, Ricky Romero, Davis Romero, Luis Perez, Tim Collins, Cody Crowell, Nate Starner, Ryan Page, Edgar Estanga and Chuck Huggins.

My "Righty" is Bobby Bell: between SS and Low A he pitched 31 innings with 15 hits, 0 BB and 43 SO.  Not so worse for an 18th rounder, eh?

John Northey - Friday, January 09 2009 @ 10:31 PM EST (#195542) #
  The high minors is easy to watch, and normally somewhat predictable.  The lower is the most fun though.

Tiny Tim (who must be sick of that nickname already) Collins is one I think all at the BB will watch.  Bobby Bell is interesting with that 43-0 K-BB ratio. 

Sometimes older prospects can be fun too.  Jo Matumoto I've been cheering on since he signed, as his odds are so low yet here he is pitching in AAA/AA - so close yet so far.

Canadians are always fun too like Joel Collins, a catcher who hit 326/415/525 in Auburn at age 22.  Hopefully they push him a bit this year (A+ to start, mid-season to AA) so we can see if he can make it.
TamRa - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 04:15 AM EST (#195543) #
I guess my 10 will have to be 11 too. I totally forgot to mention Adam Loewen!! He might be in the top 3 "stories" I'll be watching unfold in 2009

Mylegacy - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 12:33 PM EST (#195548) #
Among my "Top 10" are such players as, the twelve I mentioned earlier, and ALSO Adam Loewen and Eric Thames - did I mention a fanatical devotion to the Pope?
Chuck - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 02:34 PM EST (#195549) #
did I mention a fanatical devotion to the Pope?

Nobody expects a sandwich acquisiton.
Care Force One - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 07:24 PM EST (#195550) #
What about bringing back juan Samuel? Anybody? How about guys that swing both ways, you know, like AC/DC? 


Touch 'em all Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!!

Rex Murphy, esq.

Mylegacy - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 08:41 PM EST (#195551) #
Chuck, that was GOOD!

I didn't know you were a "wit". Well OK, maybe a half "wit."

Chuck - Saturday, January 10 2009 @ 08:59 PM EST (#195552) #
maybe a half "wit."

... mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers...
TamRa - Sunday, January 11 2009 @ 02:14 AM EST (#195554) #
I didn't know you were a "wit". Well OK, maybe a half "wit."

I believe the proper phrasing is "He thinks he's a wit - he's half right"

brent - Sunday, January 11 2009 @ 04:42 AM EST (#195556) #
When will the banner at the top of the page be changed? I think maybe Rios deserves to have a spot up there. What about having pictures with the powder blues?
TamRa - Sunday, January 11 2009 @ 01:13 PM EST (#195558) #
Am I the only Jays fan alive who HATES the powder blues?

I'd much rather see the early-90's unis that Alomar & Co. wore.

Mylegacy - Sunday, January 11 2009 @ 08:03 PM EST (#195560) #
Another of my "Top 10" List is Adam Amar.

Adam joins Eric Thames and another Adam, Loewen as my "big three" power guys of 09.

The difference between them is that  Amar, the 22 year old (in 2008), 6' 4" 240 pound 1st baseman, has actually produced. In 08 at Auburn were he hit: 302/359/476 with 9 home runs and 42 rbi's in 252 at bats. He's interesting in that he was a very successful Memphis Tiger who (apparently) was not drafted and played on two independent teams in 07 before accepting an invitation to Spring Training 2008 with the Jays. He was excellent at Auburn. I REALLY look forward to his progress in 2009.

brent - Sunday, January 11 2009 @ 11:49 PM EST (#195563) #

I think one of JP's greatest weaknesses is not trying to sell high. It is very difficult to say how much this affects the team. None of us know what deals were out there or not (who knows what the Jays could have gotten for AJ before the deadline, we just don't know). He holds onto players until there is nothing left  (except the strange Brandon Lyon release and Reed Johnson). Despite Toronto needing pitching at the beginning of the season, it is the perfect time to try and match up with a team for Scott Downs. Teams don't want BJ's contract. Downs had a career year, and you have to try to take advantage of that if possible. The team has written off 2009, so now is the time. If Downs has a bad month before the deadline, his value could be significantly less. You won't be able to exactly replace his season last year, but with Tallet and other young pitchers that could begin in the bullpen, he could be covered for. His contract makes him an attractive asset for other teams.

This is just an example of an opportunity for the team to get younger without taking a big hit. Last year, the Jays should have taken one less pitcher out of spring training and kept Stewart and Johnson (like I advocated). The Thomas release and Stewart breakdown could have been less detrimental to the team if Johnson had still been around. They wouldn't have had to pick up Mench and Wilkerson (or got rid of them sooner). Why did the team need the extra guy out of the bullpen at the start of the year? JP should be ready to spring a deal for any player (not named Halladay or Snider) when the price is right.

I know JP has to find a trading partner to make moves, but Beane always manages to find a taker when he is ready. I think JP needs to be more aggressive in getting the trade done. I don't think that JP is a bad GM, I just don't think he can get it done in the AL East as long as he continues as he has (despite his increased learning curve). He needs to be a far less conservative GM if he wants to have a shot at the division title.

92-93 - Monday, January 12 2009 @ 12:03 AM EST (#195564) #
It doesn't necessarily need to be Downs, but a trade from our bullpen strength is basically a necessity. I thought Frasor and Tallet would be non-tendered, but clearly JP thinks they have some value either to the team or on the market, so he's gotta make something happen. As it stands - Ryan Downs League Carlson Janssen Tallet Frasor Accardo Wolfe Camp and DRomero make 11 guys with MLB experience for 7 (and what should be 6) spots, and we haven't even scratched the surface with minor league options.
brent - Monday, January 12 2009 @ 02:43 AM EST (#195568) #
I just meant that Downs has a lot of value, and the team could probably replace his production. It was just an example. I just think that the Jays need more ways of acquiring talent than just the draft. OTOH, perhaps JP has been burnt trying to acquire other teams' young players and has given up (Prokopec, Arnold, Santos and the filler in the Stairs and Eckstein deadline deals,it is hard to think of many examples as I think it is not too common for JP).
TamRa - Monday, January 12 2009 @ 02:52 AM EST (#195569) #
I think he may yet be alright on Tallett but JP probably misread the market on Frasor. There's plenty of RH relievers out there that won't cost a team anything in terms of a trade.

I think JP figured that he might be able to use either of them in a trade closer to ST but I don't see why anyone would deal for Frasor right now, even though I think he's better than most Jays fans give him credit for. Maybe some team has an out-of-options player they would trade for him in March...but then a guy who's out of options would have to fit on our roster too and it doesn't have a lot of open positions.

John Northey - Monday, January 12 2009 @ 10:26 AM EST (#195572) #
Trades are a challenging thing.  I think I remember a study (wish I could remember where it was) that found as a rule teams end up weaker after trades on both sides - players tend to perform at a lower than expected level.  Seems possible, especially for mid-season trades (guy goes from place he is comfortable to a place without his family and having to set up a new home, etc.).  It is something that would be worth digging into though (no idea how to put it together - lots of work to find out all trades for a period of time and then to measure production for traded players vs production for non-traded players).

Timing is everything in sports.  Cat was let go at just the right time, Lyon was not (for two simple examples).  Guessing when a guy will cliff dive or when he will make a sudden improvement is vital to winning, especially if you don't have a $200 million payroll.  Like I mentioned in an earlier thread, I have to go to that $ database and see how JP has done with free agents, trades, etc. for value for the dollar.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.