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The Blue Jays have acquired pitcher Merkin Valdez in a deal with the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations.  Jordan Bastian of says Valdez will join the crowded competition for a spot in the Jays bullpen.

28 year-old Merkin Valdez joins the Blue Jays after making a career-high 48 appearances out of the Giants bullpen in 2009.  The 6-5, 230 pound right-hander was 2-1 with a 5.66 ERA and struck out 38 hitters in 49 innings but his WHIP was 1.723.  A free agent signed by the Atlanta Braves back in 1999 out of the Dominican Republic under the alias of Manuel Mateo, Valdez was dealt to San Francisco with lefty Damian Moss for righty Russ Ortiz before the 2003 campaign despite going 7-3 with a 1.98 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Braves.

Valdez continued to show promise in '03 by whiffing 166 batters in 156 innings while posting a 9-5 record with a 2.25 ERA with Class-A Hagerstown.  He earned a selection to the Futures Stars Game that season and that would mark the first of three straight appearances at the event.  In 2004, Valdez made it all the way to the bigs after making stops in Class A San Jose, Class AA Norwich and Class AAA Fresno.  He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning with an 80-24 K-BB mark in 82 1/3 innings while posting a combined ERA of 3.72.  Valdez made two appearances with the Giants in August but gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings for an ERA of 27.00.

Valdez took two steps back in 2005 as he stayed in Norwich for the entire campaign.  Despite a 5-6 record, his ERA was 3.53 and he struck out 96 batters in 107 innings.  He spent the 2006 season in Fresno where he struggled to an 0-4 record with a 5.80 ERA and his WHIP was 1.832 in 49 2/3 innings.  Valdez then had Tommy John surgery for his ailing right elbow and wound missing the 2007 season.  Valdez made it back to the bigs in 2008 and had a successful stint to begin the season.  He was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 appearances, all but one of them out of the bullpen.  However, his season was cut short around mid-May when his elbow started acting up again.  The good news was he made it through 2009 without incident.

Valdez is known for bringing the heat with a mid-90's fastball that has been clocked as high as 99 miles per hour.  He also throws a low-80's slider and changeup.  Designated for assignment by the Giants to make room for first baseman Aubrey Huff, Valdez hopes to put things together with the Jays in 2010.  However, he is out of options so he would have to clear waivers if he doesn't make the club out of spring training.

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perlhack - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:00 PM EST (#211280) #
Over at Cardinal Nation, there's a post discussing Adam Wainwright's thoughts about sabermetrics, with a few quotations such as "They can take all that sabermetric stuff and stick it where the sun donít shine.." To be fair, he's discussing the use of sabermetrics in the Cy Young voting, and not the field in general.
perlhack - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:02 PM EST (#211281) #
Frankly, with the depth the Jays have in relief pitching, I don't see a role for Valdez here.
codyla - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:06 PM EST (#211282) #
I for one like this deal. It wasn't too long ago that Valdez was once a top prospect. I like how AA is going after former, high ceiling talent~ Broadway, Reed,  and now Valdez.
codyla - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:08 PM EST (#211283) #
Not to mention he does have some history as a starter and could be used in a long relief / spot starter role.
Grasshopper - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:15 PM EST (#211284) #
I couldn't agree more.  I like the route AA is going.  I think that some of these moves are going to pan out.
85bluejay - Wednesday, January 20 2010 @ 11:42 PM EST (#211288) #

With Pineiro signing with the Angels, the Mets need major league pitching (Hello Romero/Mills/Tallet/Frasor/Downs etc.) and the Jays need positional prospects

(Fernando Martinez/Rueben Tajada/Wilmer flores). I hope AA is working on it. 

Denoit - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 08:38 AM EST (#211289) #

Frankly, with the depth the Jays have in relief pitching, I don't see a role for Valdez here.

The "percieved' depth can vanish very quickly with injuries. If there is one thing Jays fans should have realized in the past few years is that making it through the season without injuries just doesn't happen. Even making it through spring training is unlikley. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe there are only 4 pitchers without options in the bullpen. Tallet, Frasor, Downs and Camp. So if Valdez can pitch just as well as a guy with options, they can send the guy with options down and have an extra pitcher for when he is needed. The competition should be pretty intense.


John Northey - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 09:15 AM EST (#211290) #
Don't forget that for the most part the Jays can release without cost.  So try out a batch of these guys in the spring, see if they have improved (high ceiling) and if not dump them or send to AAA depending on the situation.

The cost is minimal, the potential benefit (if you find the diamond in the rough) is high.  I figure we won't see as much of this in 2011 as AA's ML scouts will have a full year to assess guys thus he'll have far more knowledge going in.  However this year he is building his staff so it makes sense to grab every high-upside guy you can and let the scouts have fun this spring.
Mike Green - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 09:50 AM EST (#211292) #
Nice header, #2JB.  An alternative: Welcome to the Merkin Week....I know it don't thrill you, I hope it don't kill you

Is it just me, or did the Giants handle Merkin's post-TJ "baseball rehab" strangely? According to Baseball Cube he was out all of 2007 with the TJ.  In 2008, he pitched 1 inning in Triple A and was then called up to the Show, and spent all of last year struggling.  I presume that Valdez will be off to Las Vegas or New Hampshire.  Youneverknow what might happen after that.  Collecting injury rehab pitching prospects is always been a good idea, as far as I am concerned.
Mike Green - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 10:43 AM EST (#211295) #
And the additions of Merkin Valdez and Callix Crabbe must set some kind of standard from a Hall of Names perspective.  What are the odds that a club will sign some Merkin and Callix at the same time?  Hosken and Rance have nothing on these guys.
Chuck - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 12:01 PM EST (#211298) #
I'm hoping that merkin means something entirely different in Spanish.
Richard S.S. - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 02:11 PM EST (#211300) #
Correct me if I'm wrong, but we are filling 7 positions on the MLB team and 7 positions on the AAA team.   Promotions from AA will fill some AAA positions.   We should carry 3 left-handers on the MLB team (not as Closer - Scott Downs was Closer; nor as starter - Brian Tallet was starter and Jesse Carlson was overworked).   Jason Frasor (RHP), Downs (LHP), Tallet (LHP), Shawn Camp (RHP) do not have any options remaining. Jeremy Accardo (who should be our Closer) will not report to AAA with his option being used, he'd rather be traded.   Carlson (LHP), Zech Zinicola (RHP - Rule 5 Draft Pick), Dirk Hayhurst (RHP), Casey Janssen (RHP), Josh Roenicke (RHP), Merkin Valdez (RHP) and more are competing for just two MLB positions, and possibly 3 or 4 AAA positions.   Any one have any ideas?
Mike Green - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 02:47 PM EST (#211301) #
If you have 30 pitchers in the off-season competing for 21 high minor/major league bullpen slots, the odds are that 3-4 will be on the DL by the time decisions have to be made.  Some will be released.

I imagine that Frasor will be the closer, but that's just a guess.  It's not obvious that Accardo is a better pitcher than him.

Denoit - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 03:01 PM EST (#211302) #

Here is how I see it everyone stays healthy (Big assumption). I dont like making lineups cause I know things will change, but im bored...

I know Janssen has had some success in the past, but I see him as being a long shot to make the team this year. Roenicke and Valdez if they preform at camp and are healthy have much more upside. I think the trend we are seeing with AA is a switch from having OK guys who will probably do well, to taking a bit more of risk on a player with a high ceiling. I know Cito makes the lineup, but I think his descisions could be influenced by Anthopolous.  I Also have a feeling the options players will come into play in one way or another.

So here is my MLB lineup

Frasor (CL to start I can't see him there all year though), Downs (SU), Accardo, Valdez, Camp, Tallet, Carlson


Roenicke, Janssen, could flip Roenicke in for Valdez if he isn't up to it.


Nick Holmes - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 04:26 PM EST (#211305) #
I don't know how much i'd be counting on Broadway this year:
christaylor - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 05:23 PM EST (#211308) #
Not that I'm counting on anything it seems strange the site talks about a lawsuit rather than a criminal charge for assault. The police wouldn't comment, which means nothing, I've heard.
codyla - Thursday, January 21 2010 @ 08:52 PM EST (#211312) #

The man is only filing a lawsuit, and not pressing charges.  Even if charges do arise, assuming this is a first time offence for Broadway, he is not going to do any jail time. He might get slapped with some community service at the most ~ or possibly have to give the man a settlement. Even though he never made much money MLB wise, I'm sure he still made more than enough to settle this guys demands.

Spifficus - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 10:13 AM EST (#211314) #
Huh. So we signed Shawn Hill to a minor league deal. That looks like an interesting health-upside play, with CanCon to boot. Not a bad piece to stash away in Vegas, anyway. I wonder if long-man duties might help keep his arm attached.
Wildrose - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 10:46 AM EST (#211316) #
I'm not surprised they invited Hill to spring training given that he's a local lad and the front office is loaded with former Expo scouts who would know him well, what does surprise me is that he's actually able to pitch after having TJ surgery only last June. Perhaps this was just more of a "tune-up" on his elbow from his first TJ surgery.
subculture - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 11:40 AM EST (#211317) #
I actually quite liked Janssen while he was up with the Jays and healthy, and unless there's a reason why he couldn't regain that health would like to see him get a shot as a starter.  At the very least I think he'll be a capable set-up guy... He seemed to put everything he had into the game, and be very coachable.  He also had some impressive games... don't know where to find the reference info, but some near complete games with very low hits/walks allowed.. I felt his upside was higher than Dave Bush, and I think he's a serviceable back-end starter (again, when healthy). 
Mike Green - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 11:59 AM EST (#211319) #
Bryan Smith has been running a series on right-handed sinkerballers this week at Fangraphs.  His thesis is that these guys make a better transition from the minors to the majors than most scouts expect (and he acknowledges that he did buy into the consensus formerly).  In the final part of his series today, he recommends Randy Boone as the first starter the Jays should call up.

Boone does not have much mileage on his arm, and there is plenty to like about him at a modest level.  Add him to the list of pitchers who might be able to give you 200 slightly above league average innings 3 years from now.  That has a lot of value (notwithstanding the romance of upside).
Richard S.S. - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 03:27 PM EST (#211323) #


The Shawn Hill signing and invite to Spring Training don't make any sense.   Approximately 85% of all first-time Tommy-John surgeries are successful ((approx. 85-105% ability restored), usually taking a rare 12 months to a normal 18 months to a rare 24 months to recover almost fully.   A second Tommy-John surgery, on the same arm, will not be as successful (approx. 50-???%), nor is ability restored (approx. 50-???%) to any degree.   These recoveries almost always take longer (15-20% more).   I like the signing - for 2011.

Where I work, I can ask an MD, sometimes you can understand what they're saying.

Matthew E - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 03:30 PM EST (#211324) #
It could just be that they see him as more of a long-term investment, and the spring training invitation is just to keep an eye on him. I mean, I don't know what the Jays are going to do with all these pitchers; there just isn't room for them all. More plausibly-talented pitchers in this organization than Carter's got pills.
Admin - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 03:36 PM EST (#211325) #

Boone has fringy stuff so he needs to hit his spots (and have some luck) to be successful.  I think you leave those guys in the minors until their control is at a level that they have a better chance to succeed.

Reidier Gonzalez is more of a sinker/slider guy than Boone.  Boone throws four pitches and keeps the ball low while he mixes his pitches.

ayjackson - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 03:47 PM EST (#211327) #
We have Admin?  I'd better watch myself.
Mike Green - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 04:20 PM EST (#211329) #
Is that Gerry, maybe?

I haven't seen Boone pitch, and I have no idea whether Bryan Smith has.  He does have a pretty good minor league record though.  What Smith's research suggests (albeit not as strongly as you'd want) is that guys like him once they arrive in the majors tend to have below average K rates, average W rates, better than average HR rates, but better than the expected FIP.  In other words, that there is a particular ground-ball effect, because major league infielders do a significantly better job of turning ground balls into outs and turning double plays than their minor league counterparts.  So, these kinds of pitchers strike out fewer than they did in the minors, walk more, give up more home runs, but don't see their ERAs go up as most other pitchers. 

Gonzalez is a little behind Boone in the development cycle, and apparently gets fewer ground balls, but is (I agree) a better prospect.  What Smith did for me is alert me to the fact that Boone ought to be remembered, fringy stuff or no.  That's the thing with pitchers- there are many C prospects and some significant number of them will succeed.  It's pretty hard to predict which ones.

Gerry - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 10:37 PM EST (#211332) #
Admin was me, sorry.  I had been doing some clean up earlier.
Gerry - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 10:41 PM EST (#211333) #
Per Bastian, Hill is on the same schedule as Jesse Litsch so we won't see him until May or June.
92-93 - Friday, January 22 2010 @ 11:53 PM EST (#211334) #
Some tweets I found interesting :

"Interesting chat with AA. Blue Jays plan new soft rule of waiting 12 months for pitchers post TJ surgery before they start pitching again." - Shi Davidi

"in 1998 with the Toronto i was 100% clean. 46 hr 107 rbi's and played in 151 games. I weighed 229lbs documented." - Jose Canseco
scottt - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 07:52 AM EST (#211337) #
Hill is only 28. and he was better following his first TJ surgery than before. However, I don't know if we'd be talking about him if he wasn't born in Mississauga.

Richard S.S. - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 01:23 PM EST (#211339) #
I'm from Alberta, Hill could be from the Moon, if he can pitch he'll get talked about.   If he's deaf, dumb and blind and can still pitch he'll get talked about.  This is the best stat set available for Shawn Hill:   If he can start or relieve as good as his stats suggest, he's a good find.
Jim - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 02:56 PM EST (#211340) #
Nice header, #2JB.  An alternative:

Merkin for the Weekend
Chuck - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 04:37 PM EST (#211341) #

"in 1998 with the Toronto i was 100% clean. 46 hr 107 rbi's and played in 151 games. I weighed 229lbs documented." - Jose Canseco

I don't know what's more interesting, that Canseco is tweeting or that anyone is listening.

greenfrog - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 05:21 PM EST (#211342) #
107 RBI is a pretty low total to go with 46 HR. I guess that's what happens when you hit 237/318/518. Exactly one-third of his hits were HRs. He also stole 29 bases (and was caught 17 times). Weird year.
scottt - Saturday, January 23 2010 @ 08:27 PM EST (#211343) #
Washington released Hill  who had been the ace of their staff in 2007.  It's probably his physical, not his numbers they didn't like.

Tommy Jones surgery in Fall 2004.
Did no pitch in 2005.
Shut down because of elbow soreness in 2006.
Surgery to repair a compressed radial nerve in his right forearm and to fix a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder in Fall 2007.
Shut down after 12 starts in 2008, surgery to remove bones spurs from his right arm.
Shut down after 3 starts in 2009, Tommy Jones in June.

If he's proven one thing, it's that he can pitch through pain. Still, Toronto already had its share of injured pitchers attempting returns.

Best of luck to him, though.

Btw, what's the latest news on Dustin McGowan? Is he reporting to spring training?

Richard S.S. - Sunday, January 24 2010 @ 02:35 AM EST (#211344) #

As far as I know, all reports say he's throwing again, but no one is saying how hard he's going at it, nor if he's throwing from a mound just yet.   By all accounts, I think he'll be at Spring Training.   But then again, probably close to 100 pitchers (or is that too low) should report.   Most of what we know is guess-work and wishful thinking - no hard data.

I believe Canseco was 100% clean while here, not before and after - he's joking isn't he.

Dewey - Sunday, January 24 2010 @ 12:58 PM EST (#211349) #
Tommy Jones surgery in Fall 2004.

Any relation to Sad Sam, or Punkinhead?   I'm trying to place this guy.
Mike Green - Sunday, January 24 2010 @ 06:51 PM EST (#211350) #
Tommy Jones surgery I was the Cobb version.  Tommy Jones surgery II was the Men In Black version (ouch).
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