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With Jamey Carroll signing with Minnesota, Mark Ellis signing with the Dodgers, Aaron Hill returning to Arizona and the Jays looking increasingly likely to let Kelly Johnson go elsewhere and gain picks in return, the options at second base are shrinking. Some of the biggest names still left in free agency include Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Miles, Ramon Santiago and Nick Punto. With that list of less inspiring names, the suggestion has been the Jays will try to acquire a second baseman through trade with Brandon Phillips being a rumoured target. However, there may be one option at second base that we arenít discussing.

Earlier this month, after prolonged discussions with the player, the NPBís Seibu Lions announced that they would post Hiroyuki Nakajima to the major leagues. Nakajima is a 29-year-old shortstop who hit .297/.354/.433 in 2011.

To begin with his defence, Nakajima won a Gold Glove in 2008 and is reported to possess good range and a strong arm. I havenít heard any reports that his defence has slipped noticeably, but I suspect that Nakajima may have slowed a step or so as he aged. I donít think there is any suggestion he is strong enough defensively to displace Yunel Escobar or potentially Adeiny Hechavarria.

Nevertheless, this raises the question of whether the Jays could be interested in Nakajima with the idea of turning him into a second baseman. This conversion is not uncommon and Aaron Hill is just one example of a player who has made the switch and become a plus defensive second baseman. Nakajima would also receive top-notch defensive instruction from Brian Butterfield, who helped both Hill and Orlando Hudson, who came up as a second baseman, into stand-out defenders both statistically and to the naked eye. It should be noted that this move is not without risk, as Minnesotaís Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a natural shortstop, broke his leg while playing second base early in the 2011 season after failing to properly position himself to leap over the sliding runner while turning a double play. However, it seems that Nakajima may be able to make the transition relatively smoothly, especially with the lessons of Nishioka so fresh (as far as that can be said having not seen anything of him but a few highlight videos online).

Nakajimaís 2011 line of 297/.354/.433 isnít outstanding, but itís also important to note that this season the NPB introduced a new baseball that is supposed to be more similar to a regular major league baseball. On that point, Nakajimaís .433 slugging percentage was actually the sixth-highest in the Pacific League this season. Nakajima hit 16 homers and also stole 27 bases during the past season. His most notable season may have been 2009, when he led the Pacific League with 173 hits and that year Nakajima also played for Japanís World Baseball Classic championship team.

There is a chance that teams could be hesitant when bidding on Nakajima given that the Nishioka contract looks like a mistake through one season (and it shouldnít be taken as given that Nishioka wonít do much better in 2012) and Kaz Matsui, the most notable shortstop to come the majors, also failed to match expectations. However, there is no reason that Nakajima is doomed to follow the paths of Nishioka and Matsui just because they are all Japanese shortstops. He may have particular attributes, or may lack particular attributes, that make him more likely to have success in North America, but itís hard to get a read on what those may be from a little online video and a few vague reports. If trade targets are prohibitively expensive to acquire, I hope that Anthopolous keeps his eye on Nakajima as he may be available at a reasonable price and, to me, is more appealing target than anyone left in free agency. It would be a risk, but it may be worth taking a risk rather than settling for Royce Clayton Round 2.

A Possible Option at Second Base | 80 comments | Create New Account
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greenfrog - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 05:04 PM EST (#247275) #
Nakajima sounds like an interesting option. I wonder if AA scouted him when he was in Japan. Also, how hard it is for the average 30-year-old SS to transition to 2B from one season to the next? I have no idea.

AA seems to prefer biding his time until he gets the player he wants (hence Davis/Patterson in CF, Rivera/Nix in LF, and EE/Nix at 3B at the outset of last season, and A-Gon at SS in 2010 until Escobar became available). If there is a second baseman like Prado that he likes and can get at a reasonable cost, he would no doubt go for it (unless something better is out there). But I could also see him starting 2012 with a stopgap option at 2B and looking to make a deal during the season. I don't think he's going to give up an arm and a leg just to get an average second baseman. I think he wants to build that dynasty, even if it requires some more patience.
85bluejay - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 05:32 PM EST (#247277) #
Nakajima might be interesting but the track record of Japanese MI that have come over is not encouraging - Have no fear, Luis Valbuena will be here.
sam - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 05:36 PM EST (#247278) #
I really think Chone Figgins is a good option. In a situation where the Mariners pay more than 10 million of his remaining 17 million and two years of his contract and maybe take back someone like Mark Teahan, I could see the Jays exploring this. The two years shouldn't be an issue considering every middle infielder is getting two years and the dollars would be less than what other 2nd baseman are getting on the open market. I get the impression that the Mariners will do anything to get rid of him. And Figgins is not a bad player by any means, but seems to have lost it over the past two years. I still think there's something there and maybe a change of scenery would do him well. He would certainly fit well either near the top of our lineup, or at the bottom. Worst case scenario we're paying Figgins less than they would pay Teahan, but yet Figgins offers more than Teahan off the bench. I'd imagine the Jays would consult with Don Wakamatsu before any discussions though.
sam - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 05:52 PM EST (#247279) #
This could be an odd off-season for the Jays. Just reading what Jon Heyman just posted about Darvish. Still thinks he'll be posted, but doesn't know when. Apparently when Matsuzaka was posted it took 6 weeks before he signed a contract. That might mean that Darvish won't be signed until mid-January at best if Matsuzaka's timeframe is any indication. I would think the Jays would want to know as soon as possible if he's posted so they can plan accordingly. I'd imagine that if Darvish isn't posted, they'll likely explore the trade route or even make a move on an Oswalt, Wilson, or Buerhle. However, I think by mid-January a lot of these guys will be off the market. I don't know, I imagine AA and co. are probably hoping things start happening with the current crop of free agents as teams will have their options narrowed.
ogator - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 06:20 PM EST (#247280) #
  What about Kelly Johnson?  Do the Blue Jays really need two more draft picks?  It's great to have a stacked farm system but at what point does this franchise start looking at the Major League Club?  I don't think that Kelly Johnson is a sure thing star but I do think he is far and away the best Major League free agent option and I don't think this franchise is dire need of draft picks.  Heh, Paul Beeston, what about when the nucleus is in place, Rogers will make the money available to add to it?  The Blue Jays need a Major League second baseman.  That's what Kelly Johnson is.  I think hoping to make a trade some day (who knows what you will have to give up?) is a strategy with serious flaws.  It might work out and then well maybe not.  Maybe the organization has already had talks and has a plan in place but they certainly didn't phone me about it.  Convert a Japanese shortstop?  Why when you can sign a Major League second baseman and not have to fret about how he will cope with the transition across the infield not to mention across the ocean?  From what I can see, Rogers has the money to buy Kelly Johnson and they should use that money to do exactly that.  I don't want to have two draft picks that may or may not amount to something in five years.  Kelly Johnson is a pretty good bird in the hand.
Magpie - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 07:46 PM EST (#247282) #
Orlando Hudson, who came up as a second baseman

From the context, I assume this was supposed to read "third baseman." I don't know what Hudson played at Spartanburg Methodist or Darlington High - he could have been a shortstop for all I know. He actually played nothing but second base in his first pro season, and then spent the next two years (1999-2000) playing mostly third base before moving back to second base permanently in 2001.
Craig B - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 08:09 PM EST (#247283) #
At the moment, I don't see the Jays being all that yippie-ki-yay about the 2B options out there (I like Santiago, but even then I'd be leery of making a commitment). I would note that the Jays probably would gamble on a Japanese position player - their bad collective track record being, for example, not nearly as awful as the record of Cuban position players (although Hech is a different and perhaps more tractable challenge, as a much younger guy).

And no matter how I crunch the numbers, I don't see the budget being nearly full yet - on my estimates (including arbitration estimates and minimum commitments to unfilled roster spots) there's $8-10M of big league payroll unspent (based on the default "costs in line with revenues" assumption and noting that revenue has been flat).

That's not enough for a top-tier signing, but it's not chicken feed either. But a short-term signing would need to wait anyway until after the market begins to shake out after the new CBA, and probably after the new year.

Of course, given that there's been an average yearly cut of $9M to payroll since Ted Rogers died, it may be that the budget is in fact full and the corporation's target payroll is further south of last year's figure. But I am hopeful (I think for good reasons) that's not the case.
Craig B - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 08:11 PM EST (#247284) #
I should hasten to add, the Jays wouldn't "gamble" on anyone out of bloody-mindedness... it makes sense for them to gamble, and I think they seem to have got a good gambler making the decisions at the table...
Thomas - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 08:37 PM EST (#247285) #
From the context, I assume this was supposed to read "third baseman."

No, it was supposed to read second baseman. I was operating off memory, but I thought Hudson played second at Spartanburg and was drafted as one. My point was that Hudson turned into a plus defensive second baseman and given his minor league track record (the position switch) and the fact that most players who are playing second in college/the very low minors are defensively limited, that outcome was no sure thing. Hence, I would credit Butterfield with playing a role in his development - the extent of which I'm sure can be debated - and why I suspect he may be able to help a player like Nakajima make that transition more effectively than Nishioka could.

Also, if the Jays signed Nakajima, he'd have spring training to learn the position, whereas Nishioka was playing shortstop all spring.

Jdog - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 09:13 PM EST (#247286) #
I think Alex could pry away Cord Phelps from the Indians pretty easily. Im not sure about his defence but he has always hit for average and showed a little more pop than normal in the IL last year. He gets my vote.
TamRa - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 09:48 PM EST (#247287) #
I considered him but my concern was - there are enough teams that need a SS, why would he consent to play 2B?

I can't come up with a lot of obvious quality options. Trying to pry Beckham lose, while a popular option, would leave the White Sox with a similar choice of dregs to fill his spot.

One I hadn't considered before is trying to get Jason Donald from Cleveland. Kipnis is a lock at 2B, so is Cabrera at SS and Chisenhall at 3B. Donald was at one time thought to have some promise and in a small sample did well in 2011, if not him then try Cord Phelps?

How hard would it be to get him for, say, Char Jenkins or even David Cooper (he might be able to take LaPorta's job)?

Beyond that you have true stopgap types...

Maicer Izturus would be a reasonable fill-in but with Soscia in love with him, how likely is he to be reasonably priced?

Jeff Keppinger has been decent most years

FA Jerry Hairston, Jr isn't good but he's not depressingly bad

Jose Lopez is also a FA, he's sucked 2 years in a row but you might gamble a minor league deal on him.

How about crusty old Esteban German (33) - he walked 72 times against 58 K's and stole 44 bases in 53 attempts in the PCL.

Say, what's Brad Emaus doing these days? ;)

(actually, he did fine work at Colorado Springs - it's too bad you can't get any of that to translate to the majors...I'd still give them something marginal for him and give it a try if nothing better came along)
TamRa - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 09:52 PM EST (#247288) #
"What about Kelly Johnson? Do the Blue Jays really need two more draft picks? It's great to have a stacked farm system but at what point does this franchise start looking at the Major League Club?"

The CBA just made that choice for them. this is the last year you'll get comp picks for the great majority of your free agents - I'd be stunned if they passed up their last opportunity to pad the draft.

TamRa - Friday, November 25 2011 @ 09:59 PM EST (#247289) #
"I really think Chone Figgins is a good option. In a situation where the Mariners pay more than 10 million of his remaining 17 million and two years of his contract and maybe take back someone like Mark Teahan,"

Well....if they take Teahen in the deal, basically straight up, plus pays at least $5 mil each on 2012 and 2013....and if the Jays make darned sure Figgy doesn't hit 600 PA in 2013 (thus triggering a 2014 option for $9 mil...

it might be reasonable money - but what if he's done? Just cut him and eat your part? (wouldn't be much worse than cutting Teahen which seems likely)
Flex - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 12:50 AM EST (#247291) #
I'd be stunned if they passed up their last opportunity to pad the draft

At first thought I agreed wholeheartedly with this, and then I began to wonder if this might be a special case. If the Jays let Johnson go, with no one ready to replace him in the system, then presumably they're in the position of having to trade for a 2B. Anyone good is going to be costly in terms of prospects. So would the Jays be any further ahead trading good prospects for a new 2B and letting Johnson go in order to get two highish picks?

It's a bit different when what you're letting go, for the pick, is a bullpen arm, or a backup catcher, either of which can easily be found elsewhere.
Mylegacy - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 01:26 AM EST (#247292) #
"If the Jays let Johnson go,,,"

Really? We only need Kelly for this year - by next Hech will have earned - or will be given the opportunity to prove - that he's the SS of the future. At that time (and "that" time might be as early as this spring if Hech surprises) Escobar will be moved to 2nd and he and Hech will start their 5 year(ish) odyssey as our middle infielders.

Johnson, without the "lose a first draft choice" noose around his neck will UNQUESTIONABLY get a multi-year deal - most likely 3+ years. To others he's the missing link to us he's just a one year place holder. NO CHANCE he stays - zero, zip, nada.

The very last chance to get two more 1st or 2nd round picks before the new CBA - no question these are gold! Even if only to drive up AA's total pot of money so instead of signing 8 stiffs before the end of the 2nd round he can sign 3 or 4 amazing shiny diamonds for our diamond in the future.

TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 01:44 AM EST (#247293) #
"they're in the position of having to trade for a 2B. Anyone good is going to be costly in terms of prospects. So would the Jays be any further ahead trading good prospects for a new 2B and letting Johnson go in order to get two highish picks?"

The calculation is obvious - had i rather have the guy i can draft or the guy I have to deal?

Now, let's say you can trade Chad Jenkins for Jason Donald (as an example)

Consider the Jays ready and near-ready depth for the starting rotation:


vs. their read and near ready depth at 2B:


So, you can deal the 13th available guy at one position for the likely starter at another position and have a good chance at drafting a guy with a higher ceiling than the guy you dealt - what's not to like?

Or take Sierra. you need three starting outfielders and you have six guys in hand who are better than him, five n the major league roster (most likely) and you can surely draft a better player.

Cooper is another example.

Now, of course, you have to believe you can get the guy you want for Jenkins or Cooper or whomever you apply this calculation to, but I think it's a reasonable assumption that for the team you are dealing with, trading from a position of strength for a position of need, the value of proximity to the majors comes into play. that is, frankly, Jenkins is a redundancy to the Jays, and yet might be more useful to the Indians than a middle infielder burning another option in AAA.

If we were trying to deal for, say, Howie Kendricks then the calculation is much different...but then you are getting a better player than Johnson so that too is a factor.

(BTW, I really hate that chrome takes away the tool bar - i hate not highlighting the quoted passage)
TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 01:48 AM EST (#247294) #
" At that time (and "that" time might be as early as this spring if Hech surprises) Escobar will be moved to 2nd and he and Hech will start their 5 year(ish) odyssey as our middle infielders."

I don't really think it could possibly happen before mid-2012, but that's one thing I like about Donald as a target - he's an at least capable SS and can easily be slid back into the utility infield role when Hech comes along.

I could see the team needing a one year plus an options stopgap, but Hech options will be up by the spring of 2014 and he will HAVE to be on the 25 man roster that year. and I'm sure they expect it to be at least a year earlier than that.
Barring injury.

sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 10:16 AM EST (#247296) #
Mylegacy, I understand what you're saying but Johnson will command at least a two year deal on the open market. So bringing him back for only one year is really not in the cards. You're likely looking at an investment of 3/20 million.
Paul D - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 10:33 AM EST (#247298) #
The box has a lot more confidence in Hech than I do.
Mylegacy - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 11:42 AM EST (#247300) #

Speaking just for my my personal section of the box - namely me - I'm almost positive of two things - one: Escobar is getting heavier, slower and losing range by the month and two: Hech (who at this point has shown near zero ability to hit) is pretty near a Gold Glove defensive SS now.

I've seen Gold Glove SS's and they are a beautiful animal to have in the herd. After we've seen Hechy make a few "Oh my gosh" plays we'll be OK with his bat in the nine hole (or eight hole as some think your worse hitter should be). HOWEVER - deep inside the recesses of my slightly addled brain there lurks a niggly that Hech will surprise with the bat. Even a reasonably poor, but just barely playable bat, being swung by a GG SS - that's a keeper.

sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 12:24 PM EST (#247301) #
Right now, I see Hech being Alex Gonzalez 2.0. Maybe less power and a bit better defence.
electric carrot - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 12:38 PM EST (#247302) #
You mean Alex Gonzalez 3.0?
sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 12:43 PM EST (#247303) #
haha, but I think our lineup isn't strong enough at the moment to support a guy who is likely to hit sub-Mendoza at the ML level.

It's a frustrating situation because if he does hit at Las Vegas is that necessarily a good gauge of his abilities?
ogator - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 01:50 PM EST (#247304) #
 I am always amazed by how easily people can decide about players they have never seen play.  Balbino Fuenmayor comes to mind as a much praised player that no one had ever seen but as I recall when the Jays got him, he was much praised and highly rated.  Now we are giving Adeiny a gold glove before he has ever played an inning in the Major leagues.  I have read all kinds of positive things about his defence but I don't think we can give him a gold glove before he has made a single play.  I hope I'm wrong.  I hope he is Ozzie Smith come back to play but shouldn't we all watch him for five or ten games before we assume that he is better than everybody else at this position?
TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 03:11 PM EST (#247306) #
well, in my case it's this simple: there are hundreds and hundreds of people who make their living watching baseball players play and rendering a judgement. some of them are easily accessible (Kevin Goldstien, Kieth law, Marc Hulet, etc) and some work for baseball teams and their views are proprietary to an extent.

But I take it as a given that if people are paying them to make evaluations, they make better evaluations than me. I'm pretty confident Law (for instance) can watch Hech ten times while I myself watch him 100 times and Law's opinion will still be 100 times more valid than mine.

So when I say "X is a great fielder" it's because professional evaluaters have told me he is.

Obviously when you get down to Balbino or some such, that's a lot more obscure information - Law & Co. are generally not paying him any mind - but you work with what you got. I doubt any of us are going to be adamant about his glove, nor about the reasons for his underachievement at the plate.

A few of us here DO get to see one or another of our minor league teams play - it was invaluable, to me, to have one of our number explain about the backstory to the very bad infield defense in Lansing this year. While that's not a "professional evaluation" it's still a first hand evaluation and if I then conclude that Gus Pierre has defensive issues, it's still based on an eyewitness account so it's not nothing.
metafour - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 03:21 PM EST (#247307) #
Balbino Fuenmayor comes to mind as a much praised player that no one had ever seen but as I recall when the Jays got him, he was much praised and highly rated

Thats because he was a very highly paid 16 year old.  When you bust a lot of money for a 16 year old IFA; the expectations are going to be high.  Balbino Fuenmayor was also the first big IFA signing we had made in a while at that time, so people were extra excited about him.

With regards to Hechavarria's defense; there is a much more proven showcase of his ability.  "Defense" doesn't really vary from the minor leagues to the major leagues: if a kid looks like a phenomenal defender it is because he most likely is (whereas hitting ability is much harder to project over).  Hechavarria has been "seen" by everyone; the conclusion is that his defense is legit.  If you want to see a ridiculous play that very few major league shortstops can make; take a look at this:
TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 03:36 PM EST (#247308) #
I disagree, BTW, with the idea that we can't carry a guy at SS who hits like, say, Sean Rodriguez. I'd prefer he hit some better than that of course, but if everyone else - Rasumus, Lawrie, Snider, Esco, JPA etc - hit like they can reasonably be expected to, having one light bat in the lineup is not a deal-breaker.
TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 03:40 PM EST (#247309) #
"Thats because he was a very highly paid 16 year old. When you bust a lot of money for a 16 year old IFA; the expectations are going to be high. Balbino Fuenmayor was also the first big IFA signing we had made in a while at that time, so people were extra excited about him."

Plus, if you don't think it would totally rock to have a "Balbino" to root for on the Jays then you have no soul.

sweat - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 03:52 PM EST (#247311) #
At some point, before next years rule 5, the Jays will need to thin out the high number of prospects a little bit. It's great to stockpile prospects, but at some point a bunch of them need to be promoted or used to acquire the players they need.
Thomas - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 04:03 PM EST (#247312) #
Nice link, TamRa. I hadn't seen that clip before. That's a heads-up play by the second baseman, as well.
sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 04:24 PM EST (#247313) #
TamRa, that's asking a big IF. I mean barely any of those players have track records or consistent performances. Travis Snider has never proven he's anything more than a AAAA player. Brett Lawrie has less than 50 games under his belt. Colby Rasmus was hurt last year and his production has never been top-10 in his position. In fact, by a rough check of last year's roster, I would say only one player was top five offensively at their position, and maybe one more was top ten. I don't see how a lineup with so few offensive stars could carry a black-hole. Moreover, its not like we have the best pitching staff either so runs are needed.
sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 04:27 PM EST (#247314) #
Adeiny just barely hit Sean Rodriguez numbers last year in the minors. I don't see how you could think he could sustain those numbers at the ML level.
JB21 - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 04:56 PM EST (#247315) #
Colby never in the top 10 in his position?

Rasmus had the highest OPS among all center fielders in baseball in 2010, when he was 23! Other center fielders to have an OPS of .850 or better at age 23/24 recently: Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Ken Griffey Jr, Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, and Vernon Wells.
sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 05:49 PM EST (#247316) #
In that same breathe, CF's who have put up an OPS of .688 or higher at 24/25 include Corey Patterson and Ben Francisco among many others who have not panned out. Statistically, he's just as much as part of a group of duds as potential future hall of famers. In fact, there are significant flaws in Rasmus' swing not to mention character issues that would suggest he's unwilling to change those problems.
damos - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 06:09 PM EST (#247317) #
Luis Valbuena it is.  Sounds like for cash considerations. 
sam - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 06:16 PM EST (#247318) #
85bluejay with the call!
BlueJayWay - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 07:07 PM EST (#247319) #
Luis Valbuena, possible option at second base?  Hopefully not as the starter.
Gerry - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 07:22 PM EST (#247321) #
40 man roster is back up to 40, so expect some movement before the winter meetings.
Thomas - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 07:35 PM EST (#247322) #
Valbuena's hit decently for Columbus at Triple-A over parts of the past three seasons, but he has never translated that into major league success. Even in his best season, 2009, his OBP was below .300, although he did 10 homers.

Valbuena's a decent option for a backup role, but as was said above, I hope Anthopolous doesn't view him a starter. I doubt he does.
TamRa - Saturday, November 26 2011 @ 08:15 PM EST (#247323) #
"Adeiny just barely hit Sean Rodriguez numbers last year in the minors. I don't see how you could think he could sustain those numbers at the ML level."

I dunno - cause he's not here yet? Not ready yet? Because a lot of better hitting prospects struggle early?

Ask me again in 2014 or 2015.
"TamRa, that's asking a big IF"

Of course it is. That's the way the game works. We can trust the scouts and gamble that Snider works out - or we can do what the Mets did and sign this year's version of Jason Bay. Everything is a big IF. You do your diligence and hope things turn out well. You could look at 2009 and say "well, at least we can count on Adam Lind - how'd that turn out? so we look at 2011 and say "we can't count on Travis Snider" - that's just as likely to be the wrong projection - moreso in fact.

EVERY team on EVERY April 1 can say "IF x y z then we've got a solid team."

Case in point: 2011 NY Yankees - IF Colon and Garcia are competent, at least, and if Burnett hasn't gone completely off the rails, and if one of the younger guys step up, then we'll have a good rotation.

Or how about the Rays? IF all these import relievers gell into a decent 'pen, IF Dan Johnson (or maybe Kotchman) doesn't embarrass us and IF Matt Joycew finally steps up and IF Ben Zobrist wasn't a mirage and IF we can cover LF in Crawford's absence and IF Hellickson is ready...

Such is baseball.
" I would say only one player was top five offensively at their position, and maybe one more was top ten."

In the league? or in all of MLB?

In the AL-
JP was 6th in OPS among catchers
Esco is 4th among shortstops (#2 in the AL East, but #1 is Hardy)
Bautista you know about (#1 in the AL and AL East)
Thames was 5th among LF with at least 375 PA (and #1 in AL East)
To have been the 6th best 3B in 2011 would have required an OPS of .742 which I assume we all think Lawrie can and will do. At a minimum. Make it to .834 and you are in 3rd.

And Rasmus' 2010 has been mentioned already. There's plenty to work with there IMO.

But then, there seems to me to be an awful lot of pessimism (I'm sure you would call it realism) in your post and that's not how i prefer to look ahead. As I've said before, this is no fun for me if I do analysis under the rubric of: "how many things can go wrong?"

so we're probably not going to agree often.
bpoz - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 02:06 PM EST (#247330) #
Ogator, I don't think you were being pessimistic, but I am not sure. But your words were unpopular, IMO with some.

We all seem to accept that the success rate of draft choices is poor in all of baseball. That is on an "absolute scale", I don't know if that is pessimistic or if pessimism is an attitude.

I value pessimism here, because poor results seem to happen. I have a hard time being pessimistic with our players, if someone has a career year I expect a repeat or sometimes an improvement. I had high hopes for Balbino & K Escobar to name 2. I also did not see the success of Woody Williams & M Scuttoro. For JPA, I am happy about his 2011 season as an example.
It is a deep subject.
TamRa - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 03:55 PM EST (#247331) #
I don't think it's pessimistic to observe, in the abstract, that "the majority of draft picks, even high ones, fail to become productive major leaguers"

You are simply out to lunch if you think otherwise.

Yes, as a general rule, you want to see your own teams choices defy those odds but objectively you know they won't on a regular basis.

But I also look at every draft class we get and pick which "horses" I like to finish the race and which will flop. i'm often wrong, but I never assume all of them will work out.

I try to work off of the reviews I read, but sometimes it's something irrational like a guy's size, or even his name that makes me interested in him, or some unusual circumstance (for instance, I latched on to Thames because of the injury issue and the idea that because of it, no one had seen what he was really capable of, but it would been just as sensible - more so? - to have dismissed him because he was "prone to injury")

Let me waste my time with a couple of illustrations:

If I were to rank to 2011 class by which guys I liked best in terms of chance to succeed, the ones I've pinned my hopes on, it would look like this:

1. Matt Dean
2. Daniel Norris
3. Christian Lopes
4. Jake Anderson
5. Kevin Comer
6. Tom Stilson
7. Mark Biggs
8. Tom Robson
9. Chino Vega
10. Dwight Smith, Jr.
11. Kevin Pillar
12. Joe Musgrove

that does NOT mean I think Chino Vega is a better prospect than Joe Musgrove, just that I have a stronger hunch about him. But even though there's 12 names, there's no more than six of them I have a really strong feeling about and the historical pattern says no more than 3 or 4 players in the class will actually pan out.

It's like that in every draft. Even though I'll be perfectly happy if it's, say, DeSclafani who ends up being the steal.

for context, here's as near as I can approximate what I thought of the 2007 draft:

1. Justin Jackson - drooled over him, he's never going to make it
2. Kevin Ahrens - 3B of the future! Not so much.
3. Eric Eiland - I compared to Rios, out of the organization
4. Brett Cecil - worked out ok
5. JPA - better than I expected so far
6. Brad Mills - never gonna make it, at least not here
7. Mike McDade - he was a catcher in the draft
8. Cody Crowell - for no reason I can now remember.

2007 was an exceptional year for us. Three legitimate success stories and 2 or 3 more who still might amount to something (McDade, Farina, Magnuson) is an outstanding crop.

Compare it to 2006 and 2005 when only one player in each class graduated (and Snider is still not firmly rooted)

On the other hand, 2003 and 2004 produced three guys each. If you get 3 that stick and are productive in the majors, that's a good year. Four is an excellent year. More than that is almost unheard of.

Now in more recent years - in 2008 we got one (the guy I liked most for a change!) and there are 3 or 4 others (depending on whether you count Crawford) who still have some pretty good potential.

for 2009 you have two excellent prospects, a third (Jenkins) who's still in reasonable shape, and a couple of sleepers maybe, still (Gomes, Ochinko)

That's about the pattern you expect

But then you look at 2010 and things are much different -

this class is still flush with success, irrationally so. No less than seven guys are legitimate big time prospects, and another four are still guys you can be optimistic about without shame. and that doesn't count Dyson who would be also if he could stay healthy.

The stats tell us that maybe 3 or 4 of those dozen guys will pan out but it's VERY difficult to look at that crop now and believe that.

so yeah, on the one hand it's crazy optimistic to expect to get 5 or more good major leaguers out of one draft class, on the other hand, I don't know how you look at the 2010 class and resign yourself to the idea that 4 or less of those guys are going to pan out.
ogator - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 04:58 PM EST (#247333) #
 First, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, let me apologise to all and sundry for having posted unpopular words.  I don't doubt that Balbino is a cool name and I think I said at the time that he was signed and everyone was a little breathless, that even if his name had been (suddenly I realize I'm about to offend anyone with a remotely similar name) say Clarence Clankglove that before we get all short of breath, that we let the guy play a little before we go all manlove on him.  And I hope Adeiny is the second coming (now I've gone and offended all evangelicals) but spectacular plays do not a Major League shortstop make.  I want one of those boring guys who makes all of the expected plays and in a tediously consistent manner--Alan Trammell comes to mind.  I'd enjoy a little razzmatazz from time to time as much as the next guy, but first let's get a guy who turns outs into outs. I was not aiming at pessimism or skepticism.  But that "fat, ageing, lumbering" Escobar makes plays from all over the place with a magic arm and an excellent bat. I don't want a highlight reel.  I want a guy who is going to help the team win.
Magpie - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 07:16 PM EST (#247334) #
The box has a lot more confidence in Hech than I do.

You and me both. When it comes to young guys who've never played in the majors, I suddenly discover I grew up in Missouri. You know... show me.
TamRa - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 08:14 PM EST (#247335) #
and for the record, I didn't read ogator's comment as a case of pessimism really.

there's a fine distinction, sometimes invisible, between skepticism and pessimism. The former leans more to "I'm not going to expect either good or bad until i see it" and the latter leans more to "I'm sure it's worse than we think"
rtcaino - Sunday, November 27 2011 @ 10:47 PM EST (#247337) #
(Jenkins) who's still in reasonable shape,

Reasonable shape in terms of his prospect status.

Not reasonable shape with regards to his physical conditioning.
Mike Green - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 08:33 AM EST (#247339) #
At a certain point, if a shortstop is truly excellent defensively, it is worth making the move.  The Padres moved Ozzie Smith from the Northwest League directly to the majors.  That was a mistake.  He needed a year to a year and a half in the high minors to learn a little more about hitting.  Instead he learned when he arrived in St. Louis, with the help of Whitey. 

Hechevarria needs time. 
Mylegacy - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 12:26 PM EST (#247345) #
Mike - just going from my memory - I thought Ozzie didn't hit a lick until he was near - or even past - 30. I remember thinking his defense was worth it even before he learned which end of the bat to hold.
John Northey - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 01:47 PM EST (#247347) #
Actually, Ozzie wasn't as bad as many think. His first season in the majors he hit for an 82 OPS+. Then he had 3 bad years (48-71-62) before getting back to the 80's when he moved to St Louis. At 29 he reached the 90's, then a 101 in '85 (31-8 in SB-CS). For 8 of the 9 years between 1984 and 1992 (ages 29-37) he was 95+ in OPS+ which, for a super-defensive SS, is way more than enough.

A funny thing - from age 38 to 41, when he hit like he did early on but his defense wasn't as good, he was paid more than $600k per year about his maximum before.

FanGraphs has his WAR over 0 in all but one season (his 2nd last). Quite the thing to field so well that a 48 OPS+ can be carried by that defense.
Thomas - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 02:41 PM EST (#247349) #
In unrelated news, Gary Rajsich, a professional crosschecker with the Jays, has left the organization to become the Director of Amateur Scouting with the Orioles. Rajsich had worked with Dan Duquette previously in Boston.
Thomas - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 08:44 PM EST (#247353) #
Baseball America named the Vancouver Canadians as the minor league organization of the year. This is well-deserved recognition for all the hard work put in by Vancouver's staff. Bringing the Canadians aboard the Blue Jays family was a great move by the front office and this looks like a very mutually beneficial relationship.
Gerry - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 09:52 PM EST (#247354) #
That is a great tribute to the Canadians. There are approx. 180 minor league teams, maybe 150 if we exclude the complex leagues, and to be singled out as the best for a year is a great accomplishment.

It seems like it was a dream first season for the Blue Jays and Canadians.
Gerry - Monday, November 28 2011 @ 09:57 PM EST (#247355) #
And in case you haven't seen it, Yu Darvish is getting divorced and his wife's attorney would like some of those US dollars. This may cause Darvish to wait another year before coming East.
Lylemcr - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 10:23 AM EST (#247361) #

My issue is, Kelly Johnson is good, but is he that good?

If you took his career and broke it down to 162 game average, he is a 260 hitter, with 19 HR and 69 RBI. 

If you were AA, would you take the 2 compensation picks for those numbers?  I think I would and turn around and trade some of our organization depth to get that back(but not too much, since it is a short term proposition). 

Or... just give SS to Hech.  IMO, not enough value is given to the glove, especially at SS. It really has to help a pitchers confidence when you have stellar defense behind you.  If he bats 260, 5HR, etc.  I can live with that.

BTW, I love the idea of trading for Beckham.  Maybe a package containing Snider would entice Chicago. 

Lylemcr - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 10:26 AM EST (#247362) #

HEre is our left hander out of our pen

Maybe we can bundle up some players to get Thornton and Beckham.(Snider, Cooper, and a couple pitching prospects?) 

ayjackson - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 11:04 AM EST (#247366) #
might as well throw Danks into the mix as well.  The White Sox can be our one-stop shopping outlet.
Shane - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 11:59 AM EST (#247370) #

Thornton is 35 and owed 6 million per year, for 2 yr. They were paying him that as a set-up guy? Hmm.

Mike Green - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 12:05 PM EST (#247372) #
Sorry, AYJ, but the sales ended on Saturday, and prices in Chicago (and everywhere else in the US) are back up.  Thornton, Danks and Beckham will cost you $68.93 plus Ricky Romero and Yunel Escobar instead of $47.75 plus Griffin Murphy and Luis Valbuena.  He who hesitates is lost.
braden - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 12:12 PM EST (#247374) #

I'm not sure I understand the Gordon Beckham love. He's been pretty awful for two full years now.

I get that AA's the master of buying-low but I'd be very hesitant to put my 2B eggs in Beckham's basket.

Jonny German - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 12:15 PM EST (#247375) #
If you were AA, would you take the 2 compensation picks for those numbers?

Those numbers and $5.50 will get you a ticket to see "Moneyball" on a Tuesday.
whiterasta80 - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 12:34 PM EST (#247377) #

Agreed Jonny, I think Beckham may be one of those rare cases where a player never had a "buy low" moment in their career. Kevin Maas and Josh Phelps come to mind as other examples.

The best buy low 2B candidates (in my opinion) are Mike Aviles, Orlando Hudson, and if we want to aim really high Dan Uggla. I don't see 2B as the priority that others do, especially when Howie Kendrick is a potential option next winter (Kinsler too although unlikely). 

On the other hand I would go ape if we could add Joakim Soria! If he struggles early again and Broxton looks good we might be able to swing something with KC.  I'd love a big 1B/DH bat (Prince obviously, but would settle for Ortiz/Pena), would kill for another front end starter (unfortunately Wandy is looking like the only non-Darvish option) and would welcome an elite LH setup guy (Thornton is a good one).  

whiterasta80 - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 12:50 PM EST (#247379) #
Sorry I meant braden
ayjackson - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 01:16 PM EST (#247382) #

unfortunately Wandy is looking like the only non-Darvish option

Garza and Danks are available in Chicago.  They`d be better than Wandy.

Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 01:51 PM EST (#247384) #

Who would you trade?

David Cooper: has good secondary trade value.   The fact that he might not have a position next year makes it a more of a necessity.

Travis Snider: has good, but no longer top trade value.  I would move him as Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra (he of the great arm) will be in AAA.   Jake Marisnick, Marcus Knecht and Michael Crouse are pushing them hard.

Kyle Drabek: very good, but no longer top trade value.  They took away his cutter and sent him to AAA to learn how to rely on his fastball.  Somewhere along the way he forgot how to pitch.  He, also, is in danger of being bypassed.  Drew Hutchison, Nestor Molina, Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins are moving up quickly.

smcs - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 02:10 PM EST (#247386) #

Who would you trade?

Depends on the return. If each player gets the same return, then Cooper, because he is the least likely to be an elite player.

TamRa - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 03:43 PM EST (#247399) #
I could see a case for moving Drabek in the right deal, but the right deal might not be offered. (for instance, would the M's trade Ackley for him? i doubt it)

Snider? i'd be very reluctant - and definitely not because of any pressure from Gose or Sierra. If I dealt him it would be because I could really improve the team (say in a package for Votto or King Felix) and not because of who was behind him - I still think he'll be a better major leaguer than Gose and FAR better than Sierra.

Cooper? Sure. if I can get any real value for him do it. Do it now.
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 04:34 PM EST (#247404) #
Seems unlikely that the Jays are going to get much back (or fair value, anyway) for any of Snider, Cecil, Drabek or Lind. Ditto Cooper, unless some GM develops a Brett Wallace-like man-crush on him.
Beyonder - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 04:49 PM EST (#247407) #

Agreed with you entirely on your main point.  But I don't think you needed to have a man-crush on Brett Wallace deal him for Anthony Gose.   Frankly, if Houston is finished with him, I would welcome him back into the fold.  Would be happier with him as the back-up first baseman than any of the current possibilities, including Cooper.

greenfrog - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 07:32 PM EST (#247418) #
I wonder if AA is still interested in Chris Iannetta of the Rockies. He seems like a potentially useful pickup as a backup catcher and bridge to d'Arnaud, although his home/road split (869 vs 707 OPS) is horrendous.
Jonny German - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 09:49 PM EST (#247432) #
The dearly departed Jose Molina cleared a 707 OPS one season.

Yah I know, mystical defensive abilities. Just sayin'.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 29 2011 @ 11:31 PM EST (#247435) #
sam - Wednesday, November 30 2011 @ 01:30 AM EST (#247440) #
Pitchers are never bypassed.
James W - Wednesday, November 30 2011 @ 08:56 AM EST (#247444) #
All of those are logical and fair. What's your issue with it Richard S.S.?
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 30 2011 @ 10:26 AM EST (#247449) #
The decision to move up the time of the signing deadline from 12 midnight to 5 p.m. ought to be heartily applauded.  Young people have enough reason to stay up late at night without having to deal with contract details before their nighttime Ovaltine.  Next up for baseball: making the salad bar as appealing as a Big Mac (the original one).
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, November 30 2011 @ 06:27 PM EST (#247486) #

This is just one reason:

Not totally trusting the 5% number It's easier to go with 4.999%.   To not lose a first round draft pick means don't go over 5%.   With possibly 3 1st-round picks (never had this before) and 4 supplemental 1st-round picks (not happening again) the Jays might have as much as $11.0 MM (or more) alloted as their cap.  Remember rounds 11 - 40 and the $100K limit, just 3 picks in 2011 exceeded that limit by $842,000.00.

0-5%:      75% tax on overage:  To go over the slot cap and not lose a 1st-round pick means paying out a dollar less than $11.55 MM (is the adjusted cap).

5-10%:    75% tax on overage, loss of 1st round pick:  to go over the slot cap and only lose a 1st round pick means paying out a dollar less than $12.1 MM (the adjusted cap).

10-15%: 100% tax on overage, loss of 1st and 2nd round picks:  to go over the slot cap and only lose 1st and 2nd round picks means paying out a dollar less than $12.65 MM (the adjusted cap).

15% + :   100% tax on overage, loss of 1st round picks over next two drafts: this is the max penalty, whether you pay out more than $12.65 MM by a little or a lot.

This means in 2012 Alex can go after HS picks.  In 2013 and 2014, he must go after safer, signable picks.  In 2015, this 3 year cycle can start again.  My object is to losing picks, when a graduated tax would by better.

scottt - Wednesday, November 30 2011 @ 10:33 PM EST (#247503) #
I like the extra year of protection for compensation picks for non signed draftees.

Losing your first round pick for going over slot is a not a big deal if there is talent that slips through because of signability.

Whether this system works or not is depends on who gets drafted more than on who signs or not.
92-93 - Thursday, December 01 2011 @ 09:47 AM EST (#247516) #
On O-Dog, here's Joel Sherman: "#Padres have made him very available this offseason."
bpoz - Sunday, December 04 2011 @ 11:03 AM EST (#247695) #
Tyler Pastornicky may or may not be blocked a little in Atlanta. He probably is in AAA most of the year, but in July the Braves may trade him to get a part for the stretch run.

I want him back. He is having a great minor league career and will only turn 22 on Dec 13th.
Shane - Sunday, December 04 2011 @ 11:12 AM EST (#247696) #
Law and Goldstein have both said that Tyler Pastornicky will be Atlanta's starting SS.
bpoz - Sunday, December 04 2011 @ 06:44 PM EST (#247725) #
IMO Atlanta always rushes their prospects. With Uggla at 2B, that leaves a crowd in the IF.
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