Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
It's the great front-office debate of our time: who's right, the grizzled old scout or the brash young sabrmetrician? In many respects, it's the battle raging throughout the Blue Jays organization, as JP Ricciardi, Keith Law and other new-breed types clash with the scouting-friendly culture that, from all accounts, held sway over the club's decision-making process throughout the Gord Ash regime.
[More] (314 words)
Tired of your job? Looking for a career change? Then step right up to the Blue Jays' front office, because they're hiring! The GM position is filled, unfortunately, as is Assistant GM, Director of Player Development, and Consultant (Baseball Operations). But they need ushers, ticket takers, security personnel and a groundskeeper. Who knew that a groundskeeper's job included retrieving and returning balls hit into the stands at batting practice? I'd gladly be a pro bono groundskeeper for a day if I could keep 10% off the bat. And hey, Gord Ash started off in ticket sales. Though maybe that's not the best endorsement.

Yes, it's a slow news day.....
I will try to get another book review up in the next day or two. In the meantime, since we're in the silly season, what better silliness to contemplate than the Blue Jays' horribly-named "Level of Excellence"?
[More] (126 words)
Just a little "Where did they go?" update on another ex-Jay, Mike Timlin, now a proud member of the Red Sox bullpen. Apparently, the Sox are seriously considering a closer-by-committee with Timlin, Alan Embree and Bobby Howry. It's a good idea in principle -- exactly what I'd expect from Epstein and James -- but they may discover what Mike's previous employers have also found, that Timlin has the temperament to set up but not to close.
[More] (77 words)
Well, we can officially scotch the Russ-Ortiz-to-Toronto rumours: the Giants just dealt him to the Braves for another guy I rather liked: Damian Moss, plus a minor leaguer. Frankly, it seems like an odd deal for the Braves: why did Atlanta want to add an older pitcher with a higher price tag and worrisome peripherals when they already had one in Moss? In any event, there go two potential trading partners in one swell foop.

So, we'd best start cooking up some different Jose-Cruz-for-pitching rumours to keep us going. As is so often the case, this deal was foreseen by no one and came out of the blue. Rumours are great fun, but that's all they are.
For those interested in learning more about the guy acquired for Felipe Lopez, here's an interesting little article from MLB's Website. Arnold comes across as intelligent, collected and focused, three of my favourite traits in a major-league pitcher. Seems like a pretty good guy, too.
[More] (251 words)
Count on professional crank Richard Griffin to make the worst of the Blue Jays' weekend in Tennessee. After yet another tiresome diatribe about how the "young guys" (read: inexperienced computer geeks) are taking over the game, and after interviewing one of his aging wannabe-GM cronies from the Expos' front office, Griff ends with this snarly collection of thoughts:
[More] (510 words)
Hot on the heels of the Winter Meetings, The Rule 5 Draft takes place today, wherein teams can raid their competitors' systems of unprotected players and hope their competitors don't do the same to them. Last year, Toronto took advantage of the Allard Baird regime in Kansas City and swiped Corey Thurman. This year? We'll know by this afternoon what JP's talent hounds can do for an encore. On the minus side, the Blue Jays might lose at least a couple of lower-minors pitchers with impressive 2002 numbers, Matt Ford and Neomar Flores. Cross your fingers and we'll see how it all shakes out.
The Braves have traded 1B Wes Helms and RP John Foster to the Brewers for RP Ray King.

Details here.

[More] (21 words)
Cue BTO: "Takin' Care of Business." (Or the mondegreen version, "Bakin' Carrot Biscuits.")

The Toronto Sun reports the Blue Jays have signed Dave Berg to a two year deal. Whether he's the Opening Day 2B or continues in the super-sub role, the length is a reward for a job well done in 2002; financial terms have not yet been disclosed. Not as significant as Edgardo Alfonzo to the Giants or even Mike Stanton to the Mets, but we tend to look at other teams through binoculars here, and the Jays via microscope.

From the same annoying little tabloid, best viewed on-line because it gets ink on your hands, here's Bob Elliott on the Lopez deal, with "eventually" and "John-Ford Griffin" in the same sentence. Oh, and the "official" Jays site reports that Arnold is in fact the PTBNL. Does anyone else dislike navigating mlb.com?
The Blue Jays, Reds, A's and Diamondbacks have completed the first big deal of the winter meetings. Oakland got the guy they wanted -- Erubiel Durazo, who Billy Beane called his "Holy Grail" -- and Toronto will receive at least one terrific prospect, an excellent return for Felipe Lopez, who didn't fit into the Jays' plans anyway. The identity of the Oakland prospect(s) can't be officially revealed until after tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, but it's no secret. There have been several conflicting reports; ESPN first made it sound like the Jays were getting three youngsters, and it's still unclear whether it's one or two.

In BB #59 I already stated my enthusiastic endoresement of Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin, as reasonable value for Orlando Hudson, who was then rumoured to be going to Colorado. When the big Matt Williams-for-Larry Walker deal collapsed, so did that three-way plan. Give J.P. Ricciardi and Billy Beane credit for keeping this one alive, and selling it to their gullible counterparts in Arizona and Ohio.

In fact, this is better news for Toronto fans than the previous idea. The Jays still have Hudson, instead of the undisciplined (on and off the field) Lopez.
For the second time in a week, I'm surprised to find myself agreeing with Richard Griffin, who argues there is plenty of room in Cooperstown for flawed superstars, like Dimaggio, Ruth, Cobb and Pete Rose. While the Star columnist is usually way off base (blinded by jealousy?) when he "analyzes" the Blue Jays, he presents a rational case for the Hit King's reinstatement.

After 20 years in an industry that calls itself "sports and entertainment" while 100% dependent on gambling, I have some relevant experience and a couple of thousand words to say on the subject, but am not sure Batter's Box is the proper forum for Rose discussion, or if anyone cares what one old coach thinks about the topic, which polarizes otherwise reasonable people.

I laughed out loud at Jim Caple's column imagining the next Pete/Bud summit meeting. That's precisely how contrite and sincere Rose would be, and why he should never be permitted to hold a position that might affect a game. He shouldn't be a manager, coach or umpire, but he'd be a lot more interesting on Sportsnet than Faulds and Cerutti.
Monday, we'll see if Scott Wiggins or any other Blue Jays get claimed in the annual Rule 5 draft. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo explains the rule in detail, but here's the nitty-gritty:

"A player who is 18 when he's signed can spend four seasons in an organization before he has to be protected. Anyone who is 19 or older must be protected after three years. Once past that time of service, a prospect must be put on the 40-man roster if his organization wants to keep him from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
[More] (171 words)
Exactly a third of MLB clubs changed field bosses in the recent, unprecedented game of musical managers. Imagine the new guys, squaring off in 162-game prize fights…
[More] (560 words)
Chris Carpenter decided this afternoon to reject the Jays' contract offer.
[More] (119 words)