UPDATE: Yeah, this happened.
OK, so I really just wanted to make a post with that deliciously punny title. But, yes, it’s true, the Jays were rumored to be in on journeyman reliever Octavio Dotel this afternoon. Then they weren’t… but they might still be… but maybe not.
You can follow all the sheganigans– a word I use occasionally for the sole purpose of reminding me that when I was about ten I convinced my friend’s older brother that this was how you pronounce it, and that he was a retard for saying “shenanigans,” and this still amuses me– at MLBTR. Or, y’know, we could lay down and I could fill you in. Heyo! Fletch joke!
Basically– and I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me two paragraphs (albeit grade one level Toronto Sun-sized ones) to get to this point– Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the Jays and Dotel were close, SI’s Jon Heyman confirmed as much on Twitter, then clarified that teams– the Rays, Pirates and the “others”– were still in on him.
So… at this point it’s kinda hard to know what to think. Or… it’s not.
The deal is reportedly for one year and in the neighborhood of $3.5-million, and… fuck, I know the Rays are hurtin’, but I have a hard time seeing Octavio spurning them for the Jays, if they offer up anything like that kind of money. Both teams will give him the opportunity to close, and maybe I’m crazy, but I just don’t see Tampa almost-falling completely off the map the way some others do. I’d be surprised if he chose closing for us over closing for them… but what do I know?
Actually, I do know (see what I just did there?) that despite people like, say, Parkes (or maybe only him) already coming out and saying they’re not really feeling this move, I don’t really see the harm. It’s not a hefty price tag for an experienced arm with a great strikeout rate, despite an atrocious walk rate, and a below average HR/9 and FIP. Uh… yeah.
But here’s the rub: as I’ve said many times, I’m not really big on the specialized closer role, but you know what I’m pretty sure is? The Elias rankings.
Now, it’s definitely possible I’ve gone a bit overboard in trying to shoehorn ideas about potential draft pick compensation into how I try to wrap my head around how the front office of Anthopoulos operates, but I can’t lie, this is another case where it might make sense. Dotel is a type-B, largely, I reckon (read: am totally guessing), because the rankings give too much weight to things like saves. Personally, I’d rather my team use their better pitchers in high-leverage situations earlier in the game, and save the clean ninth for… well… a guy like Dotel, who will probably be decent at it (he saved 22 games in 2010), and who is only under the team’s control for one year. Making a guy like him your closer gives him a decent shot at putting up numbers that will allow him to maintain his type-B status, and his relatively cheap contract means he doesn’t have to do much to build enough value to think he might get a bigger contract on the open market than through arbitration. If that’s the case, he declines your offer of arbitration next year, and boom, you just got yourself an extra draft pick.
Of course, a few things have to go right for it to happen that way– or he could even pull a Jason Frasor and wind up a type-A guy, which complicates things significantly– but it’s a nice low-risk high-reward move. Plus, you need a closer anyway. I mean, for fuck sakes, don’t let Frasor start piling up saves or he’ll never drop back down to type-B! And that’s another potential outcome– two type-B relievers who aren’t really in your plans anyway.
Again, hardly an automatic proposition, but it’s definitely doable, and since he’s cheap-ish, should be reasonably effective, and you could use an arm back there anyway, why not take a shot at it? At least, that’s how I might be able to see it if somebody were to try and argue it that way.
NOTE: As Parkes pointed out on Twitter, Dotel has been a complete shitshow against lefties in recent years, so maybe my insistence that he can be effective doesn’t quite work. Of course, the other side of it is that it makes his numbers against right-handers that much better than the overall. But yes, giving him the ball to start the ninth regardless of who is due up, like you would a proper closer, would seem to be a giant clusterfuck waiting to happen.
Still, you could find a way to make it work– and I could find a way, and John Farrell could certainly find a way… though I suspect there are some managers who would have a stroke trying to execute such a strategy (ahem!)– and his holding RHB to OPSes of .652 and .576 the last two years ain’t nothin’ neither. So I’m going to stand by my convoluted thinking on this one.