Apparently he’s back in the groove… kinda. Because once again this week we find Richard Griffin taking questions from his readers over at the Toronto Star, which means that I’m back, answering them as caustically as I possibly fucking can, pissing off the select group of fucking soft-brained “readers”– a term I use loosely because I’m not entirely sure they’re literate– who are “tired” of this “shtick” and don’t think it’s “funny,” because apparently they’ve failed to “recognize” that underneath the “recurring” “gags” there are some “interesting” “topics” being “discussed” while they’re busy “weeping” about their fragile “eyes” being “offended” by free content on the “internet” like I put a fucking “gun” to their “heads” to make them “read” it.
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Have admired your work for years. Two points. First, what are your thoughts about Travis Snider going into next year? Is he going to get 500 AB in the big leagues? Also, thought you’d either love or hate my post: http://mcantil.com/a-blockbuster-hot-stove-deal-that-makes-too-much-sense-to-ever-happen/ Keep up the great work.
Really, MC? I have to click your link to see what your post is about? And then I begrudgingly do so and it’s dated November 14th, yet about early August’s topic du jour, trading Jose Bautista for Joey Votto? Yes sirree, a blockbuster hot-stove deal that makes too much sense to ever happen… as long as you conveniently forget that Votto’s under control for only two more seasons while the Bautista’s locked up for four plus an option. Ugh.
Anywho… Snider probably won’t get 500 big league at-bats this year, and I think that’s a shame. I also think nobody wants to keep hearing me go off about what a waste it would be to give up so soon on a not-yet-24-year-old who once showed so much promise, or how absurd it is that fans of the club where Roy Halladay and Jose Bautista each went from looking like their careers were mere footnotes to blossoming into superstars can act like they’ve sufficiently deigned this youngster enough patience. So I won’t.
Love the blog and the mailbag. My question to you is in regards to Chone Figgins. I saw something online that suggested that M’s would be willing to eat a considerable amount of his salary to get rid of him. This is easy to understand considering what he represents to them (huge risk gone bad). However, if he can be used as a super-sub he seems to hold a lot of value. Do you agree that the Jays could do worse than having him back up Lawrie, our second baseman, and in the outfield. I also know that this would be a dream that many wouldn’t dare dream, but what about if we take on his entire contract, throw in Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Travis Snider, David Cooper (or even Adam Lind), and attempt to bring King Felix to Toronto? What are your thoughts?
Brian, Victoria, B.C.
Um… no, I don’t think “what he represents to them” has anything near to do with why Seattle might eat a lot of salary to move Chone Figgins as the fact that he’s been absolutely fucking terrible, and that any amount less than all of it that the M’s have to pay a guy who was worth -1.2 WAR last season would be a huge win for them. I liked Figgins early in his career, and I suppose I’d give him a look if the cost was zero, but he was so terrible last year that his value can’t possibly any lower. Seattle might as well give him a chance to build some– what have they got to lose?
As for the part of your comment pertaining to Felix Hernandez, I’m not sure why Seattle would be so desperate to offload Figgins’ salary that they’d move one of the five best pitchers in the American League for a bunch of prospects at the low end of their value. I mean, if you had Figgins, would you move him and Ricky Romero for a package like that?
As much as I still have hope– more than most– for Snider and Drabek, I sure as fuck don’t have enough faith that they’re for sure going to figure it the fuck out to want to take Seattle’s end of that proposal.
I wanted to get your take on Chone Figgins and whether he would be a good acquisition. Here’s a superior defender and switch hitter that can play 2B,SS,3B and the OF. His numbers are a little down since he went to Seattle (it seems everyone not named Suzuki does too), but he probably just needs a change of scenery. If it’s true that Seattle is willing to absorb some salary (he has $17 million with 2 years, excluding the 2012 600PA vesting option) then I’m thinking he could be a pretty good bargain since Carroll (who the Jays were apparently interested in) got $7-million over two seasons and doesn’t have near the ceiling that Figgins has. At worst he would be a Rajai Davis — a backup with great speed, but he would be much better defensively with better on-base skills, switch hitter that can play OF & IF. If they dumped Davis’ $2.75 million salary, a more versatile Figgins might not be a much more expensive option. Thoughts?
Those “better on-base skills” saw him reach in just 24.1% of his 313 plate appearances last season, which almost matched his disgustin .243 SLG– making for a cool .484 OPS. He’ll probably bounce back a bit, but to where? Up a tick to terrible from astonishingly fucking terrible? He’d make an intriguing guy to take a flier on if not for the contract.
Also, maybe the Jays were interested in Carroll, but it can’t be said enough: they’re “interested” in everybody.
With the news swirling around the baseball community that the Jays are in fact in the market for a big-name closer, does a move like this in fact state, YES we are going to compete for a playoff spot next season? Would the Jays then if they did acquire a big name closer make more substantial moves to further solidify their roster? It would seem that if a closer was signed first it would be a precursor to bigger moves during the offseason do to the fact you just don’t get a big name closer if you aren’t willing to compete in 2012 or 2013?
Scott Cochrane, Niagara on the Lake
Scott, I have no idea where this “big-name” stuff came from. Yes, they want a guy who can reliably close out games for them, but that’s a whole fuckload different than just paying for a name. Their aim, apart from minor moves to patch over roster holes, seems to be to continue adding long-term high-end talent that’s not going to burn their future payroll and roster flexibility– the exact opposite of jumping into BJ Ryan country again.
Not only that, Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos seem to be keenly aware that once they start asking Rogers for big outlays of cash– to shore up areas they’ve failed to develop players to fill– it’s a hard process to stop. Shareholders expect results on the field and at the gate, and while a big expenditure might provide just that, if it doesn’t the club will be forced to make things right the next winter, which undoubtedly means asking for more money. Things can quickly snowball the wrong way and, before you know it, you’re the Chicago Cubs and you have to start the whole process again, beginning with the shedding of those same contracts.
Sure, that’s a nightmare scenario that doesn’t have to happen if the club makes sound decisions with the company’s investments, but it’s a pitfall that can be avoided altogether by simply having a little patience. I believe Anthopoulos when he says that he sees his club on the same path as the Texas Rangers, who built through the draft and through trade, eschewing long-term free agent signings until Adrian Beltre came along last winter. And I don’t doubt that everyone involved remembers well what happened when Uncle Ted last increased payroll, which the club promptly invested into the likes of Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Frank Thomas, AJ Burnett and the Beej.
That doesn’t mean they’re not going to find ways to continue to get better or that they might not compete as soon as 2012, especially with the extra Wild Card spot in play. But if you’re talking about big free agent signings– and I think you are– I just don’t see the Jays putting the cart before the horse (except maybe on Yu Darvish). And don’t forget, they already have made some tremendous upgrades on the 2011 club, with the acquisition and promotion of Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie and Henderson Alvarez, all of whom will play full seasons instead of mere partial ones. Not a bad start already, right?
Q-Do you think the Jays have a chance at obtaining Joey Votto this offseason? He has two more years left on his deal, and the Reds need to cut payroll. They have a young 1B, Yonder Alonso who could replace Votto to some extent. The Jays have a surplus of young pitching that they could offer (Deck McGuire/Kyle Drabek) and a young controllable middle infielder (either Yunel Escobar or Adeiny Hechavarria) that would be a good package for Votto. Dealing Lind, Snider, two pitching prospects and a young catcher (Carlos Perez or AJ Jimenez) could net Felix Hernandez as well.
Jason Sinnarajah, San Francisco
Neither of those packages could land those players.
For one thing, both clubs are almost certainly looking for immediate, young, controllable help at the Major League level– and as much as I believe in a guy like Snider, who right now could seriously think he’s ready to step in and help a big league club? For another, I keep looking at the names you’ve suggested the Jays give up, and I’m still searching for Brett Lawrie, Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Gose, Drew Hutchison or Nestor Molina– I’m pretty sure other teams would be looking for those names too. Unless you’re prepared to start moving them, or guys like Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez, I don’t see where you start a conversation.
Fun experiment: find a fan of either the Reds or the Mariners and see how fucking far those suggestions get you.
I love what Jose Bautista does for the Jays and he is clearly their best hitter. That being said, AA has expressed that the Jays have money available to spend to overpay for a player or two but only when those players are the final pieces. If the Jays do not believe that they can really compete in ‘12, I think that it makes sense to trade Jose. His value will never be higher than it is right now. Even if he hits .290 this year with 35 HR, by 2013 (when they will be on the cusp of really competing) he’ll probably be around .280 25 HR. There are many people in the league who the Jays can go after that can put up those same numbers. The Jays should see if they can trade Jose for a young stud pitcher who has started to prove himself (Ivan Nova) and 2 other top prospects (Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez). I don’t think that is an unreasonable asking price for the best hitter in the league. Do you think the Jays have or will explore options that involve trading Jose? If they can get a package that includes a front-line starter do you think they should consider this? Thanks!
Josh Cymbalista, Thornhill
This question really deserves its own post– something I’ve been mulling over since Parkes similarly suggested the unthinkable a couple weeks back– but to give the Reader’s Digest version, I’ll say that there’s merit to the consideration, no doubt.
However, with the off-season only just begun, I don’t think anybody is yet in position to say that the Jays are embarking on another write-off campaign. I don’ t think they’re one of the elite teams in baseball, either, but a club that was 9 games out of what would have been the new, second Wild Card spot is going to be giving a lot fewer starts the likes of Jo-Jo Reyes and a terrible Kyle Drabek, and a lot more at-bats to Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus and someone at second base who isn’t, for all intents and purposes, a fucking corpse.
The Jays got a .596 OPS from centre field in 2011, .634 from second base, .677 from left field, none of which can get much worse. And the only reason their third basemen OPS’d .773 for the season is that Jose Bautista spent a few weeks dragging that number upwards before Brett Lawrie exploded on the scene and made it respectable. A full season with those positions better filled, plus Alvarez, a Brandon Morrow who gets the occasional ground ball, a possible mid-season rotation pick-me-up from Drabek, Drew Hutchison or Nestor Molina, and a better-managed bullpen geared toward actual efficiency, not placating guys who were promised innings when the club acquired them in an attempt to game the system for extra draft picks, could go a seriously long way.
Yes, Bautista is probably at his peak value right now, but while they still have huge strides yet to make, the club undoubtedly stands to be better. And unless he completely falls off an Adam Dunn-shaped cliff, Bautista won’t have that much less value next winter. The Jays would be far better served seeing how 2012 plays out before deciding that Jose isn’t going to be here when they truly reach contention.
There are certainly lots of rumours floating around right now – I love this time of year! What do you think about the Jays chances of landing Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado from Atlanta? Prado can play second, as well as the outfield, and Jurrjens is a young, mid-high end of the rotation guy. The Royals were asked for young outfielders but wouldn’t part with them — we have lots of them! Enjoy the free agent frenzy!!
Jon Empringham, Woodstock
With Kelly Johnson all but certain to be elsewhere next season, Prado makes an interesting option to play second base. At the plate in 2011 he had the worst season by just about every measure– including BABIP, which was 49 points lower than his career norm and maybe suggests a bounce back. Bill James’ projection (available at FanGraphs) has him with a .333 wOBA, which is better than you’d get out of Mike McCoy or most of whatever’s left on the free agent pile. Plus, Prado made just $3.1-million last year, and is under team control for two more seasons.
No, he’s not a guy to be over the moon about by any stretch, but he’s a viable option at least, even though he’s never been a plus defender at second according to UZR, and was in the positive for only the first time in 2011 by DRS. Of course, whether he’s worth going after would depend on the price.
Jurrjens, on the other hand, I’m not so impressed with. Sure, he’s similarly cheap and under control two more years, the ERA looks good, and he could eat up some innings, but there are a lot of red flags there. As Drew pointed out in a recent post for Getting Blanked, in 2011 Jurrjens struck out fewer than six hitters per nine innings, his average fastball velocity dropped 2 MPH in 2011, and he threw a higher percentage of sliders– which especially stress the arm– than ever before.
He’s cheap enough that he’d be worth giving a shot to at the right price, but I’d be wary of what I’d have to give up to get a guy whose selling points are a 2011 ERA that’s a run below his FIP, and his supposed ability to log a bunch of innings. If he’s moved, someone will overpay, and I’d rather it not be the Jays. Prado I’d take.
Is this the Jays’ year to take the AL East? Is the AL East still the premier division in MLB now that the NL has won two WS in a row? Boston has tanked, the Yankees have blown it two years in a row in the post-season and don’t show the desire to win and the Rays seem to have worn out their welcome. How long can we live in the future? Is Rogers going to sign 2-3 free agents this year to finally make the Jays a contender? What do they need? A starting pitcher, a closer and what else?
Bruce Hutchison, Winnipeg
Seriously? The Red Sox missed the playoffs by a cunt hair, the Yankees lost in the crapshoot that is the first round, and the Rays are about to add Matt Moore to an already sick rotation and get a full year out of Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings. Plus, now that winning the Wild Card is massively devalued thanks to the fact that it only gets you a ticket to a play-in game, the Jays are more than ever going to be building to be a long-term potential division winner. Overpaying to get a couple big free agents here might get them to the dance– and that simply isn’t enough.
If their core players– Adam Lind, I’m looking at you– show they can actually play in the Majors, things click and they’re in the race come next July, I have no doubt that they’ll strengthen the club on the trade market. But I’m afraid anything else, at this point, falls into the category of “unlikely.”
Q-Always love your fall/winter news and insight. With the Jays organization that seems to be moving towards a homegrown Canadian feeling, what are the chances of a Jays minor league team moving into Ottawa’s empty baseball venue?
Philip McCloskey, Orangeville
I suspect the Jays want it, Ottawa wants it, and that ultimately it will get done. Maybe not this year, but you’re right that the Jays marketing department sees a huge advantage in getting a foothold in cities across the country, and having their top prospects in Ottawa is a great way to do so (even better would be in Montreal, but I digress).
But let’s not get too wrapped up with the Maple-flavoured warm fuzzies here. All this pro-Canadiana stuff is entirely marketing and branding. The Jays haven’t suddenly become pie-eyed maple dicks like the people who wanted to throw up when Adam Loewen was released. Canadianness isn’t without its value to the club, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. Ultimately they want to win, and putting too much value in personnel with the right birth certificate is more hindrance than help. Oh, but they’ll exploit your patriotism where they can, as any smart organization would.