Richard Griffin didn’t post a new mail bag back on Friday, which was not wholly unsurprising, seeing as he’ll usually start doing it a bit less frequently this time of year, if memory serves. Also not wholly surprising? I didn’t actually get around to hijacking the last one he posted over at the Toronto Star, so we still have an unmolested Griff Bag to dip into this morning! Er…
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
As we see this unbelievably disappointing season grind to its close I thought I’d write and ask your opinion on my ideas for what promises to be another interesting off-season for AA.
My personal plan would be:
1. Give a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson, he’ll surely accept it. I expect a bounce-back season for him based on his career high HR:FB rate, LOB% and BABIP in 2013 that both must surely regress to career norms (they are all in the bottom 10 of all pitchers in baseball in 2013). In my opinion there’s no such thing as a bad one year deal so why not give it a shot?
2. Sign (Masahiro) Tanaka from Japan. I’ve obviously never seen him play, aside from YouTube clips, but all reports say he’ll slot in as a good number 2/3 and to get him for “just” money would be perfect for where the Jays are right now.
3. Release JPA and sign Jose Molina. Jose is no worse with the bat (both are worse than league average) but Molina makes up for his poor bat with his very good defense.
4. Re-sign Davis and pick up Lind’s option then platoon them at DH.
5. Trade for Howie Kendrick from Angels, send them Janssen and Stroman or Janssen, Cecil and a lesser prospect.
This has the obvious drawback of sending the payroll north of $160M putting them firmly in the top 5 in all of baseball but AA has to go all in at this point in my opinion.
That’s actually a pretty solid plan, Matt. I can quibble with it a little, but I think you’ve basically hit on the target areas and tried to maximize the use of your resources without giving the farm system too big of a hit. The quibbles:
1. It won’t take a deal as big as a qualifying offer to get Johnson back, and his agent has already admitted that. He’s also said that he thinks his client has unfinished business in Toronto, that he likes it here, and would like to be back if the club is willing to make a fair offer– and since he also said that they’re only interested in a one-year deal in order to build Johnson’s value back up, and since the recent operation the pitcher had on his throwing elbow sounds like it could explain what went so horribly wrong this year, I think you totally make something work. Just not at $14-million.
2. I think the way the posting system is currently setup is very favourable to the Jays– and even if rumoured changes take place before Tanaka is posted, it still severely limits the number of clubs the Jays would need to out-woo. So there is a lot to like about the possibility, even if there are worries about how many innings he’s thrown in his career and how well his stuff will translate to the Majors. But keeping Johnson and signing another pitcher sounds about right to me.
3. Molina was a little better with the bat than Arencibia, yes, but it’s not like “a little better than J.P.” is close to acceptable. And while Molina has a good defensive reputation, even the Rays only gave him about a half-year’s worth of plate appearances in each of the last two seasons, so… he’s not a starter. And he’s not the only defence-first catcher who’ll be available– and others might even be able to do more with the bat. I kinda talked myself into Dioner Navarro last week, I think. I don’t know if that’s the right move or not, but yes, the position desperately needs to be addressed.
4. Unfortunately I don’t think Davis would do this. I would guess he wants the opportunity to be more than just a fourth outfielder and platoon DH, but I agree that such versatility fits the Jays very well. Mark DeRosa has versatility too, though, and hit left-handers nicely this year, plus his option is dirt cheap. If he ends up being Lind’s lesser half, I think that’s probably OK.
5. Kendrick is 30 years old, his defensive numbers seem to be trending in the wrong direction, and he’s expensive– in terms of both money owed and the cost to acquire him in a trade. But I’m not terribly opposed to this. It’s an above average bat at a spot where the Jays’ other current option is Ryan Goins, so that’s a plus. I’d like to see them hold on to Stroman if they can, but the pieces just seem to fit with the Angels needing pitching depth and the Jays– scary as it is to contemplate dealing some of their depth away– may have no choice. I’d be OK with a little less offence and a little more youth and defence, but unfortunately I think Goins isn’t quite at the level of a “little” less offence. If the makeup of the pitching staff was such that you needed an absolute vacuum there, though, the option gets a little more palatable.
As you mention, it would take a pretty hefty commitment from ownership to get things like this done, but it sure would take the wind out of everybody’s sails if Rogers got scared off at this point. I don’t think it’s as out of the question as a lot of others might that they’ll keep pushing to be as good as they can, and will allow the club the payroll flexibility to do so, though I base that– of course– on absolutely nothing.
Is it at all possible that the Jays are denying Romero one last major-league start this season in the hopes of maintaining a glimmer of mystery and hope — in the minds of teams to which he could potentially be traded — that he can still turn things around? In other words, if they do give him another start and it’s another disaster then all hope of moving him might be lost.
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
I don’t think another start would necessarily help his value– especially one where he’s setup to fail, coming in to pitch after being out of game action for so long– but I doubt it would hurt it so much, either. Teams don’t really change their evaluations on a game-to-game basis. They saw what Romero has been for the last two years just as clearly as we did.
Honestly, I think it’s more plausible that, with so many September games against teams in the playoff hunt, or the hunt for home field advantage, it could have been about the integrity of the team they put on the field. Though, I don’t know about that, either, given some of the lineups they ended up running out there by the end.
Thanks for your wonderful blog. I appreciate your insights and opinions. It helps with being a die-hard Jays fan from 5800 miles away – in Israel.
However, I disagree with your negative response to Zak K regarding whether or not the Jays should pursue Cano. Your dismissal of this idea ignores a couple of very important facts.
Firstly, the Yankee front office’s lasting trauma from the A-Rod contract and even the Teixeira contract. They are loathe to offer anyone, even the beloved Cano, a long-term contract of the A-Rod ilk. Cashman admitted to having made a “significant” offer to Cano over the summer that was rejected. Pursuant to that, according to media reports, Cano’s new agent, Jay Z, wants to make a splash with Cano, show that he is more Boras than Boras and is likely to overreach and not settle for less than ten years. Furthermore, the Yankees are not what they used to be. The Rivera and Jeter era is over and they are no longer top contenders. Yes, the Yankees have the dough and can never be counted out but making a run for Cano is far from a waste of time.
Another fact that would be detrimental to ignore is the likely falling star of Bautista. As predicted by many, the wrist surgery did hurt Bautista’s numbers. He is not the same threat that he was before his injury. With Bautista’s numbers down, we need another solid 3-4 spot hitter and maybe move Bautista down to the 5 spot. This will be a formidable middle of the lineup and give Cano, EE and Bautista better pitches to hit and give some offensive support to a run plagued pitching staff. Being part of such a lineup must surely be enticing to Cano. With Bautista’s numbers down, Melky a very big question mark, Reyes and Lind prone to injury and a weak bottom of the lineup, the lineup doesn’t look as intimidating as it once was. This is not to downplay the dire need for starting pitching but we are bleeding out from several places — mainly, starting pitching, second base, catcher and left field. Acquiring Cano, in one fell swoop, gives us a solid infield defensively and shores up our lineup.
In the end, pursuing Cano may, as you predict, prove futile but it’s certainly worth a shot. The Jays can’t afford to ignore the opportunity to acquire someone who fills so many needs, is young, a future face of the franchise and much needed shot in the arm for the tired and disenchanted fans. In the end, should this only accomplish a higher price for the Yankees to dish — well, that isn’t such a bad thing now, is it?
E. Mayer, Israel
If the Jays had assurances that they could sign Cano without it destroying their future payroll flexibility in the way that you almost certainly think that it would have to, then I’m all for it. But how is that possible? In this one fell swoop of yours you’ve surely just blown your budget for improving the other positions you rightly think should be of concern.
Plus, some misconceptions here that need correcting. For starters, Cano is young? Later this month he’ll turn 31, while the “falling star,” Bautista, will turn 33. Considering that, maybe we should be worried that the aging curve had more to do with Bautista’s statistical decline than the wrist injury. On the other hand, in 2013 he was close to the same hitter he was last year– granted, he lost a bit of power (which, you know, may actually resurface the farther he gets away from his surgery), and made it up with a better BABIP– and the vast majority of his 2012 sample was pre-injury. More importantly, he was a four win player in 118 games this year, so let’s not get too crazy about the fading stuff, even if he’s maybe not going to be his 2010 or 2011 self anymore.
But if he is in some kind of deep injury-fuelled decline, and not something wholly more typical and palatable, the fact is, one these guys you’re saying you’re concerned about, yet the other is a young, future face of the franchise? I don’t get it.
And like, I get wanting to make things difficult for the Yankees, but you’re earmarking a lot of money for a guy’s age-37 through age-40 seasons on the back end of the deal.
Let’s not misunderstand the Yankees’ payroll concerns, either. The evil empire is not suddenly going to become a small market team. They simply want to get their payroll under the luxury tax threshold for a year, which, as the Daily News explains, “would reset the Yankees’ luxury-tax rate from 50% to 17.5%, providing substantial savings down the road.” They’re not afraid of the big contract in the abstract– in fact, the Daily News piece suggests that the club may still sign Cano, try to navigate 2014 on the cheap, then return to being the free-agent-consuming behemoth they’ve always been (Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are mentioned, for example). Doesn’t the fact, which you cite, that they offered Cano some kind of a deal this summer kinda suggest that they’re still willing to at least get close to what he wants?
As I write this, the Jays are playing a one-game “series” in Chicago, to make up a previous rain-out. They have to fly half-way across the country from Boston to play one game, then fly back again to Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Sox just finished a series in Detroit, so they have a similar situation, since they start another series in Cleveland tomorrow.
As far as the standings are concerned, neither the Jays nor the White Sox are going anywhere — one team is locked into last place in their division, the other is as good as locked into last place in theirs. My question, if you couldn’t see it coming, is simple: Why bother? Surely the gate for this one game isn’t going to be that great; if anything, the Sox will probably lose money on the game, even without the added airfare for the one-day trip back to Chicago.
Well, it’s not like gate receipts are the only revenue stream– there are TV contracts and advertising deals, which need to be honoured. Plus, there were implications in terms of the ordering of next year’s draft picks, too. I said the same thing at the time as you’re saying, because yeah, it seemed pretty pointless, but to be honest, I get it.
I had the pleasure of attending two games at Fenway last weekend (planned the trip in the spring expecting to watch the Jays clinch; oh well, all baseball is good baseball). After the Jays’ batting practice, I watched from behind their dugout Buck Martinez having a very animated discussion with Dwayne Murphy. Buck was doing all the talking and obviously giving his opinion on something. My question is how much, if any, influence does the media have with the team?
Would the team welcome suggestions or comments from the media? I suspect it makes a difference coming from well-respected former players like Buck. What are your thoughts?
Jason MacDonald, Amherst
I would think you’re right that certain respected ex-players might actually be able to get the ear of some of the players or coaches, but what they actually talk about and whether there is anything of value in it, or that gets applied on the field, we have no idea. In general, that’s not how it works. Nor should it, right?
If AA turns to the trade market for starters, what do you think would get it done? Presuming he trades from his strength (outfielders and late inning relievers) and can find a partner with a matching need, what would it take to get a number 2 or 3?
Would Gose and Delabar or Santos do it? Would he have to move Rasmus instead? What might it take (other than a miracle) to get a number 1? Stroman or Hutchison as well as the others?
The Jays almost certainly won’t be able to get a true number one. There just aren’t enough of those, and they’re stupidly valuable, which is exactly why the club paid the price they did last winter for what they hoped was one in R.A. Dickey.
I have no idea what it would take– it all depends on the player, the other team’s need, and their valuation of what the Jays have. I do think Gose has more value than a lot of people believe– more, perhaps, than Rasmus, given their divergent contract situations, depending on where the other team is at– but could you fit enough pieces around either one of them to land even a number two? I don’t know.
I’d love to see the club actually try to preserve some of their human resources and have Rogers sign some big cheques this winter, but I’m not so naive as to expect it, even after they really did right by the club this time last year. They can only throw so much good money after bad, but if there was ever a time to do it, isn’t it now?
The main pleasures for me at the end of this season have been watching the development of the younger players — Goins, Lawrie and Sierra — and listening to the very outspoken Gregg Zaun.
My question: Do other teams that own the broadcast vehicle — such as the Yankees and YES — tolerate such outspoken criticism of the team?
I honestly don’t know, but there is a slight, and perhaps important distinction between the relationship between the Jays and Rogers and ones between the Yankees and YES and the Red Sox and NESN. In those instances, the clubs essentially own the broadcasters (though the largest stake in YES was sold to NewsCorp in 2012), and in ours, one parent company owns both. I don’t know if that puts less of an onus on Sportsnet to kowtow to the desires of the club, or if they feel they need to allow heavier criticism in order to maintain journalistic credibility, but that’s, honestly, because I don’t really know enough about the nature of those other networks’ coverage to comment.
We love baseball, you more than me. There are anomalies in baseball, none of which have slipped by you. Some are even dumb/charming. No profession other than wine-tasting encourages spitting more than baseball. Why? No other sport dresses its field managers as if they are about to waddle to home plate to pinch hit. Why? Who cares, no damage.
What other sport deliberately places career-ending obstacles in the path of multi-million dollar athletes? I give you Manny Machado. His horrific injury, which might affect his whole career, took place because his quickly and forcefully moving leg collided with a speed bump called first base.
Is there a reason why these base markers could not be ¼ of an inch thick, tapering to 1/32 of an inch at the perimeter, still white, still skid-proof, still staked into the ground?
The injury to Machado, though thankfully not as bad as it originally seemed, isn’t exactly something you see a lot of, is it? This season in the Major leagues, during the regular season, there were 184,873 plate appearances. Take away all the walks (14,640), strikeouts (36,710), and times when a player was hit by a pitch (1,536), and you still have something in the neighbourhood of 131,197 full-speed trips across first base. I’m sure there were a tonne where guys didn’t run out fly balls and whatnot, but still, how many guys got hurt that way? Yeah, there was Machado, and Tim Hudson got hurt covering first base as Eric Young Jr. ran to it, and even here, earlier in the season we saw Brett Lawrie catch a cleat on second base and hurt his ankle. But it’s pretty exceedingly rare.
I suppose I could get used to it if people felt the injuries were frequent enough to change the height of bases, but such a small fraction of incidents compared to the number of opportunities for injury doesn’t really scream that it’s a major problem.
As for the manager wearing a uniform… because he actually enters the field of play? Not true of trainers, though, I guess, so…I don’t know. Like… do you want to see John Gibbons’ shrapnel-ass saunter out of the dugout wearing a tux and tails?
Actually, that might be awesome. Would we all get to start mock-whispering “Leopold!” to each other???
Love your Jays coverage.
I think interleague play was a great idea. I enjoy seeing different teams and colours and styles coming in to Toronto and on TV in June and July. BUT, interleague in September is a horrible idea.
Another Selig blunder? Interleague should not be allowed to interfere with pennant races. This is creating warped and unfair pennant races. Teams in the AL East getting to play inferior National teams and not inflicting losses on a competitor and jumping up the table. How did the Yankees get the Giants at this time of year? I think the major league baseball writers should lead on exposing this mistake. Are fans in other cities complaining about this? In T.O. it’s a non-issue I guess.
Uh… the reason MLB can’t suspend interleague play at any point in the season is because, with the Astros moving to the AL this year, there are now 15 teams in each league, meaning that there is always going to have to be a pair of interleague teams squaring off. Besides, when the games occur on the schedule doesn’t make them any more or less impactful on pennant races. A win is a win.
The real issue, in terms of the schedule’s integrity, is the overabundance of intradivisional play. The Rays had to squeak into the ALDS after a tiebreaker with Texas and a play-in game with Cleveland, but they played their most games against the titans of the AL East (and, y’know, the Jays), while the Rangers went 17-2 against the 111-loss Astros, and Cleveland had the same record against the 99-loss White Sox. Tampa played those pushovers just seven times each, and yet they were all vying for the same Wild Card spot. That is a stain on Bud Selig’s legacy, while interleague, given the money involved and the newly even leagues, needs to be accepted as simply a fact of life.