Few things are more Canadian than
hand-wringing about teenagers playing hockey looking to our neighbours to the south for approval and reveling in it when they give us attention. It’s an understandable cultural tick, I guess, if a bit curious — I mean, we have only about three million fewer people than California, and I’m pretty sure they’re not ever like, “holy shit! The flyover states are paying attention to us!” — but I figure it’s worth indulging from time to time, especially when the things being said are as uplifting as they were over the weekend. For the most part, at least…
“The Jays are a leading candidate to sign either Santana or Jimenez”
Those words aren’t mine– they actually come from ol’ Kenny Ken Ken, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Mind you, he doesn’t say “the leader,” but that’s still pretty terrific. So too is the heading on his section of his piece about the club; a simple, “Be patient, Jays fans.”
The club, he writes, “still figure to acquire one and possibly two starting pitchers once the logjam caused by Tanaka starts to resolve.”
Well that sure would be fucking nice, eh? And, of course, it makes all the sense in the world, despite what the Chicken Littles, and the folks convinced that because the Jays have yet to make a free agent splash of such magnitude during the Anthopoulos era they’ll never do it, will tell you. They said the same stuff last year, don’t forget, about increasing the payroll, about adding top talent, and about moving away from the prospect-focussed asset acquisition mode the front office had been in since Alex took the job.
How quickly, in a thick fog of anxiety, we forget about the talk of the $150-million payroll figure the club is still well south of, or the $14-million dollars that surely must have been earmarked for the potential of Josh Johnson coming back on a qualifying offer, or Alex Anthopoulos unequivocally stating that the rotation has to get better.
Or… OK, nothing about this off-season has exactly been quick, but money is there, need is there, and the pitchers are still there on a badly stagnant market that’s waiting on Tanaka — himself quite possibly waiting on the New York Yankees and the verdict in the A-Rod case, which could drastically impact the payroll structure of one of his biggest suitors. In other words, Rosenthal is bang on that patience remains key.
Unfortunately, at other times in the piece he’s talking about a whole other level of patience– at least when he talks about any pitcher that the Jays may be looking to add in trade. The club, he says, “remains involved in trade discussions for Samardzija and other starting pitchers,” however, “the Jays need not rush into anything. Samardzija still might be available in spring training or July. And other possibilities could arise; some team is bound to disappoint and trade off veterans, the way the White Sox did with Jake Peavy last season.”
He latter suggest that “the Jays need to weigh the current price for Samardzija against what it will take to acquire other starters in spring training or after the season begins. The longer they wait, the better they can assess their prospects as well.”
He’s entirely right, and I like the idea of actually looking beyond the current logjam, but… uh… let’s actually maybe get someone first.
Paul Hoynes On Ubaldo’s Price
Here’s a smaller item that I’d normally include at the bottom, but it’s relevant to the Rosenthal stuff, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in a recent mail bag about what it’s going to take to get Ubaldo Jimenez signed, and why it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll be back with the Clevelands next year.
Hey, Hoynsie: Where does Ubaldo Jimenez go?– Ron Koelher, Akron.
Hey, Ron: Depending on who signs Masahiro Tanaka, I think Jimenez could sign with Toronto, the Yankees or Arizona. I still think it’s a long shot that he’ll return to the Indians.
The last thing I heard, is that he wanted $17 million to $20 million per year over a four-year deal. That’s not going to happen in Cleveland.
Gee whiz! That would put the Jays a little beyond their reported budget, but I’m sure they could find a way to squeeze him in. And hey! Alex wouldn’t even have to come up with an excuse for why he brok his own policy about contract length that everybody dumbly believes is somehow significant (and conveniently forgets that he’s basically admitted that it doesn’t really even exist at all anyway).
One wonders, if Hoynes’s information is anywhere close to legit, why the Jays wouldn’t have jumped all over this already, but ever the optimist that I am, I suspect the answer is quite simple: he wants Tanaka.
I should probably do an Ubaldo-or-Santana post at some point, huh?
Mike Petriello In Praise Of Edwin
“If you think about the five most dangerous hitters in baseball (as ranked by wOBA) over the past two years, you’ll certainly come up with the top two (Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout) pretty easily,” writes Mike Petriello in a cockle-warming piece at ESPN.com (Insider only). “The No. 3 (Joey Votto) and No. 4 (Andrew McCutchen) bats probably wouldn’t be too difficult to discern either. But which player would round out the top five: Robinson Cano, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton?”
The answer, we’re informed, is Edwin Encarnacion, who Petriello declares baseball’s most unheralded player.
Uh… I can buy that.
Since the turn of the century, just five other players have done what Encarnacion accomplished in 2013, which is to hit at least 36 homers while striking out fewer than 62 times. Two of those players – Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols – rank among the best who have ever played, and two others – Todd Helton and Gary Sheffield – will have strong Hall of Fame cases to make when they become eligible. Only six qualified hitters struck out at a lower clip than Encarnacion did last year, and they were mostly Marco Scutaro types, not power hitters, with none coming within 100 points of Encarnacion’s .534 slugging percentage.
If you take that further, looking only at power hitters who know how to take a walk without piling up strikeouts, you’ll find Encarnacion’s name nearly alone at the top of the peak. Over the past two years, 28 hitters displayed an ISO of at least .200, and just five from that group walked at least 13 percent of the time; of those five, only Encarnacion and Votto walked more than they struck out. When you’re piling up free passes, not whiffing and showing immense power, you’re usually doing something right.
Holy fucking awesome. EdwinTheBest.
He goes on, and it’s awesome, but you’ll have to pay for it to see the rest.
Tony Rasmus Causes (Then Un-Causes) A Stir
Colby Rasmus has been removed from the Jays’ upcoming Winter Tour, apparently, and as happens with all things Colby, some intrepid person took to the internet to ask ol’ Tony Rasmus about it.
“When I first read he was on it I was shocked to be honest. I don’t think they told him about it till the last minute,” he explained in a tweet, noting that his impression was that Colby’s January had been booked up for a long time, adding, ”he told me this week that he was planning on heading to Dunedin the first of February to get a head start on Spring Training.”
Then things got a little interesting:
@willy9a I do know Colby’s been told to be prepared for a possible trade because AA has really been trying to improve the team via trade.
— Tony_Rasmus_IV (@FlorenceFalcon0) January 4, 2014
Cue panic! Even though, y’know, that seems like a ridiculously banal courtesy involving a possibility that we all know is there, not to mention miles away from anything like “we’re definitely going to trade you.”
Totally meaningless, in other words. But also: un-cue panic.
@BlueJaysFacts looking back over that tweet let me make one thing clear. Colby didn’t hear that info from AA.
— Tony_Rasmus_IV (@FlorenceFalcon0) January 5, 2014
— Tony_Rasmus_IV (@FlorenceFalcon0) January 5, 2014
So… yeah, still meaningless.
Nick Cafardo On The Jays
Lastly, I’m not opposed to hammering on Nick Cafardo, particularly given his penchant for saying things I like to characterize as “insane,” but I’ll refrain from that when it comes to his latest for the Boston Globe. That’s not to say there aren’t parts of what he’s written that probably warrant it, but he kicks off his Sunday post this week with a good bit of rumbling about the Jays. Much of it we’ve heard before, or insufferably lived through — the impossibly high and ultimately failed expectations of 2013, the near total lack of improvement so far this winter — but there are definitely at least a couple items worth noting.
For one, it looks like the suspicions of many were correct with regard to a deal that reportedly fell apart for the club earlier in the off-season:
Anthopoulos has tried to make things happen with trade proposals, including a recent Sergio Santos/Brett Anderson swap with the Oakland A’s, but it never materialized.
OK, so he doesn’t say that it was a failed medical that caused the deal to unravel, which technically means this could have been a different trade altogether, and Santos was almost moved in another trade for a starter (which involved Texas and a third team and fell apart because a player involved didn’t pass his physical). But… come on.
And as much as people will groan at the thought of the Jays once again pursuing damaged goods, it’s actually a damn smart move by the club — high end talent simply doesn’t come around much, especially on the cheap, damaged goods or not — and made better by the fact that they didn’t actually go through with it once the doctors got involved.
Y’know, assuming this is all the same deal… which I totally am.
In the same piece Cafardo gives us this:
In trying to rebuild, it’s tougher for the Jays because while they’re in a great city, players would rather sign with a team based in the United States, for various reasons. Many players don’t understand how good it is to play there until they actually get there and the team is strong.
Money can be a pretty compelling reason to the contrary, of course, but he’s not wrong– not about the fact that geography is a bit of a hindrance, or at least an obstacle needing to be pushed aside with bags of money, and not about the fact that once players do come here, it turns out they really quite like it. The Rasmus stuff in the previous item reminded me of that, as it definitely seems that Colby likes it here (even if his father talks about him being prepared for the realities of the business– or, y’know, if he gets shunned by his teammates for a tough slide), and we’ve heard the same exact thing about Mark Buehrle as well.
Or, at least, I’ve heard that. Can’t remember if I posted about it. I think it was Jeff Blair who first suggested it, but I honestly can’t remember, and what am I gonna do, go look it up? Point is: I think he’s right that guys like being here once they get to know it, but are initially wary. Total newsflash, eh?