Archive for the ‘AA’s Quest for Pitchers’ Category

santanaheavens

WHY WON’T THEY JUST SIGN ME?!!???

This is normally the kind of post I wouldn’t bother with at this time of the season, but this has been no ordinary off-season, and while camps press on for some, the long cold winter lingers for others. Particularly, the remaining free agents with a compensation pick anchored around their market value’s neck. Stephen Drew remains out there, as does Ervin Santana. Both are obvious upgrades for the Jays at positions currently slated to be occupied by fucking tomato cans or should-be minor leaguers of need, and so of course the Jays appear to have no interest in signing them.

Appearances, of course, don’t really matter — and not just because evidently nobody else is willing to step up and meet prices being asked either. It’s whether they actually get the players signed that counts, but we’re long past the point of actually believing the Jays will end up doing a thing like that. Y’know… even though the difference between the two and ol’ Replacement Level Rogers and Redmond and Ryan “Isn’t” Goins “To Hit” might literally, actually, literally be on the order of five or six wins, which could absolutely be the difference between success and failure for these 2014 Jays and, ultimately, a front office and perhaps the entire project that the Jays embarked on with the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos in October of 2009.

Yes, that’s all a bit grim, but these are frustrating times, and not only for Jays fans, perhaps. Ken Rosenthal’s latest tweet suggests that Santana is considering change of agents, moving away from Bean Stringfellow of Proformance, who is, of course, also the agent or Jose Bautista. Thing is, though, Jay Alou also works for Proformance, as a managing director and Head of Latin Baseball, and … uh… he doesn’t seem to have heard the same things Rosenthal has been hearing:

Of course, what else is someone in that position going to say? Except… well… nothing. So I kind of tend to believe Alou here, even given Rosenthal is the gold standard for reporting this kind of stuff. I tend to believe the frustration in all this, though, too, and can’t help but wonder if maybe this little piece of innuendo is some form of gamesmanship, passed along to cause fissures between Santana and his agent, and maybe break their unity on what is an acceptable deal to… er… accept.

That’s just spitballin’, obviously, but it certainly does seem like the league is content to keep making him wait in hopes that Santana and his camp will crack. Jon Heyman wrote this afternoon for CBS Sports that “Santana’s agents remain in contact with the newly aggressive Orioles and at least four more teams.” That list includes the Jays, despite the fact that the GM, according to Gregor Chisholm’s excellent transcription of comments from Alex Anthopoulos today at North Of The Border, says he doesn’t “think we have anything active.”

Like Alou, though, what else is Anthopoulos going to say? Which isn’t to encourage anyone to get his or her hopes up about a last minute swoop for Santana, but… well… someone’s going to land him, right?

I dunno… maybe this is still a thing to pay attention to? Ugh.

ujlooks

There is zero excuse for the Blue Jays to not sign a free agent pitcher this winter. None. Not when their position is so advantageous when it comes to the guys with draft pick compensation. Not when cheap jack Baltimore feels a contract is worth giving up the 17th overall pick — and associated pool money — for, but the Jays won’t give up pick 49.

None.

I don’t even necessarily love the contract the Orioles will give to Ubaldo Jimenez — assuming he passes his physical — or the idea of locking him up for four years. I also don’t think it’s nearly as far fetched as many fans do that Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, and whoever else may end up filling out the rotation can be very good for this club. There is a tendency to forget just how very pedestrian relied-upon AL East pitchers like Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster, Jason Hammel, Scott Feldman, Phil Hughes, David Phelps, Jeremy Hellickson, and Roberto Hernandez have been while in the rotations of very successful teams. All of them — save Feldman (15), Norris (9), and Phelps (12) — made at least 23 AL starts last year. And all of them failed to generate one full -win of value, according to Baseball Reference.

But we all understand that a club has a better chance to make it through the grind of a season with more, better options in the rotation. We all know how vital it is for a team to accumulate quality assets, even in areas of depth, and the possibilities that opens up.

The Jays could still “line up on value” — as Alex Anthopoulos is fond of saying — with Ervin Santana, but he is now their final hope to turn the 49th pick in next year’s draft into a tremendous win-now market advantage, and teams like the Mariners are reportedly lurking. To piss the opportunity away and expect us to open wide and swallow shovel-fulls of P.R. tripe is an affront to a fan base so beaten down by years of mediocrity that the only bar they ask their club to hurdle is that they at least just fucking try.

It would be premature, and I’d be too taken by inchoate rage right now if I wagged my finger about the club coming to regret yet another hammer blow to consumer confidence, or tried to conjure a grim financial future for the club coming out of this possibility. The fans aren’t going to disappear, the TV numbers will be strong until the club fades, and if they manage to be competitive, all will be forgotten. Not much will change for the failure to land one of these truly unsexy pitching names, but that almost would make it worse. I mean, isn’t it preferable to be lovable losers who at least try than to be losers who can just kind of go fuck themselves? Soulless, corporatist, bottom-line worshipping scum of the earth, searching with no dignity for value in the narrowest possible terms?

The world is full of that kind of stuff at every turn, of course, and to keep our sanity we all try our best to work out livable compromises with the behemoth, but when it repeatedly punches our guts in one of the few places we fans turn to for escape, it’s hard not to get awfully bitter about the experience. You’re playing in the fourth largest city in North America, in an un-capped league, in a sport where TV rights deals are worth many multiple billions, and this is really all you can give us? Indifference to your product or any connection with our psyches beyond piddly, bush league marketing and game ops, and the patronizing admonishment that we should be happy you at least tried last year?

That’s a lot to put on the failure to sign one of two pitchers who each could quite reasonably be fairly crappy, but to me that’s what it would signal, and some days I have less confidence than others in any of the inept, manipulative handlers of this organization to identify, let alone care enough to reverse the rot.

Granted, for all our eye rolling about value for value’s sake, the Anthopouloses of the world are right that it’s dangerous to let such big picture considerations matter so much when it comes to roster construction, but they do matter.

Again, though, it’s too soon to say any of this. The signing of Ervin Santana could still come along and erase this potential narrative. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t — worries about payroll parameters or the Canadian dollar remain reasonable yet entirely unfounded at this stage — but if it doesn’t, I can’t help but think that the club will again show to have been blind to its own failures of messaging. Whatever downsides would come with blaming stingy ownership or a sinking dollar seem trivial, to me, compared to the disgust, disappointment, and, worse, the apathy that will come from the insistence that they needn’t do anything, and that they trust their young arms so much more than Baltimore does their own, much better prospect, Kevin Gausman.

That sort of moment, should we run headlong into it in the next week, will fade into memory like they all do, I know. Surely the club will weather it like they always do. But for fuck sakes, here we are again, like November 2012 never happened. And how many of these moments — even just these potential moments — must we endure? It’s not a whole lot of fun leaving so much emotional investment to the mercy and whims of humourless corporate shitheels, even when there’s still a chance they might do right by it. Anthopoulos, for all his good intentions, sometimes seems as powerless as we are, and with payroll supposedly so inextricably linked with the revenue the club can generate, I fear that maybe this time the diminishing returns on selling false hope will genuinely start to be felt if this is the path they choose to take.

I mean… who needs this?

UJ-ES

A tweet from earlier this afternoon out of the Dominican Republic from a man named Roosevelt Comarazamy has been circulating, suggesting precisely what the the Jays have — allegedly — offered free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.

Translated — thanks kindly to @Angelo_riot — it says “Toronto is playing to despair Ubaldo and Ervin’s agents. The Blue Jays will offer $27M for 3 years.”

First, some background: Angelo added that Comarazamy is the play-by-play man for Santo Domingo-based Dominican league club Tigres del Licey, and that he has ties with Jimenez, Santana, Jose Bautista, and Esmil Rogers. “He’s legit,” Angelo adds.

Does that mean his information necessarily is? I certainly can’t say that. But I do know that the ties between those players and Comarazamy’s club indeed do exist. Jimenez intended to play for Licey this season, as he had done in the past, but was waiting to get a big league contact signed before joining the club. Rogers played with the club this year. Bautista, a 2011 Sporting News item tells us, played his winter ball there in 2007, as did Santana. And they may have deeper ties than just what these few links I found from a cursory Google search show us.

Again, though, that alone shouldn’t be enough to lift our suspicions, nor should the fact that the $9-million average annual value of the offer sure looks a lot like the kind of thing Jon Heyman’s source, referenced in the previous post, suggested the Jays were aiming to find pitching for back at the start of the season.

Nor should — as I’ve seen elsewhere — anybody be ridiculous enough to think that, even if it were true, this is some kind of high-end final offer. Obviously, if these numbers really are on the table, it’s an attempt to get the pitchers to come down to the club’s terms, and they may well — especially if they’re actually serious about signing them — be willing to go higher still.

Who knows? But it’s amazing after rumours of Santana asking north of $100-million back in December, that this sort of seems reasonably plausible, even as a low-ball offer.

 

Crotch grab in the direction of commenter “jerb” for the link.

ubaldoblue

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t whispers out there that the Jays may, in actuality and not just in posture, be more inclined to simply go with the rotation options they’ve got and hide behind nonsense about value — as though the deals Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana sign aren’t going to be chock full of value thanks to the way that the compensation picks tied to them have depressed their markets, which, of course, was the whole point of chasing them in the first place. I’ve also heard the opposite, though, so I’m not sure what exactly to make of anything at this point.

A lot of fans urging the club to do something tend to fail to look at things from the agents’ perspective. Anthopoulos must act, they say, because surely other teams will run into injuries that will make them reconsider the asking price on still-available arms, but isn’t that exactly the reason for the agents to continue to hold firm on their number, and not settle on terms dictated by the Blue Jays? I think so, which is why I don’t count myself among those fans. But it’s hard not to let some ugly thoughts creep in about it when you see a thing like what Jon Heyman wrote this morning at CBS Sports.

One person familiar with [the Blue Jays'] thinking suggested there was at least some talk at the beginning of the winter about looking to spend $8 million to $9 million a year on a 2- or 3-year deal on one or more of the available starters. Even taking the higher numbers, say $9 million per annum for three years, that would seem to be a stretch to the low side to lure someone such as Santana or Jimenez.

That sure would seem like a stretch, though bless ‘em for trying, I guess. But how, after acknowledging openly for so long that they need a front line starter, could that have possibly been the plan at any point?

Is Heyman’s source wrong? Is Heyman’s old pal Scott Boras telling him this just to be a fly in Paul Beeston’s ointment? Did something change? Was it Guy Laurence? The Canadian dollar? Was the two-year, $20-million deal the Mets signed with Bartolo Colon too rich for the Jays’ blood???

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petepumaaj

With proximity to his Maryland home seemingly a major consideration, the Jays were probably never really a factor in the chase for A.J. Burnett. That’s good, in a way, because it means that they didn’t exactly “lose” him, as word came this afternoon — to most of us via a tweet from Ken Rosenthal (which credits Philly beat reporter Jim Salisbury, though MLBTR now says Hayden Balgavy of Arkansas’s THV 11, and apparently being a real person who exists, had it first) — that he has signed on to be part of the most expensive fourth place team in the National league, joining the Phillies on a one-year, $16-million pact.

Another one bites the dust.

And this, of course, is where we look at that awfully tasty contract and wonder how the hell the Jays couldn’t have done better, before snapping back to the reality that this reunion just wasn’t ever happening, no matter how much we want to fume about why the hell that’s so. (Or maybe you did that a couple hours ago, when the news first broke, and are over it already — SO SORRY, SOME OF US WERE HAVING LUNCH).

The market continues to play itself out pretty much exactly like we’d expect, and though Burnett isn’t quite the last half-decent starter available without a draft pick tied around his neck, he’s pretty close. Chris Capuano remains out there for some plucky club to dream on — Dave Cameron wrote about him in a positive light a couple weeks back at FanGraphs, noting that he “has a better three-year FIP/xFIP profile than Ervin Santana” and that “his three-year strikeout rate is exactly the same as R.A. Dickey‘s” — so the coming onslaught of scawwwwwy pieces about how the Jays may have waited too long and that other, now-desperate clubs may jump back into running for Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez is maybe still a little off, but… we’re getting to there.

Speaking of, I still think the worry of either of those guys being stolen away is overblown in the minds of fans. If the Jays want them, they can still get them, even if the bidding moves the dollar figure north from its lowest ebb, especially since they still have just about the least amount of draft pick value-loss to factor into the price they’re willing to go to. There is certainly a greater than zero chance that they really don’t sign one — and things like the Mariners losing Iwakuma for four to six weeks don’t exactly help — and should the Jays actually allow that happen, there will be a lot to answer for.

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santanaheavens

Can someone just SIGN ME already?!!!?!?

The words in the title of this post — which would have showed up sooner on this site had I not been out playing an embarrassingly bad round of trivia — are from Ken Rosenthal’s latest at Fox Sports. To wit:

Santana’s camp is talking with multiple teams and making progress toward a new deal for the free-agent right-hander, according to major league sources.

The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams in contact with Santana’€™s agents at Proformance Baseball, sources said.

So… there’s that. However, there’s also this:

I’ve been hearing that the Jays prefer Ubaldo Jimenez anyway, so this tidbit — should it prove to actually be true — is neither surprising nor infuriating. And it at least likely means that this all will be settled soon, whichever way it goes. Maybe not quite time yet to sharpen your pitchforks, but we’re getting there…

Monday Morning Update

According to a tweet from Jim Bowden, Baltimore isn’t the team that’s “close” to a deal with Santana, either. Which, of course, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t get close sometime soon. That goes for the Jays too.

So… there’s that.

petty

I really don’t think I have to explain that it’s been a frustrating few months for Jays fans, or how antsy everybody is getting about just what the hell is happening with the remaining pitchers on the free agent market. It’s a fact of life at this point, even if it’s one that’s maybe making us not quite as panicky as we were a few weeks ago.

The plan, it seems, is working. Buster Olney tweeted yesterday that Ervin Santana may settle for a three-year deal, and Tony Lastoria of Fox Sports Ohio wrote that Ubaldo Jimenez is now looking at three years as well. It also feels like the number of teams involved in the pitching market is no longer near as robust as it was back when Masahiro Tanaka was all that anybody could talk about.

Teams like the Dodgers, and Diamondbacks, and Orioles still seem to be in on the Bronson Arroyos of the world, but when it comes to Ervin and Ubaldo — the guys with the draft picks attached — few teams other than the Jays are being linked, and Alex Anthopoulos is said to hold a “commanding position.”

So, before that’s no longer the case, why don’t they just sign one of them??!?!!?

It’s a question many, many have been asking. One such instance came yesterday in Richard Griffin’s chat with readers at the Toronto Star — reader “Tim” wrote, “Hi Richard, is AA tempting fate by continuing to wait out the Jimenez & Santana? Granted their prices appear to have dropped significantly since the start of free agency but isn’t there a point where their price becomes too appealing for other teams to pass up? Seems to me AA is playing a dangerous game” — and Griff not only indulged the question, but said, “I agree. Do it now if you can.”

This would make sense to me if free agents were analogous to an Xbox One on Black Friday, but that’s hardly the case. Santana and Jimenez are auctioning off their services, and most plausibly, it seems like the Jays waiting for one of their preferred player’s agents to come to them and say, “OK, we’ve decided we’re going to move forward with an offer of X-dollars from team-X, will you beat it?”

If the Jays are willing to pay the most, they’ll get the player, and that won’t change whether it happens now, a week from now, or if it had taken place earlier in the off-season — the final price, though, may change, and most likely in their favour.

That’s not to say that there is no aspect of timing involved in free agent negotiations, but if a team is going to come out of the woodwork willing to pay far more for either of these free agents than they had shown all winter, that too will happen regardless of whether the process moves forward now, or a week from now.

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