Another week, another Griff Bag! Aka Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag from over at the Toronto Star! On time and everything!
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, unless it’s about fucking Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
I have my doubts on whether Brandon Morrow can ever be healthy for a full season as a starter. However, we only have to look to Dustin McGowan to see how well his body holds up coming out of the bullpen. My question is, with Morrow’s stuff, is he the Jays’ closer of the future?
Richmond Hill, ON
Morrow wants to start — and why shouldn’t he? He stands to make a whole lot more money in his career if he’s a starter than if he’s a reliever, and there’s probably going to be a team that will give him an opportunity — something the Jays, seemingly with too many starters for too few spots as it is, given the fact that Dan Norris and Aaron Sanchez ought to both join the rotation in 2015, can’t. Their only way to keep him, it therefore seems, would be to pick up his $10-million club option.
It will cost them $1-million if they don’t pick it up, but still, adding $9-millions to the payroll just for sixty-odd innings? Good as we may think Morrow is, there are very, very few pitchers you’d contemplate paying so much for so little. Add in his injury history. Add in the fact that everyone expects the team will be limited in its ability to add to payroll. And add in the fact that they’ll be searching for multiple bullpen pieces, given the questionable status of Steve Delabar, the loss of Neil Wagner and Sergio Santos, the potential departure of Casey Janssen, and potentially even the loss of Dustin McGowan — who, if we’re being honest, probably hasn’t been good enough to justify picking up his own $4-million option — and spending all that money on Morrow alone looks, frankly, crazy as fuck.
If this was a team with more budget room or looking for one last bullpen piece it might be a worthwhile gamble — Morrow still has a whole lot of talent, to be sure — but it isn’t. That money can be better spent elsewhere.
As much as you do say that the Jays have the money to sign Melky Cabrera (and I do want him to stay in Toronto), and I was a big backer of the man coming here, I do not see that happening.
Reason 1: Weak outfield free agent market. You yourself have said that other outfielders include (Nelson) Cruz, (Torii) Hunter & (Alex) Rios. Cruz has done very well in Baltimore and with what they have built there it would be strange for him to leave as he is having massive success there. Hunter though is going to be 40 during the next season, and while he has played well his .275 average is good but his on base percentage is lower than Cruz and with age creeping in who knows how he will hold up, and as such Melky is ten years younger. Rios has cooled down a little but is hitting a very respectable .280 and has been durable, doesn’t have the power Melky has which isn’t terrible considering you aren’t looking for power from the 2-hole, but would he want to actually come back to the city that chased him away? I don’t think so.
Reason 2: Winning. This team in the two years Melky has been here has not been a winner and it seems like the management group does not know how to construct a team as you have a top 4 of very good to excellent hitters, but after that you lack much in the lineup as proven all year. 163 home runs, but 87 of them have come from EE, Bats, Reyes & Melky. This would mean you would need an overhaul of the bottom 5 (except Navarro, but a better backup catcher would be needed).
Reason 3: Pre-existing Financial Commitments. The Jays have already tied up $94MM in guaranteed money in just 8 players for next year and 1 of those players is Rickey Romero, so you have just 7 roster players out of 26 signed. Considering the team payroll this year is $137MM and between the two years Rogers has spent $250MM for no playoff spots you can’t assume they will increase payroll.
Reason 4: Poor Drafting Record. The Jays while having some of the best young talented arms in all of baseball have at the opposite end of the spectrum failed miserably at drafting position players. Currently the only position players that were in the minors on August 31 who would be considered real prospects were Dalton Pompey, Anthony Gose, A.J. Jimenez. Gose & Jimenez are both 24 and it is time for them to prove that they are major league players or if they are going to be just backups/bench players in baseball. Last year was Yan Gomes breakout year into a starting role and he was 25, if you aren’t a major league every day player by 25, chances are you won’t be (Yan Gomes WAR is 4.1, better than all Jays but JBats). After those 3 players there isn’t anyone below 25 in AAA or AA and that is a failure of Alex A to draft position players and as such when we have an injury you have NOTHING to replace it with. How come people complain the Leafs don’t build through the draft but the Jays are allowed to get away with it.
As such these are 4 excellent reasons why Melky would not necessarily sign back with us as he is valuable to many other teams in baseball, especially ones who have a chance to win soon which he would be more interested in doing as the way this team has been put together shows that it is not a winner.
I’ll actually answer this, but first a disclaimer: this is a serious fucking load of garbage clown idiocy. To wit:
1) Why are you talking about the weak market as a reason why the Jays won’t re-sign Melky and then seemingly discussing why the Jays may or may not be interested in certain guys? This was one of your two not completely shitty points, and you totally blew it. The fact is, the dearth of other good free agent outfielders is definitely working against the Jays. Plenty of teams will have strong interest in a guy like Melky, though that will be mitigated by his P.E.D. suspension in 2012, and by the fact that the Jays will make him a qualifying offer, meaning the team that signs him will be forced to give up their highest unprotected draft pick to do so. How that has anything to do with crying about Alex Rios not wanting to come back is beyond me.
2) This is utter stupidity and not at all a factor.
3) Most people are assuming that the Jays will be in the $140-million range again, which — after the expected free agent losses and arbitration raises — gives them something close to the $15-million it’s hoped it will take to re-sign Cabrera. Moving Mark Buehrle and getting a team to take on a whole bunch of his salary would add even more to the potential payroll for the club — assuming Rogers allows them to keep the savings — but yes, this is a major factor why he may not return. Coupled with number one, it’s the biggest factor.
4) More stupidity. Yes, the Jays do not have a wealth of position prospects knocking at the door — though Gose, Pillar, and Pompey are certainly not nothing — but before you call that a failure, maybe try understanding in the slightest what the fuck you’re talking about. The reality is, that was by design. Anthopoulos long ago made the decision that it was more important for him to acquire pitching than hitting, under the belief that it is easier to acquire hitters by other means. Quibble with that notion if you want, but don’t be an asshole and scream “poor draft record.” Alex’s first draft as GM was in 2010, and it was at that point that the Jays truly started focussing in on high school players, and pitchers in particular. What you see among the big talents in the Jays’ minor league system, therefore, is exactly what you’d expect: a lot of young players, most of them pitchers. But even if he had been drafting more position players, consider this: a high school draftee from 2010 is now around just 22 years old. Aaron Sanchez is one of them, and he’s just now reaching the big leagues, and one of the youngest pitchers in the majors. To repeat: a prototypical guy from A.A.’s first draft is now an exceptionally young big leaguer. Hey, but let’s whine about where all the other, younger draftees, from even more recent drafts are — because that’s not dumb. Hey, and while we’re at it let’s be garbage clowns and whine about Yan Gomes, too.
And this has what to do with Cabrera coming back? Besides jack shit all, I mean.
That all said, there is definitely a very big chance that the Jays won’t be able to resign Cabrera, and it’s entirely related to money and the market for him. It’s not clear how that will develop. The Jays are surely hoping that the P.E.D. thing and the qualifying offer suppress the market enough that they can make a competitive offer given their budget limitations. But on the pessimistic side, a guy like Shin-Soo Choo, who last winter signed a seven-year, $130-million deal with Texas, is an interesting, if imperfect comp.
Choo declined the qualifying offer given to him by the Reds, so the Rangers gave up a high pick to get him, in addition to the massive contract. He was also a year older last winter than Cabrera is now, and similarly is a poor defensive outfielder, but a terrific bat, even while being a liability against left-handed pitching. There are general similarities between the two players, and so that is the contract Cabrera’s agent is surely looking at as his best case scenario, and one that I don’t think the Jays would come close to matching — and I don’t think anyone would blame them if they didn’t.
There are definitely differences between the two players that suggest it’s fanciful for Cabrera’s agent to be dreaming on a similar deal, though too. Choo had avoided the DL for the two seasons heading into his free agency; he certainly seems to have a body type that screams longevity more than Cabrera’s does *COUGH*; Melky has two significantly below replacement level seasons in the last five years on his resume, one because of a spinal tumour, one in his pre-P.E.D. season in Atlanta where he was reportedly badly out of shape; Choo had always shown an above average ability to get on base, but in his walk year he produced an elite walk rate of over 15%, leading to a .423 on-base (Melky’s walk year OBP is just .351); while the defensive metrics like neither player, the Reds thought Choo was good enough to play centrefield regularly in 2013, which might reflect better on him in the field (even though it was crazy); Choo’s career ISO (.171) is 42 points higher than Cabrera’s (.129); and Choo has been a significantly better player by both versions of WAR.
To expand on that last point, over their five season heading into free agency Choo nearly doubled Cabrera’s rWAR total (20.7 to 11.5). Make if four years — taking away a very good season from Choo and a bad one from Cabrera — and Choo still has the advantage by over three wins (15.2 to 11.9). Fangraphs’ version of the metric tells a similar story: Cabrera has produced 8.5 wins over five seasons, and (removing his awful 2010 in Atlanta) 10 wins over the last four; for Choo, as he headed into free agency, it was 19.6 and 14.8. Change the endpoints and the story stays about the same.
So… add all that to the fact that Melky has the P.E.D. issue looming over him, and that Choo’s contract already looks like a pretty big mistake from Jon Daniels , and I don’t see a team getting anywhere near that level with Cabrera, even if the market for outfielders is weak. Only time will tell, though. And the bigger point is that those market-based things are the sorts of factors that will determine whether the Jays will be able to bring him back, not whatever litany of whiny irrelevant nonsense some garbage clown wants to try to shoehorn into a half-assed argument about why he’d be unwilling to do so.
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