Archive for the ‘The Great Shark Hunt’ Category

greatsharkhunt

One last time for this Photoshop, I guess…

Things are happening, and though the whole Samardzija and Hammel to the A’s thing didn’t exactly work out for the Jays — doubly so since the Shark will indeed debut against them on Sunday (though perhaps not: he’s at least not a lefty, and as Christina Kahrl tweets – much to the delight of those who were adamantly against the Jays paying big for Samardzija, I’m sure –  in his last six starts he’s allowed 6.5 runs-per-9, has been drubbed by the three contenders he’s faced, allowed 54 baserunners in 33 innings, all in the league without a DH!) — but hopefully this is the moment where deals start to get done.

It is, after all, in the interest of both sides to be doing things early. Alex Anthopoulos, in a recent interview on Boston’s WEEI, said that things were still in the developing stages — in fact, he said that he knew of one team at the time (two days ago) who were dead set on being sellers — and that talks probably wouldn’t start heating up until after the All-Star break, but the A’s are conceivably going to get as many as eight starts from their two new pitchers before the July 31st trade deadline, and as such the Cubs surely received a little bit extra for dealing now.

Billy Beane admits as much, as quoted in a piece from Peter Gammons:

The end game isn’t to have the best prospects, it’s to have a good team. We didn’t want to lose Russell. He may be the best young player we’ve had since I’ve been here. But if we’re going to finish first, the extra month of having Samardzija and Hammel is really important.

If that sounds damning of AA’s inaction, that’s not quite right. The Jays simply didn’t have anything like what the A’s could offer. More from the Gammons piece:

Beane was willing to trade the best prospect in the organization, Addison Russell, for reasons of skill and character, not to mention the fact that scouts who watched him in the Arizona Fall League rated him higher than Kris Bryant and Albert Almora, who will be Russell’s teammates in Chicago for many years. Watching him this spring with one of Beane’s most trusted lieutenants, I had a Derek Jeter comp laid on Russell. When Beane and Theo Epstein agreed on the deal, Beane told him, “you got Barry Larkin.”

So… yeah. It was a hefty price, and as I said last night, I’m just glad that if an AL team was going to pay it, Baltimore and New York weren’t the ones doing so. It also sets the market for pitching astronomically high. If Andrew Freidman wanted to package David Price and Ben Zobrist in a similar way, now would be a hell of a good time to do it — or… actually… yesterday may have been the best time to deal Price, given Russell was available. And no, I don’t think the Jays have the prospects to confidently outbid others on a deal like that. They might, but they might not. And they might not even have the budget to add a guy like Price going forward!

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drrosenrosen

Whoa. Some interesting news from the rock solid Twitter feed from ol’ Dr. Rosen Rosen…

Well that’s… something. Russell, a shortstop, was Keith Law’s number three overall prospect heading into the season, and number seven for Baseball Prospectus. The Jays certainly couldn’t have offered the Cubs something like that, and the idea of possibly trading for both pitchers? Shit, that’s a good one. And, I mean, as much as the Jays are currently being fucking infuriatingly stymied by the likes of Tommy Milone (and later this weekend, Brad Mills), it’s not like those guys should be immovable in Oakland’s rotation, and it’s not like they couldn’t then turn around and flip them for other pieces, if they so chose.

And for the Jays? Well, potentially a couple of arms they would have had a lot of interest in may be off the market, but likely at a price they wouldn’t or couldn’t match, which makes it tough to get too upset, really. The Jays can only do what they’re able to do, and as has been a thread in this conversation all along, there were always going to be teams with more prospect capital and the potential to push them around in any sort of auction. The A’s might be about to get a whole lot better, but at least it’s not the Orioles or Yankees. And a suitor for pitching may now be off the market, with a couple of extra arms now possibly being added to the available pool, as well.

Y’know, if this is really a thing. And it really is for both of them. Which it totally might not be.

Once we find out either way, the question becomes: what do the Jays do from here? Right now it doesn’t seem like pitching is their biggest issue anyway. With Brett Lawrie out, they desperately need a right-handed infield bat. Juan Francisco, Adam Lind, and Munenori Kawasaki all need platoon partners, and right now the only close-to-viable one on the roster is Steve Tolleson, with Erik Kratz likely soon to join him. An infielder who doesn’t need a caddy would be OK too! That’s probably priority number one, but obviously pitching isn’t going to be an issue that goes away either — the club is awfully thin behind a very untested and very potentially volatile front five. I’m not sure they were ever going to be able to get the regular infielder they need and the ace they want anyway, at least while still preserving at least some of their prospect pipeline. Despite all the chatter we’ve heard about the Jays and Cubs, a deal like this might not impact as much of what Anthopoulos was hoping to do as has been believed.

I don’t know. It doesn’t help that these guys may possibly be off the table, but it doesn’t exactly hurt to see some dominoes start to fall, either, and the market for pitching starting to be set. We may not find out that we like what it’s been set at, but at least things should be able to start to happen from there. If, y’know, there’s even a there there.

Rosenthal, though. He’s not usually off-base. We could be getting ahead of ourselves a bit here, though. Jon Heyman now tweets some words on the subject worth parsing:

So… either or? Only Russell if it’s Samardzija? Hmm…

I guess we’ll see as this develops. Or, y’know, in the morning, most likely.

Update

And the deal is done! Holy shit…

Kenny Ken Ken adds that Samardzija was scheduled to pitch tomorrow, so… fuck sakes, he could actually, theoretically, maybe even start in place of Brad Mills against the Jays on Sunday. What a world!

Keith Law has the particulars:

Jesus. Welp. Trading season is officially on, I guess.

pricepoints

David Price pointing his direction out of Tampa

Tuesday we looked specifically about the cost it will reportedly take to pry Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs, but with the trade deadline inching closer, the Great Shark Hunt is only a part of a much bigger conversation taking place. Unfortunately for the Jays, it’s not clear how big a place they’ll have in that conversation, at least when it comes to landing an elite starter. Samardzija is the name we’ve heard linked specifically to the Jays the most, yet he is probably the least desirable of any of the front line non-rental pitchers who may be moved over the course of the next five weeks.

Two better options that I mentioned previously, and who were mentioned in Jon Morosi’s piece about the Jays and Cubs, are Cole Hamels and David Price. They both have better name recognition and longer track records of excellence than Samardzija has, so naturally fans will gravitate toward any whispers linking them with the Jays. Fans, myself included, will easily insist that they’d accept the sort of deal the Cubs are reportedly demanding  if it were instead Hamels or Price.

I’m not sure that’s entirely fair to Samardzija. He’s been better than Hamels so far this year. He is having his third straight very good season. The reason his track record isn’t as long, despite his age, is rather understandable — he threw just 240 innings over three seasons as a baseball/football player at Notre Dame, then ended up spending a lot of time in the bullpen — and sometimes considered a point in his favour, since he has a relatively small number of innings on his arm for his age. The Cubs obviously value him very highly, too. Morosi tweeted last week that they’d offered him a five-year deal worth over $85-million, which he rejected.

He’s probably closer to the other two than many want to believe, I think, but yes, he’s clearly below them. Yet I think we all know why we aren’t hearing the Jays linked more closely to Hamels — if he’s even as available as we want to believe — and Price.

For Hamels, the reasons are fairly simple: money, age, and the fact that he may yet still be part of the next good Phillies team (or possibly because… uh… who the fuck knows what the hell that organization is ever thinking?). There’s also the fact that, per Cot’s, he has limited no-trade protection, which way too often includes the Jays, but let’s ignore that for a moment. He turned 30 just after Christmas, and on July 1st he’ll still be owed $15-million for the rest of this season, plus $22.5-million for the four seasons following (plus a $6-million buyout for his 2019 option). He’s a very good pitcher, and that money is actually pretty reasonable, given the going rates of front line starters, but we know what this ownership is like, and we know enough to not bother believing that they’d sign up to assume that kind of a contract until we actually fucking see it (again) — even if it means the Jays get to save some prospect value by simply taking the money off the Phillies’ hands, as Ruben Amaro tries to reshuffle the deck chairs around his other bloated contracts (*COUGH* Ryan Howard *COUGH*) and the fact that Cliff Lee is out hurt and not currently a trade candidate (though he did throw a bullpen session this week — and also is expensive as fuck: $37.5-million guaranteed after this one, and that’s for just one year and a buyout, pick up the 2016 option and it’s $52.5-million for two years).

There is too much to like about this possibility to even begin to think it’s remotely realistic, frankly. But hey, at least Hamels doesn’t play in the same division as the Jays. David Price does, and he is the more likely of the two to be moved, has none of the same no-trade protections, is a better pitcher, and used to the AL East (for whatever that’s worth), and is still an arbitration eligible player, meaning his contract pays much, much less — and though you very likely lose him after his age-29 season (to the Dodgers, obvs),  you get a pick back in the 2016 draft for your troubles. There’s plenty to like about that situation, clearly (apart from the astronomical cost it will take to get him), but there’s a problem: for the Jays to get him they and the Rays would need to make a rare intra-division trade.

Or… is this a problem? Hmmm…

Hey, and that sounds even better, given the not-quite-so-glowing, painfully realistic report on Sanchez that came from Baseball Prospectus today! “Easy to see very high ceiling given tools but difficult to see the package coming together,” says the report based on two games before Aaron’s promotion to Buffalo. “Reminds me a lot of A.J. Burnett in many ways; will look brilliant at times and lost at others; mid-rotation starter who will have streaks where he can shows more than that.”

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greatsharkhunt

Jon Morosi dives into the Great Shark Hunt in a piece this afternoon at Fox Sports, groping around for answers as to who should blink first when it comes to the Jays’ and Cubs’ staredown over Jeff Samardzija. Much of it simply looks at where both the Jays and Samardzija are currently at, but there is one clear money quote:

The Cubs have evaluated the Jays’ farm system, and there are strong indications they would trade Samardzija to Toronto if the Jays offered Triple-A right-hander Aaron Sanchez, Double-A left-hander Daniel Norris, and Class-A center fielder Dalton Pompey.

The problem: The Jays maintain they won’t include Sanchez, Norris and Pompey in the same offer for Samardzija — or any other available player, including Tampa Bay ace David Price.

The Jays may be willing to trade one or two players from that group. But not all three. At least, not yet.

I get the sense that I maybe like and want Samardzija a little more than a lot of fans, but I’m with the Jays on not wanting to make that deal. At least certainly not yet.

Steep as it is, I’m not entirely sure I’m with them on not being willing to make that offer for David Price, though. Or Cole Hamels — who Morosi also says is on the club’s radar at the moment. I know Sanchez is a big fuckin’ deal, but for two seasons with this lineup with one of those guys as your number one? I can live with that. And maybe this is way convoluted thinking of me — especially given the nonlinear path a tonne of baseball prospects take — but Norris and Pompey sort of feel like found money.

Very strong prospects, yes, and Norris has the pre-draft pedigree and the fact that he’s getting top 100 list buzz of late — Keith Law noted him as one of several movers up his board (though he didn’t necessarily confirm his place in the top 100), while Jon Sickels wrote yesterday that Norris would be “somewhere” in his upcoming top 150 list — but his first year as a pro was pretty disastrous in terms of both command and mechanics. Is he “fixed” now? The results and the promotion to Double-A make it look like that could very well be the case, and I’m certainly not trying to suggest I think he’ll wither back into nothing at some point down the line, but for most of the two full years after he was drafted we’d kind of gotten used to the idea that Dan Norris was a good idea that didn’t seem like it was going to work out.

Should that make it easier to consider parting with him now that the results as a pro have started to match the excitement we had for him as an amateur — a guy who was considered a tough sign when drafted, and a consolation prize/fallback option when first-rounder Tyler Beede didn’t sign? Probably not. But, at least for me, it kind of does. Maybe? Almost? Especially since you worry that he could be the type of guy who might constantly have to battle to repeat his mechanics.

I have absolutely no idea if that’s actually a real concern, but there were certainly reports of the Jays’ trepidation over Ubaldo Jimenez this winter for that very reason, which might make the Jays a little more inclined to move him.

More importantly, I think you can kinda feel pretty good about what might be coming through the pipeline behind Norris by the start of 2016, when spots in a rotation based around the acquired frontline starter, Dickey-Buehrle-Stroman-Hutchison start to open up.

And Pompey? The Maple Cock Cheese Brigade sure is pulling for him, but so should all Jays fans, probably, as he’s been tearing up the High-A Florida State League this year, hitting for average, a little bit of power, taking walks, stealing bases, and playing centre field. It’s impressive stuff, and he really gives you some numbers to dream on, but… the 16th-rounder from 2010 is still a long way from the Majors, and very possibly at the absolute zenith of his value.

Moving him requires a similar kind of calculation to the one the Jays made last year, dealing away guys like Syndergaard and d’Arnaud. Obviously Pompey isn’t considered on their level in terms of prospect status, but he’s an interesting player — he and Norris were just today named to the roster for the All-Star Futures Game — but one who doesn’t fit the Jays’ current timeline very well. He may well be able to help a club in the outfield two or three seasons down the line, but he’s not going to replace potentially departing free agents Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus for 2015. His contributions at the big league level, if he ever even makes any, won’t be until after the Jays have found some kind of solution to go forward with.

In other words, unless they think he’s destined to be a legitimate star (or… OK, maybe even just an above average big leaguer), Pompey is a guy who serves the Jays very well right now as a trade piece. Add him to an offer of one of Sanchez or Norris and I think you have a lot of value going in the other direction, yet a palatable amount to surrender. All three, though? That’s a very tough sell unless you’re talking about a serious, serious get, and I’m just not sure Samardzija is that. (Are Hamels and Price? Yeah, probably). I continue to also not be so sure that there aren’t a number of other teams that could beat such an offer anyway — or at least that have enough prospect depth to not being as worried over it as the Jays ought to be over the blow that such a deal would… uh… deal to their system.

Whatever the case, that’s the state of the stalemate. Supposedly.

Hey, at least Stroman is clearly off the table now, right?

greatsharkhunt

As I noted in last night’s Daily Duce, Jon Morosi was reporting, or at the very least tweeting, yesterday that the Chicago Cubs aren’t only willing to listen on offers for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel — the two pitchers most often linked to trade rumours so far this season — but on starters Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta as well. Chicagoland’s chief rumour monger, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Sun Times might not be hearing some of the same things — he doesn’t say so, at least — but if Jackson and Arrieta’s availability were true, it would make sense, since, while it seems clear that the non-contending Cubs will move some kind of pitching this summer, Wittenmeyer reports that extension talks are being resumed between the club and Samardzija, their ace-that-sour-Toronto-fans-don’t-want-to-believe-is-an-ace.

The longer Samardzija has pitched into what is fast becoming his best season, the more he’s looking like the frontline pitcher many expected him to be, and the more outcry that has risen from an already grumbling fan base waiting for this rebuilding process to take traction.

Cubs officials wouldn’t comment on the subject Monday.

But the offer is believed to be for the same five years previously discussed by the parties, but at a higher number than the $60-million to $65-million range last on the table.

I’m not so sure that the fact that the fans are grumbling would be such a motivating factor for the smart and experienced front office that the Cubs employ, but if they can get him for the right dollar amount, there is obviously a lot to like in Samardzija, no matter how many Jays fans want to pretend he’s not quite as good as advertised. Granted, I’m not sure he’s the guy his 2.95 ERA (or his 2.95 FIP, or his 3.27 xFIP) makes him look, but I think a lot of the negatives about him can be misleading.

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sharkhelmet

Hardly earth-shattering news here, but Bob Elliott has some interesting details on the trade front in his post from this morning at the Toronto Sun, dredging up the usual suspects when it comes to target — Jeff Samardzija, David Price — but offering some new names with respect to what could end up going the other way.

Lefty Daniel Norris made his 13th start for the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays on Thursday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium before 809 fans and watchful eyes. Chaim Bloom, Tampa Bay’s director of baseball operations, and two Rays scouts were there, as were Cubs vice-president Tim Wilken, along with Blue Jays assistant general manager Andrew Tinnish, special assignment scout Russ Bove and pro cross-checker Dean Decillis.

He then adds a maple-y note that Dalton Pompey — who is 21, not 23 as the report states — could be a target, before giving us a litany of names of prospects the Jays have in Dunedin, along with some stats from 1985 to illustrate their supposed worth. I’m not so sure that the Taylor Coles or Matt Boyds or K.C. Hobsons of the world are really going to intrigue other clubs so much, but they’re going to need something to offer, as he also tells us that “the Cubs are preparing to move Samardzija” — who the Jays had senior advisor Mel Didier and Decillis watch pitch in Miami earlier in the month —  ”and the asking price, according to those in the know, is four players in return.”

If true, that maybe gives us hope that the Cubs are less concerned about adding big-league ready talent — as we were to believe they had been, provided the rumours about their asking for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, and/or possibly Drew Hutchison were valid — and looking for a package that plays better into the Jays’ hands. But I still just don’t know.

To take a very cursory look at it, the Royals (7), Rockies (8), and Orioles (10) all have top ten farm systems according to Keith Law’s rankings at ESPN.com prior to the season, while the Jays ranked 24th (which, granted, was lower than other organizations — Baseball Prospectus had the Jays 13th, though still behind all three). All of those teams are very much in it, and will likely be looking for pitching at the deadline. Minnesota, who are still surprisingly in it themselves, have an even higher-ranked system, as do the Boston Red Sox, who I certainly wouldn’t count out at this point, as tempting as it may be for us to do so.

Granted, the performances players have put in so far in 2014 will have changed the rankings a bit. Obviously what Norris has been doing hasn’t gone unnoticed. But still, he wasn’t even in the pre-season top 100 for Law or for BP, while a team like the Orioles had four pitchers among Law’s top 45. Add in the fact that Marcus Stroman is too important to the big league club right now to be part of a trade, and — as I’ve mentioned a number of times already, I know — it just seems difficult to believe the Jays will be able to cobble together the sort of package that will get them the kind of pitcher we’re ham-fistedly — “Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine both won over 300 games. Both had losing records on good teams in October,” a scout ominously and pointlessly reminds Elliott – told the Jays need.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Over the winter it appeared as though the Tigers got so enamored with certain Nationals prospects — or perhaps with the idea of not trading within the American League — that they overlooked a lot of other teams who’d have made a much stronger offer for Doug Fister than the one they eventually accepted. There are no absolutes here. But I still think they’re going to have to get awfully creative, or to simply settle for less. Elliott pushes that line of thinking a bit, too, giving Jason Hammel a mention at the end of his piece as well. Sadly, that’s probably more like it.

Still in first place, though!