In case you missed it, yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays traded the recently acquired Mike Napoli to the Texas Rangers for right handed reliever Frank Francisco.

Transactions in sports can sometimes be confusing because in most cases the person making the deal knows something that you don’t, but usually, after a day or so, the trade, signing, promotion or demotion becomes a bit more understandable when you’ve had time to digest the potential options.

It’s been roughly twenty hours since Mike Napoli was traded for Frank Francisco, and despite well written explanations, I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Imagining that Napoli was extraneous to this team next season means two things: 1) You’re overestimating J.P. Arencibia who hasn’t even gotten a Major League hit off of a left handed pitcher, and 2)  You’re overrating Edwin Encarnacion, who has played all of nine innings at first base . . . in 2006, and still remains an inferior option against left handed pitching in comparison to Napoli.

Suggesting that Francisco fills some sort of a hole in the bullpen completely dismisses Jason Frasor, and forgets that the Blue Jays already have Shawn Camp, Octavio Dotel, Casey Janssen, Jon Rauch, Josh Roenicke and Carlos Villanueva.

If you think that the Francisco addition is merely for the draft picks he’ll bring when he signs elsewhere after this season, you’re forgetting that he and Frasor were the only two Type As in baseball to accept their teams offers of arbitration.  What’s going to change after this season?  Even not including Francisco’s 2009 stats in the Elias criteria, he still did enough in 2010 that a career average season in 2011 should be enough to ensure Type A again.  And even that assumes that there are no changes to the free agent ranking system in the next CBA.

Believing that Francisco is being brought in for his value as a trade asset in July ignores the fact that for every Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade that happens there are several available relievers who don’t get moved at all, or who get traded for far less promising prospects.

Shortly following the trade, there was some Twitter talk comparing the Blue Jays to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Try imagining the Jays adopting the Rays strategies, but with the wealthiest owner in baseball and the fourth largest market in the league.  Toronto would be just like the Rays, but able to keep Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano.

On the surface, Francisco’s acquisition may look like something that the Tampa Bay Rays would do, but they’re the type of team that acquires a Type B in Chad Qualls at the deadline for next to nothing, not a potential Type A who has accepted arbitration in the past and could end up costing the team close to $5 million this season for a player that could’ve contributed at multiple positions.

Of course, there could be another shoe to drop, and I hope there is, but if not, I feel as though Toronto lost value on this trade, and it’s not clear to me, anyway, what motivated such a loss with such a quick turnaround on Napoli.

Quote Of The Day

New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner:

We just have to [Getting Blanked]ing win.

And The Rest

There was a little bit of unreported cash being sent Anaheim’s way in the Vernon Wells trade, but it’s only $5 million.

The Angels still have an absurdly expensive outfield.

Remember the name Yasiel Balaguer.  The young Cuban pitcher has his first work out for a Major League club with the Florida Marlins.

If calling Jose Reyes the best player in the National League is only stretching the truth a little, calling Bob Klapisch the best writer in baseball is almost accurate.

Rocco Baldelli has been forced to retire.

It’s not easy to ignore a headline like this: Fear Strikes Out: Mental Illness Turns Star Catcher Into an Axe Murderer.

Brian Cashman clarifies his statement on moving Derek Jeter to the outfield.

The Houston Astros avoided arbitration and came to terms with Wandy Rodriguez on a $34 million, three-year extension.

Finally, this is an actual quote from an article on Bleacher Report:

The site has concentrated on getting itself established and then growing. Now, it’s time to raise the level of discourse.

Comments (28)

  1. Wait, Bleacher Report writers know the meaning of the word ‘discourse’?

  2. maybe they used Google thesaurus?

  3. I’m guessing AA knows something we don’t know about the market right now – he’s very clearly stockpiling above-average, fringe-closer type right-handed relief pitchers and I don’t think he’d be doing that without a reason.

    The thing that seems to be going unnoticed by a lot of people is that Francisco is probably the best pitcher in the bullpen at this point. And he’s better against lefties than righties (at least in the past couple of years), which fills an obvious need for the Jays (and probably allows them to go into the season without carrying a less effective option like Jesse Carlson just because he throws with his left hand).

  4. Could AA have learned something from last years trade deadline where he had tonnes of interest in Downs, Frasor, Gregg but ended up not trading any of his bullpen arms? In that, he believes when the trade deadline comes again there will be a decent market in return for his bullpen arms and actually make a trade or two? Maybe this Napoli/FF trade can’t be 100% analyzed until the 2011 trade deadline when 1 or 2 bullpen arms are traded.

  5. Please just take a look at the value of DH’s signed this offseason.

    Thome – OPS+ 178 , $3M contract
    Manny – OPS+ 138 , $2M contract
    Vlad – OPS+ 122
    Napoli – OPS+ 118 , $6M contract (roughly)

  6. Several comments by AA make me think that the Jays have a short-list for each position of the players and prospects that the team rank the highest. Their goal seems to have someone from that list in every position on the roster, and to accumulate as many of those five-star players as possible. So we’re going to see trades where the Jays give up someone not on their list (Napoli) for someone who is (Francisco).

  7. I’m with Greg, especially given that AA said they’d been trying to trade for Francisco for a long time now.

  8. All very good points. But I just don’t see how Francisco is a marked improvement over Jason Frasor.

  9. Type A status isn’t necessarily the kiss of death for free agent relievers. It only comes back to haunt the player (and team) if they’re within that just barely a Type A player range. My point is this: if you carry enough of them eventually one will have a good enough year that they stick and if not your left in a Jason Frasor situation where you ‘have’ to keep a very good reliever for another year – basically leaves the team in an annual win-win situation. Similarly, at the trade deadline eventually a team will be desperate enough for bullpen help to unload something valuable for one of the many arms we have to spare. Not a bad position to be in.

    With bullpens so easy to put together (as we’ve seen AA prove this year), it might not actually be a bad strategy to just clean the slate every year and sign/call up five new guys in the offseason and then guarantee yourself 4 or 5 sandwich picks or better, repeat process..

  10. So, we just trust that Jon Heyman is being legit with that $5MIL claim? Because that’s bullshit. Heyman is a noisy hack and I have a hard time accepting any of his claims at face value.

  11. I’ve got a couple questions.

    When will the new CBA take effect? I keep hearing conflicting comments. Some people are saying it wont take effect until 2012 but you seem to be worried about the Type A/B status of free agents at the end of 2011.

    Can anyone better explain the whole $5 million in cash that was unreported? For some reason I’m hesitant to take a Heyman tweet at face value. I also heard it had something to do with Vernon’s signing bonuses. It still seems like a lot of dough not to disclose. Is there a precedent for a non disclosure of funds like this?

  12. I think even more now that the Jays will trade Frasor. I don’t quite understand why AA would go out and acquire all that RH relief pitching just to trade one away, but they can’t break camp with 9 viable right-handed relievers.

    Francisco is pretty good against lefties too, so maybe the Jays are only planning to go north with one lefty in their ‘pen.

  13. I agree with not being too thrilled with the Napoli trade, though with AA I’m willing to wait and see. I think he has shown with a few trades now he is willing to not equal value, but instead trade a player of value for a player of greater potential value (Marcum for Lawrie, Wallace for Gose).

    If he can get a lights out closer in Francisco and sign someone cheaper than Napoli for DH (Guerrero) it makes more sense. Perhaps he also figures that come early in the season one contender will have an awful bullpen and he will be able to trade two Jays relievers for a nice return. After the Wells deal brilliance I am willing to wait and see.

  14. @swope: Heyman also reported that Andy Pettitte was changing his last name to Godot. I’m not sure if he was serious or not. Is there a joke here I’m not getting?

  15. @ Travis There is a play called Waiting for Godot. I’m guessing Waiting for Pettitte is what he means

  16. Waiting For Godot, the Samuel Beckett play.

    I can’t imagine the CBA taking effect for 2011 either, but Keri mentioned it in his FanGraphs piece so I didn’t want to not mention it.

  17. ” In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness!”

    Maybe this is what Heyman fears most.

    I just don’t like how this is being reported throughout the MSM and “blogosphere” without anything backing it up but his goddamn tweet. It doesn’t make sense.

  18. That Heyman fellow is one witty character. He’s the US version of Richard Griffen…but with less facial hair.

  19. If the CBA were to take affect immediately (2011 FA class) it seems unfair to the GMs (like AA) who acquire players in consideration of their potential Type A/B status for this year. I hope that was an error on Keri’s part!

    Well, the $5 million that went with Vernon appears to be official enough to be on the Cot’s contract page :

    http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/los-angeles-angels-of-anaheim.html

    I guess it’s for real. Still not sure why it was all hush hush though.

  20. @Parkes:

    All very good points. But I just don’t see how Francisco is a marked improvement over Jason Frasor.

    Who says he has to be? Two very good relief pitchers are better than one. I know there’s a general expectation out there that Frasor will be released or traded, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. And, as has been said, Francisco is excellent against LHB so he eliminates the need to carry an extra left-hander.

    Imagine a bullpen of:
    Frank Francisco
    Jason Frasor
    Jon Rauch
    Octavio Dotel
    Shawn Camp
    David Purcey
    Janssen or Villenueva or Roenicke or Carlson or whichever starter doesn’t make the rotation

    That’s an incredibly solid bullpen – possibly one of the best around, top-to-bottom. And also consider that the new manager is a former pitching coach, which means a good bullpen is an extra-useful resource now that it’ll actually be used properly. That’s a huge asset, and I think it’s being generally underrated by Jays fans.

  21. @Dustin @JToronto Oooohhhhh, so he made a funny. Or, you know, tried.

  22. @Ty: very much agreed. And when we look at this strategy as potentially saving the arms of young pitchers, I like it even better.

    I didn’t LOVE moving Napoli, but would feel better if that money goes to Vlad.

  23. not saying that we’ll ever see a return like this again but brandon morrow was acquired for a bullpen piece. i wouldn’t underestimate alex’s ability to make use of an overflowing pen.

  24. Don’t discount Johermyn Chavez who went with League. The shine might be off Jack Z but he isn’t crazy.

  25. Both GMs said there was no money exchanged, until I hear otherwise from them, that’s what I’ll believe.

  26. lets go team Latin America! sorry napoli is not required, we have tourists in place with the likes of hill and lind…

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