Friday, November 20, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's team NL is the Toronto Blue Jays and our guest is Stoeten from the Jays Blog, Drunk Jays Fans.
1. The obvious question on everybody's mind surrounding the Jays is what do they do with Halladay. Will they trade him? Will they extend him? Will they wait til the all start break? Thoughts?
They’ve been saying all the right things—that they love him so much that they’re not even sure they can bring themselves to trade him, and that they’re comfortable letting him walk at the end of the year and taking the draft picks—mostly because they saw what happened during the summer when the previous GM said all the wrong things, but make no mistake, behind the scenes, they’re working on dealing him, and I’d wager that it’s going to happen sooner than later. I don’t think he’s a Jay when the season starts, and at this point.
2. The Jays freed up money when they straight up just let the White Sox take Alex Rios. Were you happy with the move? Where do you think they utilize the cash they saved?
I loved the move. Rios is an incredibly talented guy and may still make the Jays look like fools for it, but given that they’re already saddled with Vernon Wells’ untradeable contract, they’d have been in an incredibly tough spot in terms of payroll flexibility if Rios continued to go the same route. It hurt to deal him at his lowest value and to get nothing but salary relief back for him, but unlike a lot of fans, I do have faith that ownership will reinvest that money back into the team down the line. Legend has it Rogers’ CEO Nadir Mohamed asked Paul Beeston this year if he needed an infusion of cash, and Beeston said no, preferring to cash in that offer when the organization is at a point where it makes sense to take them to the next level and seems less like simply throwing money at a problem.
3. Shawn Marcum and Dustin McGowan were solid contributors in 08 but injured in 09, will they be in the rotation on opening day? Whom else will make up the 5-man?
Marcum was on pace to be back this August, if they needed him, so he should be fine, and as long as he’s the same guy as he was before the injury, he’ll be a very solid, very underrated pitcher in the American League, and the anchor of the rotation—unless they get someone even better back for Halladay. McGowan is the wildcard. For a lot of the summer we were hearing that he wasn’t progressing well, and the team wouldn’t even say for sure that they thought he’d ever pitch again. Lately we’ve been hearing much more encouraging reports, but still, nobody knows what to expect. It’s been a long road for him—he lost a year to Tommy John in the minors and spent six other seasons down there before finally putting it together. Then, almost as soon as he figured it out, he tore his labrum. If he’s the same guy he was in 2007 he’ll have fantastic, front-of-the-rotation stuff, with inconsistent command that ideally he’ll improve over time. But it’s impossible to believe he’ll still be that guy—especially right away. The rest of the rotation is a bit of a crapshoot, but I’d guess Romero, Rzepczynski, someone who comes back for Halladay, and if McGowan isn’t ready, Brett Cecil.
4. Where the hell did Aaron Hill's 36 home runs come from? If anything you have to like the fact that Ricciardi locked him up for the long term. Is there anything else J.P. did in his tenure that you think will help the Jays build in the future?
I think there’s a lot of good that JP did, and I actually backed his moves a lot longer than most. The Jays had a couple years where they had some of the best pitching and defense in baseball—if not the best-- and couldn't find a way to score enough runs. But there's value to that, and the pitching depth is still quite good. Lind, Hill and Snider are his players, and even at the bitter end, he did well in the Scott Rolen trade, I think. Of course, there was a lot that went wrong, and having only two above average position players and one strong prospect to your credit, after eight years, is pretty incredibly awful. But still, there is a lot that JP did that can be built on. As for Hill, he’s always been a good contact hitter—I’d like to see him walk a bit more—and someone who we thought could hit a lot of doubles. Honestly, my theory is that, while he was out with a post-concussion syndrome in 2008, he was able to work out and bulk up a bit more than he would have had the opportunity to during the grind of a baseball season, meaning that balls that would have been doubles in previous years were now going yard. I have absolutely nothing scientific to back that up, though.
5. Marco Scutaro was a revelation in 2009. Will the Jays keep him or will he get a sizeable contract elsewhere?
Scutaro is a Type-A free agent, so he’ll net the Jays a sandwich round pick plus a high pick from the team who signs him when he goes elsewhere. Given their commitment to getting better in the long term, I’m very certain he’s going to be playing elsewhere. The only scenario in which I see him coming back would be something similar to what happened to Orlando Cabrera last year. Scutaro’s 34, he’s never played as well as he did in his free agent year, and he’s going to be looking for a lot of money and more than a two-year deal, I imagine. It may be that, given the money, the term, and the red flags, teams won’t be willing to give up a high compensation pick to sign him. That would give the Jays a chance to take him back at a discount, but I’d say that’s fairly unlikely.
6. Mr. Barajas is a free agent this offseason. The Jays catcher on opening day will be whom?
I think there’s a decent chance it’s actually him. Either that, or somebody who is not currently in the organization. If they can find someone young and cheap as a stopgap until either prospect JP Arencibia is ready or they find a more permanent solution, they’ll do it, but otherwise they’ll go year-to-year with guys like Barajas. They can probably do just as well for less money, but the staff is comfortable with Barajas and he likes it here, so if they can’t get younger, it makes sense to have him back.
7. You've gassed your owner and have convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents do you sign?
I'm not thrilled with any of the free agents available this year, considering how much they're likely to make. Frankly, I save my money until next year when, barring extensions, I believe Halladay, Mauer and Beckett will hit the market.
8. Which Jay prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
Travis Snider. And I hope to hell our ridiculous, old school manager actually gives him an opportunity to play every day—which, sadly, is not a given. Ugh.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Jays do you part way with?
Without question, Vernon Wells. Just about everybody else could be moved for something younger, and that’s what I think the Jays need to start doing—stockpiling young players. And even if they can’t get anything of value for a Brian Tallet, his contract isn’t killing the team, Wells’ is.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Jays will make the playoffs in ______.