Ugh. As if Griffin has managed to put up a new mail bag before I could even be arsed to answer the last one– which itself I started late, even though I missed the previous one as well.
And sure, I could have just scrapped the whole fucking thing– some of the questions are, after all, a little dated by now– and wrote about how the Jays’ World Series odds are in the bottom third at 1/50 (place your bets!), how Shaun Marcum called it a dream come true to be back in the Midwest with Milwaukee, how part of AJ Burnett’s problems last year may have been due to a messy divorce (you don’t say!), how Bluebird Banter nailed it on the Jays’ reported pursuit of Octavio Dotel with the quip, “Because what would we do if our closer didn’t walk everyone?”, how newlywed Adam Lind is going to head to Dunedin for a winter of first base instruction, how Dirk Hayhurst wrote a great blog post about the passing of Bob Feller– as did John Lott of the National Post, remembering getting Feller’s autograph as a kid in the 50s, then interviewing him a half-century later– or how Notgraphs torched some ridiculous Toronto Sun columnist for suggesting Joey Votto winning the Lou Marsh award was “a slap in the face” to Canada’s Olympians– because, you know, being the best in the world at a sport played by 40 people is totally on par with being the best baseball player.
But nah, I’ve already done this much, let’s just post it– minus the question I used in the Encarnacion post below…
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers. Also, if there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Doug Drabek and Travis Snider plus others for Zack Greinke? Come on. AA’s plan was (in theory) to go after young, controllable players with very high ceilings. The idea was to patiently wait so that you would end up with a roster consisting of several bonafide stars who would form the nucleus of a team for many years to come. As a regular starter, Greinke had one outstanding year, one very good year, and two poor years. He’s under contract for 2 more years at $13.5M per year, and then is a free agent. Toronto was, at least, until now, on his no-trade list. Drabek is projected to be a staff ace. Snider is still only 22 and, now that Cito is gone, Travis will presumably be sent out to left field every day. His upside is likewise huge. Based on Greinke’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising if over the next 2 years, he had a great year and a mediocre year. And then he would move on. And then we would be watching Drabek and Snider making headlines from KC. Come on. Richard, make some calls and do something about this.
Patrick Bedard, Ottawa
Actually, Patrick, that deal doesn’t sound half bad. I mean, I’m loathe to give up Snider, but what the fuck has Doug Drabek done since winning the 1990 Cy Young? Sure, he had a couple more nice seasons in Pittsburgh, and one or two more as an Astro, but… honestly, I don’t even think we own his rights. So, if KC’s down with that, I think the Jays should probably jump at the chance.
If you mean his son Kyle, though, I’m totally with you– mostly. I mean, no, I wouldn’t trade Drabek and Snider for Greinke– not now that Marcum is gone, and even then, not without an opportunity to sign him to an extension. However, I don’t quite agree with your assessment of Greinke. Yes, he had an outstanding year in 2009. You’re right, he had a very good year in 2008. But I’m not sure about these poor years you’re talking about– if you mean 2007, he actually only started in 14 of the 52 games he appeared in, and in 2005, the season before he took time off for personal reasons, he was only just 21, so… maybe you’re right, but I think I could give him a break for that.
Now, if you’re referring to 2010 as a poor year, it really depends on the stats you’re looking at. Sure, his ERA looks bloated for a pitcher of his quality, he had a losing record, and his strikeout rate was down a little from the previous two years. But his 5.2 WAR ranked him 11th among pitchers in all of baseball– ahead of Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Oswalt, and many more. And his FIP– Fielding Independent Pitching– was 20th among qualified starters in the big leagues (his xFIP was 23rd).
Since those are stats that try to distill a players individual performance into its purest singular form, filtering out factors that he isn’t specifically responsible for, I’ll take them over whatever you’re looking at any day– so I’ll say that Greinke was very good in 2010.
Good enough that two years of him are worth five or six each of Drabek and Snider? Oh, fuck no. And to what end does that move even make any sense?
I’m enjoying the mailbag as always; it’s excellent to have it available in the off-season as well as during the year. Glad to see Pat Gillick elected to the Hall of Fame. Can you please explain the Shawn Marcum-Brett Lawrie trade? The Jays traded this past season’s starting day pitcher for a second baseman. Last time I looked, the Blue Jays had a second baseman named Aaron Hill, and PROVEN starting pitching is a very valuable commodity, especially on a young starting staff, and with the bullpen undergoing significant changes. Is there some intangible that I’m missing?
Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work!
Richard Fine, Toronto
Richard, yes, I think there’s something you’re missing– the fact that Alex Anthopoulos isn’t willing to put all his eggs into the basket labelled “contend in 2011.”
No, he’s not trying to dismantle an 85 win team, because there is a shot they can be decent, and maybe even surprise some people, a la the 2008 Rays. That’s especially so if you add a bat or two that almost-impossibly hit their exact potential– think Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell with the Giants this year– and when you consider how having full seasons of Drabek and the Morrow we saw in the second half, plus continued steps in the right direction from Romero and Cecil could just about offset the loss of Marcum.
I mean, it’s not very realistic, but if they really wanted to, even after the Marcum deal– and especially now that Cliff Lee has spurned the Yankees– the club could feasibly create enough false hope to make even Paul Godfrey blush.
However, Alex is not going “all in”. His aim isn’t to make the club as good as he possibly c
an in 2011 and 2012 and figure out how to move forward from whatever wreckage that will have wrought later– the way the fans who are apoplectic that they’re not out signing monstrous contracts and are they trading a “PROVEN!!!!1!!!1!!!!” guy for a prospect can’t possibly seem to understand.
His endgame appears to be much longer than that, which is why he’s accumulating such great pieces in the farm system– and make no mistake, Lawrie is a great prospect. He appears to want players who will ascend to the big leagues over the next few years, be cheap and under team control for a long time, and will be part of a pipeline of players in the minors pressing major leaguers for their jobs, or available to use as trade chips– much the way Brett Lawrie was, having been blocked on the corners in Milwaukee by Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Mat Gamel.
And, oh yeah, on that point, most people don’t think Lawrie sticks at second anyway. Anthopoulos himself said he thinks Lawrie’s skills may even be wasted there. So, even if it wasn’t ridiculous to worry about Lawrie pushing a guy who was awful last year and could be a free agent as soon as next winter out the door, it was still ridiculous.
Love the insight into the world of Major League Baseball. I am curious why teams don’t explore the concept of a “sign and trade” with arbitration eligible free agents like other sports. Specifically with Type A free agents like Jason Frasor. While there appears to be interest in players like this, teams stay away due to his Type A status and the player is basically stuck on a one year deal with a team that could take him or leave him. Granted they could be traded at any time, but that also never seems to occur with these players. Do teams ever discuss this option of the player signing with his original team, only to be flipped to another team for a more reasonable return of prospects?
Jon K, Hamilton
Jon, I had to look this up, so don’t get all impressed with me or anything, but it appears as though it is technically possible, and I’m not sure why it isn’t used more often.
My initial assumption was that it didn’t make much sense for a team to do a “sign and trade” after going through the process of offering arbitration and having a player decline, because that technically makes the player a free agent, and by rules of the CBA, he can’t be traded until June 15th. However, according to an MLB.com article from last year, the player can give written consent to waive the right not to be traded until then.
So then, why don’t GMs use this loophole to get some return on a player who’s not in their plans, but who isn’t likely to decline arbitration? I’m not entirely sure– maybe the union has an issue with it, maybe it’s because they’re happy with the compensation as is and don’t want to create a scenario where every free agent signing is affected by the potential for a sign-and-trade, maybe it would over complicate things as the teams try to work out reasonable compensation, or… I really don’t know. It’s a good question.
It FEELS as though Alex A makes more daring trades than his predecessor. As far as the Lawrie-Marcum trade is concerned, which JP transactions do you view as most comparable? I’m guessing Hinske from Oakland.
Stu Royal, Erin
I think you’re about as close as you can get, Stu. Hinske was a well-regarded young player in the Oakland system at the time, blocked at third by Eric Chavez, and acquired, along with Justin Miller, for a still-valuable Billy Koch. Neither Hinske nor Koch had the value of Marcum or Lawrie, but the dynamic of the deal is somewhat similar– the major difference being that Hinske was ready to step into the Majors, while Lawrie is still a year off… at least, to the mind of everyone but Brett Lawrie.
And that really was what I view as the major problem with JP. He was extremely reluctant, I believe due to pressure from above, tacit or outright, to do anything that might allow the fan base to think the club wasn’t a potential contender if only everything would just break right. This was especially so in the mid-to-late years of his tenure, much to the detriment of the club, which could have used a GM having the blessing of ownership to accept reality, the way Anthopoulos seemingly has.
By the end Ricciardi got a little better in this regard, flipping Matt Stairs and David Eckstein in mid-season deals– for shit all, but still– and managing to get Zach Stewart as part of a package in return for Scott Rolen. Unfortunately– or, actually, probably not– by then, after so many years of missed opportunities and moves he might have made had ownership been willing to accept a step backwards, it was far too late to save his job.
FYI, you can check out all the transactions of the glorious Ricciardi years here.
With the non-tender deadline passing by, which non-tender free agents do you think the Jays will go after? In particular, what is your opinion on a one-year incentive-laden contract for Russell Martin? This would not only allow J.P. Arencibia to gradually grow into a major league catcher by serving as a backup but if Martin performs up to his capabilities he could prove quite the asset for the Jays by next year’s trade deadline.
Matthew Lee, Toronto
Bit of a moot point now, as Jussell Martin has signed with the New York Yankees, but I’d guess there are a couple non-tender guys that the Jays would be looking at, particularly relief arms like Bobby Jenks (who, FYI, has now signed with Boston for two years, $12-million) or Hideki Okajima, but there’s not anyone who really blows you away among those non-tendered… uh, obviously.
Also, interesting point on Martin that I hadn’t thought of when we were discussing his viability in earlier posts, which comes from Keith Law during Thursday’s chat at ESPN: “Martin had a .313 OBP when not hitting 8th (ahead of the pitcher, when he’s likely to be pitched around).”
Q-Has anything been announced yet for next year’s TV deal? There were a lot of angry fans at the end of the season.
Joe Glionna, Montreal
I’m not aware of any announcement regarding which games will be on the Sportsnet channel that people actually get and which ones Rogers will be absolute fucking cunts about, and maybe now that longtime TV guy Keith Pelley is heading up Rogers Media– taking over for the retiring Handsome Tony Viner– the situation will be less of a giant fucking clusterfuck of indifference towards their customers like last year was, but… this is Rogers we’re talking about, so how fucking likely do you think that is?
One observation I have made as a baseball fan is the number of teams in the AL West and NL Central. From what I understand, baseball is the only sport out of the big four that has uneven number of teams in two separate divisions. I assume this is the case as baseball requires an even number of teams in each league to ensure proper scheduling and match-ups, although inter-league play has mitigated this somewhat. From what you know and who you have talked to in the baseball world, has there ever been any complaining or official filings done by teams in the NL Central in terms of this apparent issue in competitive advantage (consistently 1/6 chance in winning a division versus 1/4 chances) compared
with the AL West. If not, do you have any suggestions to properly address this in the future – I am sure Bud and team may have come across this topic already.
Frank Chiu, Toronto
Frank, you’re absolutely right that it’s a scheduling thing to have an uneven number of teams in each league, and while it isn’t exactly ideal as is, there isn’t exactly a no-brainer solution, either. Go back down to two divisions in each league? Just one? I’m fine with any of those solutions, but unless you expand by a couple of teams– or you have an odd number of teams in each league, and constantly have one interleague series (ugh… though… fuck, why not?)– it’s a reality that those teams will have to face.
The Wild Card makes it far less of an issue than it might be otherwise, however, and frankly, I have a hard time mustering much sympathy here, given the giant economic imbalance in the division the Jays play in. That one is the one that really makes it difficult for teams, in my view. Of course, I might be a little biased.
Q-What’s the word on Dirk Hayhurst? Is he an option in the bullpen or is his future now in the media?
Duncan Alexander, Burlington
The word on Dirk Hayhurst comes from the man himself– he’s been blogging over at his official site, and recently answered once and for all the arm question, declaring himself healthy and ready to compete.
That’s awesome news. I’ve met Dirk, albeit briefly, but even if I hadn’t, it’s impossible not to be able to tell through his book (makes a great Christmas gift!), his blog, and his @TheGarfoose Twitter what a genuine, funny, down to earth guy he is– so you can’t not be rooting for him.
He is, however, currently a minor league free agent, and I have no idea whether he remains an option for the Jays, or whether he’ll have to try and catch on with another team. Regardless, he’s not a full-time writer just yet, and it would be extremely cool to see him back here on the mound in Toronto.
I didn’t play pro ball, but I played up to Triple A in the Etobicoke Ranger system and I have to ask you, is playing first base in the majors really that difficult? I’ve been saying the entire time they should put Lind at first. I could play first base defensively in the majors. All you have to do is catch the ball. It shouldn’t be that complicated, especially for a guy like Lind who played the position in college. Where is “range” required? When does a first baseman ever “throw”? It’s the easiest position in the game. Plus, he’s left handed! It’s a no-brainer. Is it me, or is everyone over analyzing this?
David Ritchie, Toronto
Maybe you’re right to a point, Dave, but holy fuck, you’re discounting a whole shitload of value that defence brings. I mean, every dropped throw and every ball that gets past your first baseman down the line… you’re adding tremendously to your opponent’s ability to score runs on you. Maybe you can be so cavalier about that one position, but as an operating philosophy to discount the value of defence that much? Probably a little completely fucking dumb.
Plus, all the value he loses with his glove he has to make up for with his bat or he’s just not worth keeping around. Sure, part of the reason great hitters move to DH as they get older is that keeping them off the field reduces the risk of injury, but another part of it is that it reduces the risk of fucking butchery in the field.
Now, Lind may well be able to handle first a whole lot better than that, but… no, I certainly wouldn’t suggest simply sticking him there and not giving a shit whether or not he’s fucking killing you with his glove, or lack thereof.
Read your column about Lawrie this morning, excellent as usual. If the Jays need a backup catcher if JP doesn’t work out, are they going to re-sign Chavez to a minor-league deal? He wasn’t that bad when he was here.
Daniel Cude, North York, ON
My expectations were set pretty fucking incredibly low for him, but I must admit, I kinda liked Raul Chavez when he was here– if only because I could squint and pretend I was watching character actor Luis Guzman. And he’s a decent enough option to play in Las Vegas and come up to fill in if either Aaron Cibia or Jose Molina gets injured– assuming the team doesn’t pick up another catcher– but… wait, why the fuck are we talking about Raul Chavez?
Do you think the Marcum trade sets the Blue Jays back in their ability to contend for a playoff spot in 2011? Is this clear indication from the GM that they are not thinking playoffs until 2012 or 2013?
Mia Matthews, Waterloo
I was getting excited about the next few years of Blue Jays baseball until I saw what the Red Sox did this week. First they brought in Adrian Gonzalez and then Carl Crawford. Their lineup has just been upgraded from very good to ridiculous. Until the Jays begin spending big money I feel as though they will always be competing hard for third place. Do you see it any differently?
Dan Usten, Toronto
I absolutely see it differently, Dan. I mean, look at the run that Tampa has had over the last few years– on less money than the Jays have already been spending. And while it’s absolutely true that the Rays benefitted tremendously from having high draft picks, they also made some terriffic trades– especially in-season after declaring themselves trade deadline “sellers,” something the Jays, under JP Ricciardi, were loathe to do. Anthopoulos doesn’t have the same opportunity to consistently draft in the top ten, but he’s building a similar kind of pipeline, with the bounty from the Roy Halladay trade, now the Shaun Marcum trade, international signings and his calculated hoarding of draf picksl, and new focus on taking high end talent and opening up the vault to get them signed.
Will the Jays eventually have to spend big to keep the team together? Yes. And at that point it seems they’ll be able to do so– not only because of Rogers’ near limitless coiffers, but because as the accumulated prospects and young players turn into quality major leaguers, success on the field should come, and with it, more success at the gate. At least, that’s the idea. You got anything better?