If you're in to podcasts, you should be listening to the Up and In podcast with Kevin Goldstein and Josh Parks of baseballprospectus. They spent a good 20 minutes just waxing on about how awesome the Jays' farm system is. You can check that out for yourself, but I've taken the liberty to listen to it already and take out the Jays' snippets. Episode 80, for what it's worth, at 1:16:00 or so. The highlights:
KG: [maniacal laughter]
JP: Dude... hahaha. That's a craaaazy system... that's the "Bob Seger" system. [I don't understand what he means by that, but it's a compliment.]If you remember looking through the list of prospects in the Jays system, you'll remember that Goldstein had his list divided in to 5-stars, 4-stars, and 3-stars, and then 9 other guys plus a sleeper. When discussing the Jays list with BP interns, just to figure out how far in to the system ranks that they had to go to find bios on the players;
KG: One of the interns emailed me back and asked "how far back the 3-star list goes back", and I answered "20... it's 20"[...] This is as good a collection of young pitching as you'll find in all of baseball. [...] They have 8 million young pitchers with just crazy-high ceilings.As a frame of reference, 3-star prospects usually make up the majority of KG's top-11's. 3-10 on last year's Jays' list were 3*, with a 2* rounding things out, and two more 2*'s appeared on the '09 list. The Jays now have TWENTY 3*'s. KG also points out that despite all the high-ceiling pitchers in that system, the fact that they start the list off with two 5*, up the middle guys (d'Arnaud at C, Marisnick at CF) makes it really special. JP calls d'Arnaud "an all-star waiting to happen".
JP: I think it's the best system in baseball.
They then argue about whether or not Marisnick will be able to stick at CF going forward. They agree that he's already a big kid, but JP thinks he'll lose a step as he fills out, which will mean that he needs to move to a corner, where his bat will still provide more than enough value. KG, on the other hand, thinks that he'll be just fine in CF even if he does lose speed, citing Torii Hunter as being an excellent defensive CF for years despite league-average speed (they fail to mention that if he can't stick it in CF, Rasmus and Gose should still be around, whether or not they can hand CF in a few years time. Still, having both Gose and Marisnick in your outfield should take away some of the worry about whether either can be an elite CF-defender. Look at Gardner and Granderson this year for the Yankees).
They use Marisnick as a segue to Anthony Gose. As a preamble, "burner" means that he's outrageously fast. They also use some numbers within this to describe him; that's basically a scale that scouts like to use, almost as slang. The scale is from 20-80, from the best of my understanding, though I'm not sure where it originated, nor do I get why it goes from 20 to 30 to 40, etc., without 25, 35, 45, and so on. Anyway:
JP: Gose can fuckin'... do everything.Their knock on Gose is his contact. I've read some stuff that suggests that he'll improve with his contact rate, since he's a prep hitter, but still will probably strike out a lot. KG compares him to Devon White. JP says that there's more power there than most people realize.
KG:That's a burner... average power at least.
JP: Not a bad approach.
KG: 80-Arm... at least (Chuckles), and a 70-CF.
JP: If there's anybody who you can go over 80 for (re: speed), it's him.
The format of the prospect-list talk usually goes (1)talk about quality of the system, (2) talk about each of the top 4-5, (3) each person pick their own guy from the bottom half of the list. When asked which of the young pitchers in the rest of the top 20 list stands out, JP answers with Nicolino, calling him a pitcher, not a thrower, and that Nicolino will be "his guy".
KG: Hard to find a 19-year olds with a 60-changeup.KG answers with Matt Dean, whom the Jays picked in the 13th round do to signability issues.
JP:[talks a bit about the fastball, before coming back to change] I never say this about young pitchers -- it's usually "60 projected" -- I think he has a 60-pitch.
KG: OH yeah. Changeup is really good.
JP: The breaking ball isn't there yet, and it may never get there, but it may not have to get there with the way his command profile suggests that he's going to become... with a fastball that's good -- and it doesn't have to be great-- everything about this guy is a combination of decent stuff, but with a lot of pitchability... I don't think this is a guy that's going to stumble at all on the way up. This arm is really, really, really good. [...] I'm in love with him.
KG: Classic 3B profile... really good hitter, he'll hit for power, but athletic and strong.Fangraphs has more Morrow stuff.
JP: And he stays at third [as in he's athletic enough that he won't necessarily have to move to the outfield]
KG: The only reason he was a 13th round pick was because he was going to cost money. And the Jays had an insanely aggressive draft.
JP: Yeah, there were a lot of people who were fans of the college team (U of Texas, JP is a fan of UT) who were pissed off that he signed. How many players in the minor leagues fit a true 3B profile and can stick? There is a shortage of true, legitimate 3B prospects who can stick and have success at the position. Those are very, very valuable prospects.
Apparently the Jays signed a few minor leaguers to some contracts today, which wasn't really the transaction news I was looking for. More on that in a second, but... RHP Tim Redding, LHP Bill Murphy, and C Kyle Phillips all signed minor league agreements today.
I figured the Francisco Cordero contract would be finalized today, but apparently not, not that there's an incredible rush or anything. The Jays do need to find an empty 40-man spot for him though, so we can expect a DFA or trade soon. The other possibility is that Cordero failed his physical and won't be on the team after all. Come on....
As for me, I'm probably going to start doing previews soon. I'm fairly sure that I'll be writing a quick preview on every team, starting with the teams that I think are in the worst shape going forward, and moving towards the better ones. They will obviously get a little more extensive as they go, since there isn't exactly a whole lot to write about the Orioles, the White Sox, etc. This won't necessarily be a "projected standings" as much as it will be a "team that is in a situation in which I'd like to be a GM of" list. I'll probably start with the AL teams, going from least-to-(AL b)east, since I know a fair bit more about them, and then move over to the NL and do the same.
We're about 30 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, which means we're in the range of 70 or so days from opening day. I should be able to hammer through 30 previews in 70 days, but I'll also want to do a fantasy baseball primer in there at some point as well. I've been substitute teaching a lot lately, and don't really do much when I'm there, so I assume I'll be writing outlines for a bunch of teams during the day, and then coming home and hammering them out at night. I'll probably review each league in a 2-parter at Nowhere Plans at some point during the week leading up to the regular season.