Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Lawrie for Pineda was discussed

Hey, so apparently Jeff Blair has multiple sources that claim the Jays were looking in to Michael Pineda this offseason.  So far so good.  It turns out the Mariners wanted Brett Lawrie in return...  No, that's it... straight up.  Yeah, I know.

I guess Jack Z. was in charge of drafting Lawrie when he was with the Brewers in 2008, and wanted him again for his Mariners club now, but heh.  I wouldn't have done that trade either.

Remember last night when AA said that he could have made all kinds of trades this year, but fans would have just turned to him and said "Well what did you do that for?"  Yeah, me too.  This would have created another hole in the infield, unless you want Luis Valbuena playing third everyday in exchange for a pitcher who is probably worse than what they gave up to get Lawrie initially.  Obviously Pineda still has room for improvement, but there's something to be said about the attrition rate of pitchers vs. that of position players.

Neither Lawrie nor Pineda is really proven as a big leaguer yet, but I'd certainly rather have the guy who put up 3 WAR in 1/3 of a season vs. the guy who put up 3 WAR in a full season, given ages, size, and positional scarcity.  Especially when Pineda's success could have been, at least partially, assisted by the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco.

A Pineda-Lawrie trade wouldn't be completely outrageous in a vacuum, but I wouldn't do it.  It's not that Lawrie is miles ahead of Pineda or anything in terms of value, because he isn't.  The mere fact is that Jays fan cared about Lawrie so long before they ever saw him play a single game of baseball, and we'd have a complete mutiny on our hands if we ever lost him, let alone traded him away.

In closing, I provide video evidence suggesting Lawrie>Pineda:


If you're still interested in reading about the Jays terrible, awful, horrific offseason, Yahoo!sports has their Jays offseason review/2012 preview.

Fangraphs has heard about the Lawrie-Pineda stuff too. [Ehh... having a closer look, they're comparing Lawrie and Jesus Montero, not Pineda.]

Monday, 30 January 2012

State of the Franchise Liveblog

6:30ET: Buck Martinez is the emcee.  Meh.  Turn off your cell phones you cunts.

6:32ET: Buck is introducing Beeston, Farrell and AA, not necessarily in that order.  He's stumbled over his words once, so far.  Expect more.

6:35ET: Beeston "Blah blah blah, future is bright."
Audience: *clap clap*
Beeston "But we need to win first."

Basically, same stuff we've heard from Beeston lately.  Won't fast-forward, want sustainable winning, and such.  Eventually, people will remember that he's said this over and over and that they're not going to diverge from that plan and they'll stop asking for Rogers to spend a cock-load of money.

6:40ET: Winter tour video?!? WTF is this shit?  Get to the questions.

6:50 ET: Wooooooooo more promotional events!
Wow, so people who aren't from the internet actually realize that winning is the only thing that's going to bring fans to the ballpark?  I'm legitimately shocked.  Good start.
Buck starting with his own questions now:  Asking about contract length, policy, philosphy, free agents, Prince Fielder etc.

Beeston (paraphrased): We'd like Fielder, he's a special talent, but was looking for 8-10 years, and that doesn't fit under our philosophy.  If you change it for one guy, you gotta change it for everybody, or you lose leverage and credibility.  5-year contracts are max for this club right now.  We need the ability to manage our team, and those big deals don't allow that.  We want credibility inside our negotiations.  Big ticket free agents tend to migrate to teams who are winning or about to win, so we need to start winning before we get those big guys to come, and keeping that credibility will help us there.

Buck: "Winfield! Molitor!"

6:53: Buck asks AA about Darvish:
AA: "We're linked to everyone, but again, we're not going past 5 years.  There's a lot of guys out there in the league that we like, but we like them at a certain price.  That's why we like the trade route, instead of the FA route.  We could have made trades to excite fans, but some of those deals wouldn't have worked out well long-term.

Roster turnover is huge since I've been on the job, and we have guys we like right now.  We're going to keep at it and try and win soon."

6:55: Buck asks about the bullpen.
Farrell: "We have more defined roles going in to spring training this year, as opposed to last year where we didn't really know who was going to close, who would set up, etc.  Delays (injuries) going in to ST kind of hurt last year.  This year, we have Santos to close, we have Oliver for LHB's, we have Frasor, etc.  Incosistencies were probably partially my fault, and it's something I've got to improve upon this year."

Buck: "Wooo, bullpen."

7:00 ET: Alan Nicholson: "1-yr, 3-yr. 5-yr business plans, gogogogo"
Farrell through 1 year " I get a C.  I've learned from my mistakes, and have ultimate optimism.  We can score runs, but we need more SP quality innings."
AA, predictions for 3-yr "Trade demands, payroll, minor leagues, etc... foundation... like building a house.  We're getting there now.  Our oldest guy is Bautista, and he's in his prime.  Our rotation is young, can get better, and we've got a bunch of re-inforcements in the minors.  Guys are going to have good year, bad years, and they're going to get hurt, but day-in and day-out, I'm excited."
Beeston "We should have been in the post-season by now.  Haivng said that, we've got a good team.  Better than last year, and better than the year before.  5 years from now, we'd better be in the post-season.  We want meaningful September baseball.  Once we're in the playoffs, we've got as good a chance as the other 9 teams [note- double wildcard?!?!]

7:01ET Old man, something about Omar Vizquel
Farrell "He's got to earn a spot.  He's got a good presence, and can play D.  He can spell 2b/3b/SS."

7:05ET: Angry guy!  Wanted Fielder.  Might not be back! Good, get the fuck out.  "I've only seen one trade, Wah wah."  Wanted Beltran, Fielder, etc. signed, Gio/Latos traded for.
AA "Some people don't want turf, some don't want DH, some have medical concerns, some don't want to play in the AL, even for more money/years.  Basically, there's a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you don't get.
It's easy to say 'I wanted you to trade for that guy' but the price was never right.  We can do stuff during the season as well."

7:07ET: Old guy bitching about the last whippersnapper's question, and then asks about season ticket prices and something about the Raptors.
Beeston: "Trying to be consistent, simple.  Don't worry about it."

7:10ET: Turf is an eyesore.  Give us grass.
Beeston "Examining grass.  It can work.  But this is a multi-purpose stadium (concerts, football) so grass is difficult.  Some guys don't want to play on turf, so we're looking at it."

7:12ET: Guy lying about his age.  Beest-> Where's Henke on the level of excellence?"
Beeston "Considered."

Old, old man. "Trop has turf."
Beeston "Trop's is permanent.  We're multi-purpose and can roll it in and out."

Old, old man, again. "AA, comment on the lack of Canadians on the field"
AA: "Lawrie is Canadian, you dumb old senile fuck."  And then the stream died.

8:17ET: Guy -- "Fill the seats please."
Beeston "We're creating a team that you want to come see.  Winning breeds asses.  It takes time.  Promos don't really do much."

Some Ron Guy: "Winning isn't Charlie Sheen.  Winning to some is just putting a whole bunch of effort.  I look at Lawrie, and I'm pleased.  I look at AA, and I'm pleased.  That brings me out to games."
Farrell "Our style of play in terms of baserunning, types of players, athleticism, etc. brings fans.  Giving 100% -- I think you can appreciate that.  That's what we encourage.  We want those players, because that's how you build a World Series team.  We think that the fan frustration is a positive, because that means that they want what we want.  We want guys to hustle, and we want guys to win."

8:20: Howard wants winners, and wants his kids not to settle for mediocrity.  The time is now to stop settling for mediocrity and dig in.  Talk is cheap, let's see results: Specific reasons/players who will bring us to the top, and how are we going to get those guys if we don't have them now.

AA: We've had a lot of good seasons since the 92-93 WS, but obviously not good enough.  We want elite, high-ceiling guys.  We realized that we need to beef up the minors and get assets.  Trading big league starters obviously makes your team worse in the short-term, but it's got to be worth it if it's for a high-ceiling guy.  Everyone on this team has all-star potential.  Fans aren't told about all the trade offers, and we could create the odd hole here if we really want, but we want elite talent at every position.  Results will show themselves, no matter how much we talk."

8:25: Something about Latin Americans in Niagara Falls.  I think he might be a scout or something, but it's too quiet.  Texas signed 5 guys during the World Series, while TOR didn't have enough time... WTF?!

AA "Changes in international scouting (Paddy).  Don't have much knowledge, but I'll look in to it."

8:30: "Inter-league... PHI is here again.  Natural rival?  Jays have a bad record in inter-league play, what's the deal?"

Beeston "15 teams in each league, always some inter-league.  There's no natural inter-league rival for most teams.  Some rules talk (NL rules in AL city?!?!?)."
Farrell "NL style is different, especially after 7th inning.  1 run is magnified, especially with pinch-hitters and hitting pitchers, bullpen, etc.  From a fan standpoint, ruleswap (above) would be interesting.  Our style is a little more well-suited for the NL play, and Kevin Cash will be an advanced scout so we can get a look at NL teams before they happen."

Buck: "We want a woman questioner."
Woman "Outfield positions and whatnot"
Farrell "Rasmus is our CF.  We want him to be comfortable.  If he plays to his capability, he gives us a lot offensively.  His defense is great.  Snider and Thames will compete for LF.  Possible platoon and options with Davis/Francisco."

Other woman: "I didn't know cock about baseball 2 years ago, and now I'm a big fan.  Not enough woman clothing and whatnot in the merch store.  Not necessarily pink, not necessarily tiny, and not necessarily the cutest players."
Beeston "K."

8:35: Lind tailed off hard, Kelly Johnson isn't great.  No cleanup hitter.  Fix it.
AA" There's nothing wrong with a balanced lineup if a bunch of guys can hit 20 HR's instead of having someone hitting 50 of whatever.  Kelly Johnson is good.  Was above average OPS, especially for a 2B, during his stint last year.  Lefty bat, good OBP, some HR's, nice guy.  Body language can fool you if that's why you think he doesn't wanna be here.

Old guy: "You paid too much for Rasmus."  HAHAHAHAHA. "Put Lawrie in the 4 hole."
Farrell "Sort by OBP, that's your lineup, more or less.  Yunel is comfortable at the lead-off spot, and he's our guy.  And we gave up some good pitchers, but Colby is going to be worth it (with a glare)."   Fuck you old man.

Man: "Umpires won't allow replays on the big screen.  Change that please."
Beeston "Yeah, we want it too."

8:40: Guy: "You've done a poor job of setting expectations for fans.  We;re there, we're not there.  We have money, we don't.  Which is it?  You'd rather trade, but people like Gio are harder to come by and are more expensive.  Where are we going with this?"

AA: "Plan isn't to lose guys and get picks, but this was the right time (rebuild) to do that.  From our standpoint, we traded a bunch of useless guys, plus two controllable guys who are pretty much fodder (depth).  We approach Colby as a Yunel project.  That worked, huh?
We want a 1st and 2nd rounder every year, no matter what, because that helps us sustain.  Multiple picks is good, but we need to scout well.  We can move depth and maintain."

8:45: Man: "Beeston, retire and give Buck your job."
Beeston "Fuck off"

Guy: "How prepared were you for the CBA, talk about Tyler Beede, and can we prevent that from happening again with the new CBA."
AA: "All we had to do to sign Beede was give him a blank check.  Sometimes you can't trade for guys because you don't have the right players.... it has to make sense, and at the right price.  We offered more years/dollars to two FA's who said no.  Sometimes it's the turf, sometimes it's this, sometimes it's that, etc.  Tyler will be fine and have a great career (until Vandy ruins his arm), but it wasn't the right thing to do."

8:50ET: "Hype about Brett Lawrie last year in ST.  Is there one of those this season?"
Farrell "LF is up for grabs as far as competition...  Drew Hutchison is good, has poise, etc.  Not to say that he is in the rotation on opening day, but we're not going to be reluctant to call him up if need be.  Gose, d'Arnaud, Deck Mcguire, etc.  It's emerging more clearly."

Closing thoughts from Beeston: Thanks for Q's.  There's more passion now than last year.  We've got a strong front office, who works hard, never lets up, and want to improve the club.  Farrell is good, and the players are good, and very proud to wear the leaf and Blue Jays uniform.

There's more than one way to do this.  We're committed to a plan.  Come along with us, it's going to be fun.

If you have questions that you didn't want to ask tonight, call me.  E-mail AA.  We'll get back to you and fast."

Now they're giving out some raffle prizes or something.  At some point in time, it became evident that I live in PEI, and not in the Eastern timezone.

As a whole, I don't think we heard a ton of stuff that we didn't know before.  Maybe the stuff about [unnamed free agents], but we also know that there were offers made to Carlos Beltran, and presumably Roy Oswalt?  Maybe someone else?  No biggie.

We also know that there was one butthurt Leafs fan who cared enough to go to the State of the Franchise presser just to tell us that he wasn't coming back as a fan ever again.  Which is fucking stupid, given the direction this team is going, but again, no biggie.  What we really got here was a lot of the same answers from Beeston and AA, so maybe this time people will pay attention?  NO 8-YEAR FREE AGENT CONTRACTS!

Good night folks!

Daily Stuffing

As we all know, the offseason is pretty well winding down, and teams are more or less finished making their big moves.  We're going to see a lot of minor league deals and minor bench moves, and there might be another trade or two, but the recent offseason trend is to have all the major stuff done at this point, since GM's are trying to beat their rival GM's to the punch on any competitive moves.  That's why I started writing previews last week, since there just wasn't really all that much else.  Anyway, a few little Jays/baseball links from around the internets.

The Blue Jays "State of the Franchise" meeting is tonight at 6:30PM ET, and I believe it is going to be webcast on their homepage.  If that is the case, I'll be watching it, and updating right here.  If not, enough people will be attending and tweeting live that it shouldn't be a problem to find out almost immediately what's happening.  I'd check Shi Davidi or Mike Cormack on twitter.

Roy Oswalt is apparently not interested in joining the Blue Jays, according to MLBTR.  Sucks, I guess.  I was going to make a post dedicated to pursuing such a gentleman, but never got around to it, and now I guess it doesn't matter.  Expect him to join a contender, i.e. Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers.

Former Jay Matt Stairs has been hired as a Gregg Zaun-type by NESN, the Boston Red Sox tv network.  Congrats to him, I guess, but enjoy hanging around those fackin' queeeahs.  Expect him to invent pinch-talking, and then do it at some point.

Could you have any interest in reading about a bunch of internet punks doing a fake dynasty draft for no stakes? If so, check this out.

Tango looks at the Prince Fielder contract relative to the historically comparable players.  It's not THAT bad based on this evaluation, assuming Fielder ages similarly to, say, Todd Helton, or steroidy Mark Mcgwire.

Finally, I was going to buy it anyway, so this really changes nothing to me personally, but check this out.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

2012 Previews: Chicago White Sox

Jesus Christ what a mess.  They won't necessarily be a horrifyingly bad team, but I really can't imagine being an owner of a professional baseball team and standing idly by while my GM simultaneously creates the worst farm system in baseball, while also spending $127MM, and finishing under .500.

The Majors
I probably could have told you that taking the Alex Rios deal was a bad idea, and the Jake Peavy thing was kind of iffy at the time as well, simply due to his injuries.  It's not that Peavy has been terrible or anything, because he's still fairly decent when healthy, but he's only pitched 111 innings or fewer in each of the last 3 seasons, and is now past his prime seasons, even if he can stay healthy.  The Adam Dunn contract seemed fine at the time, especially if the plan was to DH him, because I don't think anyone could have really predicted his fall off a cliff.

The end result of these three guys being either hurt, or terrible going forward is a nice big chunk of payroll providing not that much value.  Peavy is still owed $17MM this season (plus a $22MM option or $4MM buyout), Rios is due $36.5MM between now and 2014 (plus a $1MM buyout), and Dunn is due $44MM through 2014.  No one of these contracts alone will handcuff the team, but the three of them together, combined with other commitments like Paul Konerko, will take away a lot of payroll flexibility going forward.

Kenny Williams refuses to commit to a full blown rebuild, considering the payroll that this team can sustain.  I think the biggest problem he has going for him right now is the fact that he hasn't gotten much use out of the salary that he's using right now, but with a lack of a farm system, the only real way to compete in the next few years (i.e. until the Rios/Dunn deals are off the books) would be to spend on free agency and have a really expensive bench.  I'd have traded John Danks and Gavin Floyd already, if I were him, mostly because there's no way he's going to compete in the next 2 or 3 years.  The biggest struggle Williams is going to have going forward is dealing with a division that has the peaking Tigers and the up-and-coming Royals and Indians.

Alexei Ramirez is good and plays a premium position, so he would probably get a decent haul in a trade, and you could probably turn 4 or 5 guys from that roster in to a 3-star prospect (with a bit of cash tossed on the side in some cases), so it's not utterly hopeless if they're really willing to go ahead and actually commit to a rebuild.

The Minors
This farm system is the consensus worst in baseball.  That's why I'd have traded Danks and Floyd.  Floyd could still be moved (and Danks can be moved next year), so it's not a complete disasterfuck yet, but given the load of prospects Gio, Latos and Cahill fetched, this seems like a no-brainer, since they're not going to be winning soon anyway.

The White Sox have spent next to nothing on the draft over the last few years, and it shows.  They've hardly gotten any value from their own first rounders, either due to prospects fizzling, or trading them away (they also gave away a pick when they signed Adam Dunn, who gave them -3WAR for $12MM).

I guess it's a pet peeve of mine to see a team have a $100MM payroll and finish with 80 wins or fewer without having some semblance of a positive aspect of your season.

The Verdict

The best-case scenario for the White Sox over the next few years is being perpetually decent.  I don't see much of a fix until the Rios and Dunn contracts expire (assuming Dunn never returns to form).  They really need to accumulate some assets in the form of prospects so they can have some kind of chance to compete in 2017 or so.  I don't necessarily think that they completely tank this year, because they aren't absolutely awful and won't fully commit to re-tooling the organization, but they definitely aren't good enough to compete with the Tigers, and won't improve enough any time soon to compete with Indians or Royals when they get good either.

2012 Projection: 74-88, 4th in AL Central
I expect them to be worse this year than they were last year, but also expect improvements from the Royals and Indians.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they went it to full firesale mode, in which case they could actually win something like 70 games or fewer, depending on when the sale happens, but as is, they're probably better than that right now.

Friday, 27 January 2012

2012 Previews: Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles have, in my opinion, at least two guys who have no right to be on the team right now: Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.  That isn't meant to be any disrespect to either, since both are good players -- it's more of a diss to the people who have run this team (directly in to the ground).

The Majors
I understand that it's tough to attract players to Baltimore (blessing in disguise, really, if we're talking about free agents), mostly because of all the murders and stuff, but also because they've been a complete clustercock of an organization for the last 20 years.  It probably hasn't been that bad for the whole 20 years, but the fact that they've been playing in the AL East with the Yankees and Red Sox (and various good-to-great Rays and Jays teams) clearly magnifies their inadequacy, and has left them with little chance to compete.  If, at any point during the last 6 years in which they've had Markakis, they thought they had a chance to compete in this division, they've been fooling themselves.  I would have traded Markakis after his 6WAR 2008 season, and probably would have gotten a bounty of prospects for him.  I can understand not moving Jones, simply based on the hype behind him as a prospect and the fact that he's still fairly young, so he could still break out and double his trade value. He's had a .338 wOBA as a CF in the last 3 years so there's certainly some value there, and he still has 2 years of team control left, so they can still hang on and hope he breaks out.

Beyond that though, I just really don't understand how they don't blow the whole thing up and rebuild.  They've still got some young pieces in Matt Weiters and all those young, should-be-good-but-are-only-meh pitchers, plus Manny Machado waiting in the wings, but there's got to be a real problem in their player development system, and if I were taking over, I'd probably be replacing a significant percentage of the instructional and scouting staff immediately, and then blowing the team up to score some prospects.

Currently, I see Weiters (good), Markakis (OK), Jones (Almost good) and JJ Hardy (sustainable '11?), followed by a bunch of below average filler.  Robert Andino, Endy Chavez, Nolan Reimold, Mark Reynolds... it goes on.  The lineup just isn't that good.  The rotation should be good, but just can't seem to put it together either.  Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman... it's a pretty mighty list of guys who just haven't been able to put it together in the bigs.

Instead of dealing Markakis, they chose to extend him after his breakout '08 season (which is fine, really), inking him to a 6 year, $66.1MM contract (with escalators), buying out his three years of arbitration and his first three years of free agency. Markakis has responded by putting up seasons of 2.3, 2.6 and 2.2 WAR since then, largely due to his defensive abilities falling off a cliff, turning that deal in to a market-value-ish deal that wouldn't really fetch a whole lot in a trade.  The extension itself is fine in a vacuum, but there just hasn't really been anything else in the system to build around Markakis, and the guys who have come up behind Markakis have fizzled pretty terribly so far.  If that sounds kind of familiar to you, it's not terribly different from what happened in Toronto, when JP Ricciardi signed Vernon Wells to an extension, locked up Alex Rios, and signed AJ Burnett to for a 1-2 with Roy Halladay.  We all remember how that worked out.

Obviously it's easy to just look back at the last three years and say "Jeez, you shouldn't have done that," but whatever, the point remains that I would have traded him since there was nothing but Matt Weiters and a pitcher or two in the farm system.  Now that they can see what Andrew Friedman has done over the last 5 years or so, they should clearly replicate such a system (get used to reading that last line, by the way).  It takes more than an extension and 3 prospects to build a winner.

The Minors
The O's have Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy in their system, thanks to getting very early draft picks in the last couple of years, but beyond that, there's not much, and certainly not enough to combat the great farm systems of the Jays and Rays, or the spending ability of the Yankees and Red Sox.  The only way the O's are going to be able to compete at any point this decade is if they go all Marlins on us, signing some huge free agents and building themselves a cute little 3-year window with 7-year contracts, before fading back in to mediocrity. And even then, the Rays and Jays are both going to be really good in the coming years, no matter what the Yankees and Red Sox do.  This isn't the NL West, where there is only one good team each season -- it's the AL East, where you can hardly make any mistakes in building your team if you want to have any hopes of success.

The Verdict
Ultimately, the Orioles are a total lock to come last in their division this season, and they don't even have a  tunnel to have any light at the end of.  The team is bad, the farm system is bad, and if I had to guess, I'd say their scouts and staff are terrible as well.  That is a lethal combination if you ever feel like competing in this division.

They should be shedding payroll, instead of paying $90MM to come in last place.  There are moveable pieces in Jones, Markakis, JJ Hardy, Matt Weiters, and Jim Johnson that could be turned in to prospects.  Most of those guys aren't really elite players, and won't really fetch giant hauls of prospects in trades (save for Weiters), but there is absolutely no reason not to move everyone and focus on building some good internal prospect depth.  Either that, or move to a new division.

Projected Finish: 5th in the AL East.  61-101


Wanna work for the Jays?  Check it out.  Speaking of things going on on the Jays homepage, there appeared to be some video announcement going on this morning, but that turned out to be an error stemming from the new jerseys announcement like a month ago or whatever.

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.
JP: I think it's the best system in baseball.
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".

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.
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.
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.

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.
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 answers with Matt Dean, whom the Jays picked in the 13th round do to signability issues.
KG: Classic 3B profile... really good hitter, he'll hit for power, but athletic and strong.
JP: And he stays at third [as in he's athletic enough that he won't necessarily have to move to the outfield]
 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.
 Fangraphs has more Morrow stuff.

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.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Prospecty Stuff, mostly.

I'm tired and hungry and kind of cold.  There's no time for the usual small talk, so let's just get right in to it.

First off, that guy in the picture up there is Travis d'Arnaud.  I present you him, because he's the only Jay to make the MLB's top 50 prospects in Baseball list, which was unveiled on MLB.com and the MLB network last night.  I no longer see this being available in video form, but here is a written-word link to that top 100 prospects.  Included in the back half of that are three more Blue Jays: Anthony Gose (57), Jake Marisnick (58) and Noah Syndergaard (95).

Speaking of Jays prospects, Kevin Goldstein of Baseballprospectus.com released his top 20 Jays prospects today, with scouting reports on the top 11, plus 9 more names and a sleeper.  He also includes his top 10 players under 25 in the organization.  He calls it his "Top 11" but includes 21 names...  Let's not forget, when reading this, that the Jays have a very deep system, and a lot of the names that aren't mentioned here were drafted out of highschool, and were given over-slot bonuses due to upside.

The Red Sox and Rangers are believed to be in on Roy Oswalt, still.  Here's the thing though: The Rangers don't really need him, given their pitching depth (Ogando to the bullpen?  Come on...), and the Red Sox appear to have offered him just $5MM.  NOW can we try to sign Oswalt?  I mean, if Francisco Cordero is worth $4.5MM, surely the Jays can beat the suddenly-cash-strapped Red Sox' offer of $5MM for a fucking starter.

The Prince Fielder signing became official today, and it will probably have a lot of bearing on Joey Votto's contract negotiations after next (2013) season.  Basically, if the Jays are going to want Votto, they're going to need to pony up Fielder money, and then some.  If Votto were a free agent this year, there is little doubt that he'd have found a better contract than what Fielder got, but since Votto will be 30 at that time, I think something in the same range as what Fielder got seems fair-ish.  I say this without having read MLBTR's recent post about Votto being a candidate for a contract extension.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Free Agent Frenzy Hangover

What a boring day.  After the virtual smorgasbord of shit that happened yesterday, I suppose it's unreasonable of me to assume that other stuff would go down.  Still, the Fielder signing kind of opens the market for guys like Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, etc. to establish themselves as the best free agents remaining, plus the Cordero deal should pretty much allow any other relievers to find themselves deals as secondary prizes to everyone who missed out.

Having said that, there was a few little droplets of news today.  The first and foremost of which is my newest at Nowhere Plans about what the Prince Fielder signing does to the Tigers going forward.

The Rays appear pretty close to signing Jeff Keppinger to deal.  He'll presumably platoon with Matt Joyce, getting most of his AB's against lefty pitchers.  He was non-tendered this offseason by the Giants, for some reason, despite a career .324/.371/.481 slash against lefty pitching.

Yoenis Cespedes was granted free agency today, and is free to negotiate with any team who is interested in a 26-year old, marginal defence outfielder who will need minor league seasoning.

The Jays have yet to officially announce the Francisco Cordero signing, since he needs to pass a physical.  As such, they haven't yet announced a corresponding move to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.  I assume AA is looking at a trade of some sort, as opposed to a DFA that allows another team to squeeze an asset away for free.  Fangraphs has a little preview of Toronto Cordero, by the way.

The MLB Network is going to be announcing their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball tonight at 10 ET.  This, of course, doesn't really mean a whole lot, since prospects fizzle out all the time, but that's ok, it's still fun.  And hey, the Jays system is awesome!  Expect at least a couple of Blue Jays on there.

There are 3 fucking idiots on Dragon's Den right now who gave mo-hawks to cats and dogs.  Some people can just go jump in a fucking deep fryer.  It's a fucking cat, not a toy.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Free Agent Frenzy!

Man, this offseason is really picking up.  Prince Fielder has signed with Mystery Team The Detroit Tigers for 9 years, and $214MM, which is pretty much Albert Pujols money.  Jesus Christ.  Is anybody still upset that the Jays didn't pony up the cash to sign this guy now?  Because if that's what it cost to sign him without a market, anybody who was suggesting a 1-year deal, much less a 5-year deal, can quietly put their head down and slump their way to the fuck-off department.

I'll probably have a look-see at just what this means for the Tigers going forward tomorrow, and it will more than likely be on Nowhere Plans, but here's a hint: defense apparently doesn't matter in Detroit.  Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez are all virtually DH's at this stage of their careers, and while Martinez is injured and probably out for 2012, and only under contract until 2013, Cabrera and Fielder aren't exactly built for the longterm.

Elsewhere, the Jays have signed Francisco Cordero to a 1 year contract worth $4.5MM.  I, for one, am not thrilled about this one, especially at the price and lack of option.  Cordero put up 37 saves last year, and had an ERA in the mid-2's, but only had a 2:1ish K:BB ratio, and a 4.02 FIP/4.14 xFIP/3.93 SIERA/0.1 WAR.  A .212 babip and 82% LOB rate are both unsustainably amazing.  Hopefully he has a good first half and gets traded for absolutely anything, but yeesh, this could get ugly folks, especially in this division.

The signing clogs up an already pretty busy bullpen.  Beyond Cordero, Sergio Santos, Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor and Casey Janssen are all essentially guaranteed spots, and Carlos Villanueva seems pretty likely to have one as well.  This should leave the final spot as a race between Jesse Litsch and Luis Perez, and since Perez is a lefty, Jesse Litsch is probably going to be the odd-man out.  Of course, there are guys like Joel Carreno, Chad Beck, Danny Farhquar, and Trystan Magnusson kind of hanging around in the minors, though they're all quite young, still have options left on their contracts, and have yet to really prove themselves in the majors.

The Jays will need to find a spot on the 40-man roster for when the Cordero deal becomes official.  Barring some secret surgery that sends someone to the 60-day DL, someone is going to have to be DFA'ed or traded to make room.  The aforementioned Beck, Magnusson, or Farquhar could all be candidates.  I suppose that Mike Mccoy or Luis Valbuena are candidates as well.

Yoenis Cespedes has apparently secured residency in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico or something like that, which will allow him to become a free agent fairly soon.  He's expected to be signed to a deal that rivals Aroldis Chapman's 6 year, $30.25MM deal.

Apparently Alex Anthopoulos is on the FAN 590 right now.

Morrow Extension is Official, Stuff

Image Courtesy of Shi Davidi's Twitter
The Jays have officially announced the contract extension of Brandon Morrow.  He'll make $4MM this season, and $8MM in 2013 and 14.  The deal comes with a club option for 2015 at $10MM, with a $1MM buyout, guaranteeing Morrow $21MM total, and up to $30MM.  It appears that both Morrow and Jays Manager John Farrell were on the Fan 590 at some point today, and Mike Cormack of Sportsnet has been tweeting a bunch of little quotes and stuff.  I'll try to find an audio link later, but as of now, I can't find anything.

Fangraphs looks in on what to expect from Morrow this year, and looks at his curiously high ERA, despite such awesome peripherals.

Also on Fangraphs, Marc Hulet checks in with his top 15 Blue Jays prospects, and I was a bit surprised to see who ranked where in his top 5.  It should be no big surprise, however, that he really praises AA's commitment to scouting and claims that such a commitment has begun to show in the quality of this system.  If memory serves me correctly, he usually does these prospect lists in reverse order, as in from worst to best, but this doesn't appear to be the case this year.  Check the comments for some interested feedback.

New Astro's GM Jeff Luhnow is on twitter right now answering random questions from people.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Breaking News: Brandon Morrow Close to Extension with the Jays

The Blue Jays and SP Brandon Morrow appear to be nearing a 3 year extension, worth $20MM, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The deal contains a club option for a 4th year worth $10MM, and a $1MM buyout.  MLBTR looked at Morrow as an extension candidate during last season, and practically every Jays writer suggested the same at one point or another over the last year.  Expect an announcement toMorrow (see that?).  The deal will cover both of Morrow's remaining arbitration years, plus his first free agent season. The option obviously covers the second one.  Based on current trends in $/WAR and inflation, he'll only need to be worth something like 1.7WAR in 2015 to justify that option.

Morrow was worth 3.4 fWAR last year, putting up a 3.64 FIP and a 3.53 xFIP, despite an unusually high ERA.  His 10.2k/9ip was tops among qualifying AL starters.  Basically what I'm getting at here is that Morrow is a pretty good pitcher and hasn't really seen the appropriate results based on his talent and peripheral numbers.

I'm glad this happened now, instead of after the season, when Morrow crushes everybody and becomes instantly more valuable.

Elsewhere, the Jays have signed soon-to-be 45-year old SS Omar Vizquel, presumably as a depth move to protect for Lawrie/Johnson/Escobar instead of needing to rely on the slightly worse and also right-handed Mike Mccoy.  Poor guy is just going to be a lifetime AAAA player.

Looks like the Jays tried to acquire Koji Uehara last year, but Uehara veto'ed the deal.

Finally, MLBTR also reports that the Jays are looking in on Francisco Cordero.  I'd rather stay away, but that's just because I'm assuming a $7MM pricetag.

Brief Blast of Stuff

John Sickels of minorleagueball.com lists the Blue Jays farm system as the best in baseball, with 8 B+ prospects, and outstanding depth behind them.  The Royals and Rays are down in 6th and 7th respectively, mostly because a lot of their farm depth from last year has moved on to the majors (Hosmer, Giavotella, Moore).  The Padres trade activity this winter has them at number two.  Sickels explains that he doesn't much care for setting specific rankings, so I don't really understand why he doesn't just set them in to tiers or levels of "awesome", "good", "meh", "bad" and "White Sox".  Fangraphs should have a similar ranking up soonish, assuming they do what they typically do.

The Boston Red Sox gave up a 2.5WAR SS in exchange for a below-replacement level pitcher the other day, for some reason.  It appears that they're going to try and get another starting pitcher off the free agent market, but this still seems kind of stupid to me, especially since they already traded Jed Lowrie.  I'm shocked that Clayton Mortenson was the best the Red Sox could do, to be honest.  Baseballthinkfactory's take is here.

Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion is a free agent now, and the Jays are apparently interested.

Dan Patrick of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or something like that tells us that Ryan Braun may be innocent.  And I may get to the majors someday.

Finally, this is a cool video showing the view of the strike zone from the umpire's perspective.  I remember a few years ago where catchers had helmet cams going on, but that's a thing of the past apparently.

The Fantasy Drafter-- MLB '11 The Show


  • This game is pretty realistic in terms of just how intensive the details are.  There are an awful lot of things that you have to take care of (i.e. ticket prices, concessions, training, etc.) but you really only ever have to do that for like 2 seasons until everything is maxed and so on.
  • Advanced pitching and hitting mechanics.
  • Advanced data in terms of splits, hot zones, etc. (no parks factors though).
  • The computer will make some really ridiculous trades, especially in the offseason, to the point where you pretty much have to turn off computer trades.  A lot of deals will happen where it's just a 1-for-1 where two starting pitchers get traded.  I remember looking through a set of trades one time and it was something like Lester for Lincecum, then Buchholz for Lester, then Lackey for Buchholz or something retarded like that.
  • If you got 5 or 6 years in to the future, teams that are bad right now don't get better.  The Jays just toil in 4th forever and don't really ever finish the rebuild, instead trading Bautista for a lesser 3b, Escobar for a lesser SS, Romero for a lesser SP, etc.  Part of this is because players who aren't on the 40-man roster (in real life) aren't in the game (unless you download a custom roster), so basically all teams have equal farm systems.
  • The AI still kind of sucks, in terms of building teams.  I remember seeing a National League team that had both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, and thus had one of them sitting on the bench as a pinch hitter.
I've killed an awful lot of time over the last year or so playing this game.  It has a pretty good franchise mode, but Road to the Show is also quite well-done, save for a few nitpicks.  I'd go ahead and pick up the '12 version when it comes out soon.

I randomly picked the Padres to be my team of choice, despite my hatred of the no-DH policy.  They have a lower-than-average payroll capability, so we definitely have to keep that in mind while we're drafting.  The draft order is random, so I ended up with the 5th overall selection, which is fairly good, though it snakes backwards, so we don't pick until the 56th overall pick after that.  If you want a nice challenge, pick someone like the Rays or A's and keep your payroll low for a few years.  Payroll can be turned off, however, if you really feel like doing that.  I'd much rather draft some slightly inferior players with upside for cheap, controllable terms.

We won't be drafting relief pitchers (with a brief exception).  Instead, we'll be drafting young, controllable starters to fill out entire pitching staff, at least until we get to the AAA portion of the draft.  You can edit players to convert them to relievers (which also happens to drive the price down in their contract negotiations).  They can be starters later when your current batch of starters gets expensive and leave.

Round 1- Evan Longoria, 3B.
I think this is a pretty easy pick, considering he's the only player in the top 15 or so picks that offers awesomeness at a low price.  You have him signed for 3 years at $2.7MM, plus a final arbitration year available after that expires.  Everyone else in the top 15 are at $15+MM.  He's also 25, the youngest one.

Round 2- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF.
Ellsbury still has 3 years of team control, and it only 27.  Typically I'd grab a pitcher here, but there were only older/expensive guys at the top here, plus I draft again in like 9 picks. Roy Oswalt and Jake Peavy went immediately after this pick, but the guy I really wanted stuck around, though I missed out on 5 years of control of Jason Heyward.

Round 3- Mat Latos, SP.
I was looking at Cole Hamels, but Kershaw, Latos, Gallardo, (Daniel) Hudson and Strasburg were all available to me as well, and I'd like at least two of them. At 23, 22, 23, 25, and 22 respectively, there's a lot of cheapened team control of all of those guys.  Ultimately, Latos is the highest rated (barely) and is cheaper for longer than Kershaw.  All of the above mentioned were drafted between my two picks.

Round 4- Max Scherzer, SP.
4 years of control and 26 years old.  Thought about grabbing Andrew Mccutcheon and video-gaming him in to either LF or RF, but ultimately wanted another pitcher so that I wasn't going to be stuck with Joel Piniero or whatever.

Round 5- Andrew Mccutchen, OF.
Ricky Romero is currently the 11th highest ranked starter available, but is also younger than each of those above, and has 4 years of cost certainty attached to him.  I'm hoping that because so many people are ranked above him in terms of skills or whatever, they'll overpay for Derek Lowe or one year of Hiroki Kuroda instead of 4 years of Romero.  Cutch and Ellsbury will play CF and (hopefully) LF, due to who I'm going to get to play RF in a few rounds.

Round 6- Billy Butler, 1B.
Romero went and I'm sad.  Butler has 4 years on his contract and is 24. Easy game.

Round 7- Michael Stanton, RF.
Hope Jeremy Hellickson lasts.  Stanton is the steal of this draft, at 21 years old.  He's one of those pre-arb guys that you have to extend in your first offseason, instead of going year-to-year with him.

Round 8- Jhoulys Chacin, SP.
We just missed Jeremy Hellickson.  Hellickson is 23 and a rookie, which is great fun if you can get control of it, but Gio Gonzalez and Jhoulys Chacin were both still there.  The debate is cost and control vs. upside: Gio is 25 and will be a super-2, Chacin is 23 with a lower upside, but is cheaper now and going forward.  If you're playing with Tampa, get Chacin, if you're playing with Boston, get Gio.  Ultimately, I preferred the cost-control of Jhoulys. (See round 11)

Round 9- Pablo Sandoval, 3B/C
Daniel Bard is available and kind of interesting, since he's 25 and already a nutso reliever.  Pablo Sandoval can catch, if needed (though Matt Weiters is still there, among a few others).  Starlin Castro is 20 years old and a SS, and Gio Gonzalez is still available.  I feel like any of those names are safe and good to go.  Use scarcity as a tie-breaker.  There are a lot of #2-3 SP's available, so I'm going to went with a position player.  Check 2B and SS at the same time when evaluating scarcity.

Round 10- Alcides Escobar, SS
Just following the formula of young, controllable guys.

Round 11- Gio Gonzalez, SP.
Gio is still there, available on a min-salary.

Round 12- Brian Matusz, SP.
Still need a 2B (or another shortstop), some pitchers, and some bench bats.  Todd Helton, David Ortiz, and JIMMERS are all still available, and really cheap, for some reason.  I considered Rick Porcello, Brandon Morrow, Wade Davis, Tyler Clippard, and guys like Reid Brignac or Marco Scutaro to fill in at short.  Porcello is going to be a super-2, and therefore more expensive despite being 22 years old.  Mike Leake and Jon Niese are still kicking around too, and since most teams have filled in their rotations, they might stick around for a while longer during the bench/bullpen stage of the draft.

Round 13- Marco Scutaro, SS/2B
A lot of 2b/SS types went between my Matusz pick and now, so it was a little too scarce in terms of filling the  everyday lineup's last spot.  We're gonna go crazy with pitchers now, probably.

Round 14- Wade Davis, P.
Ugh, just looking around... Brett Gardner is still available.  As an NL team, I won't have enough AB's for him though.  His attributes aren't that good, but he plays fine in terms of defense/speed/contact/walks, so he's wildly underrated.  I'll hope to score him for a bench bat later, but we gotta get pitchers.  Anyway, Davis will be a bullpen arm, probably.

Round 15- Kyle Drabek, P.
Round 16- Mike Minor, P.
Round 17- Derek Holland, P
Round 18- Travis Wood, P.
Everyone is grabbing pitchers now.  Fill your boots.  Probably need about 13 guys that you can make a rotation out of.  Conversely, if you have a lot of pitching, go grab some guys with "A" potential under positions, because you can always fill your bench later.

Round 19- Brett Gardner, OF.
Round 20- Devin Mesoraco, C.
Round 21- Kenley Jansen, P
Round 22- Jim Thome, Bench bat.

Basically, from hereon in, just grab guys with "A" potential to fill your minor leagues and MLB bench.  Pay attention to ages.  There is the odd guy you can find (Octavio Dotel) who will be on a 1-year deal, where you can get a Type-B free agent/Draft pick out of it.  If you can win enough games and sell a lot of tickets, you'll be able to do enough scouting and find someone who might be halfway useful to you down the road.  Look around though, because I got Desmond Jennings in round 26.

Extend all your young guys in your first offseason.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

2012 Toronto Blue Jays ZiPS projections

ZiPS projections are out for the 2012 edition of the Blue Jays.  Those can be found here.  These are computer generated, so I can forgive the light projections (in my opinion, at least) on guys like Lawrie and Arencibia, who don't have big samples of MLB playing time.  They usually need a little bit of tinkering to adjust for stuff like playing time and whatnot.  We'll go through some of the major league projections quickly.

Jose Bautista: .273 .408 .566
I can't really blame Bautista this year if he takes a step back, but if the last two years are worth anything, he probably won't.  I'd expect the batting average to be higher, but with his low-babip 2010 and low-skill, pre-August-2009 numbers in the picture, I can understand where the projection is coming from.  Again, computer-generated... I expect more games than the 136 they have there, and an OBP higher than that .408.  Not necessarily the .447 he did this season.  36 HR's looks about right, I suppose, based on the way people pitch him.

Brett Lawrie: .275 .333 .498
It's tough, given his style of play and 43 game sample size.  I feel like the walks (and therefore OBP) projection should be higher, but what do I know.  I don't think this is terribly far from what we should expect assuming he gets 148 games.  10 triples sounds outrageous to me.

Adam Lind: .264 .315 .466
Fingers crossed, but this one seems a bit ambitious.  He either gets fewer PA's vs. LHP, or just does worse than this unless he completely mashes against RHP.  Having said that, he was probably pressing a bit in the second half of last year, and was apparently playing hurt-ish, so who knows.  Dude's gotta learn to take a walk.

Kelly Johnson: .242 .323 .434
I feel like this is just some kind of midpoint between the two types of seasons he's had.  He's either hitting .220-ish or .280-ish, though the walkrate tends to stay right around the same, so I'd expect the OBP to be a bit higher if the BA is .242.

JP Arencibia: .229 .281 .442
There's no statistical or empirical evidence that can really explain it, but I'm certain the Jays are going to want JP's patience at the plate to improve.  Beyond that, he had a babip of .255, so I think we can expect a better average and OBP.  How much higher, I can't really say, since I don't know exactly how much a 20 point boost in babip helps.

Ricky Romero
Ricky was probably a bit lucky last year, outperforming his fip and xfip by big margins.  They expect a 3.72 ERA, which is probably right around fair, maybe a bit high.  He had an unusually low babip and an elevated strand rate, with all other numbers being pretty consistent with his career averages (walks came down a bit).

Brandon Morrow
Things keep going in the right direction for Morrow in terms for k's and bb's, but I think there's some work that needs to be done from the stretch.  They project a 4.12 ERA, which is quite a bit higher than his fip and xfip from each of the last two seasons.  I'd take the under on the ERA, but slightly.

Brett Cecil
They have him as a 5 ERA over 170 innings.  I honestly feel like if he's putting up anything near a 5 ERA after the first 5-6 weeks of the season, they'll just send him to the bullpen for good and let someone else have a shot at starting/make a trade.

They also have nasty looking numbers for Litsch, Drabek and Luis Perez, though I can't see any of those projections being anywhere close.  If Drabek pitches from the rotation, he'll be better than that or sent to the minors, while Litsch and Perez will be bullpen arms.  It kind of stinks that there aren't any projections for the SP prospects who are kind of close, i.e. Drew Hutchison or Deck Mcguire, who should be part of the team in 2012 at some point barring injury or performance issues.

The bullpen gets some pretty strong projections, with Frasor, Oliver, Janssen and Santos all coming in at better than league average, striking about 8+/9ip, and keeping walks down.  Villanueva's projections are probably skewed a bit due to his starts last season, so you can expect better than those if he remains in the bullpen fulltime.

They include some fun little comparables at the bottom, which should make for some fun time-killing on baseball-reference.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Beeston Speaks, Fanbase Freaks

So Paul Beeston was on Sportsnet radio with Jeff Blair yesterday or today or something (audio here).  And my god, did people lose their shit about payroll again, or what?  Seriously folks...

Before I get in to what Beeston said, I want to address a perfect example of that shit-losing: Gregg Zaun was on PTS with Mccown and Blair (video) at some point recently, and all I really got out of it was a whole bunch of bad attitude that I'd have been sent to my room for as a child.  He said that he'd go ahead and sign Fielder now, since that kind of talent doesn't just make itself available every year, which is fair, I suppose, but again, kind of misses the point.

The Jays didn't really have a problem scoring runs last year, and that was with the OBP sinkholes of Corey Patterson and Aaron Hill taking up valuable spots at the top of the order, so combining that elimination with full seasons from KJ, Lawrie, Rasmus.....  Zaun also sounds like he's ready to give up on Travis Snider and tell Eric Thames to go fuck off, claiming that Lind should be in LF everyday, in the same breath as saying that Lind couldn't physically handle the least strenuous position in baseball, and that "he's a hitter, not a fielder", despite taking like 2 walks in the second half of the season (ohhh, he's a hitter, not a walker).  Give me a fucking break.

Anyway, some of the things Beeston said weren't exactly forthcoming and on par with some of AA's comments of recent months, especially stuff about the plan going forward for this team and payroll.  Seriously, if people would just listen to them (them, in this case being AA and Beest) when they actually do speak to the media and read between the lines, they might finally understand that the Jays' current business model doesn't appear to be "Go out there and buy a team".  Well listen, people: they clearly don't want to pay out the ass and buy a team who can contend for 3 years, only to turn in to the [insert team who contends for three years, only to have an absurd payroll and a team full of losers for the next 5 White Sox].  The Jays aren't going to go out there and outspend the Red Sox and Yankees, so they need to find another way.  The Rays figured it out, and all it took was a brilliant GM, some draft picks/improved scouting and farm system, and a few years of patience. *Gasp*, we have some of those things!  And the Rays can only afford to pay their guys $45MM, whereas the Jays can double that in their sleep, if necessary.

Now, I didn't think it was really all that bad, but apparently there's been some outrage at the lack of "big move" with regards to the Jays' offseason.  I'm thinking that maybe it's been a long offseason, combined with the Leafs and Canadians both being out of playoff contention right now (right?), and people are getting pissy or something, but it just kind of snowballed overnight to the point where all of the twitter jumblings are just vitriol in the direction of Jays management.  One of the things Beeston kept repeating on that interview with Blair was that fans just constantly want a "fast-forward", Beeston included, but they just feel like it doesn't make sense, because THEY WANT A SUSTAINABLE FUCKING PRODUCT THAT CAN HANDLE OTHER TEAMS SIGNING IMPACT FREE AGENTS TO INEFFICIENT CONTRACTS.

Basically, if I can sum up my thoughts on the Beeston interview as quickly and succinctly as possible, it would be as such: Fuck off, we still don't talk to the media about anything important, we don't like 6 year free agent contracts because players peak before they become FA's, and have some patience, because we're going to be awesome from 2013 through 2021.  The 3-year window will be followed by two more 3-year windows.

From Keith Law's chat today:
Bill (Toronto): As a frustrated Jays fan I ask your opinion, does Alex Anthopolous's lack of significant movement this offseason lead you to believe he believes in the core group on this team, or is he hamstrung from making significant moves by Rogers Cable?
Klaw  (2:10 PM): I don't get the idea that he should have made moves just to make them. The guy is a value whore. If he can make his club better, he will do so. I don't think he's seen great value this offseason, except the deal he did make for Santos, which everyone I've talked to in the business thought was a steal for Toronto.
So yeah, he makes his moves whenever he sees them, not whenever 300-pounders are free agents.

Fausto Carmona isn't really Fausto Carmona, according to Domincan authorities, and I would hazard a guess that he isn't really 28 years old, based on that information (as I was searching for the link that I originally read that on, I found this).  It seems unlikely that he'll be available to start the season in terms of work Visa's and whatnot.  Leo Nunez has found himself in a similar situation towards the end of this past season.

The Jays have signed Nelson Figueroa to a minor league deal.  He was dogshit with the Astro's last season before being released, so uhh... three cheers for depth moves!  Speaking of which, the Indians have signed both Jeremy Accardo and Fred Lewis to minor league deals.  Both are formerly Blue Jays and kind of useful, but it's been a while for both.

Bruce Arthur of the National Post had a similar rant to mine this morning/last night, but I'm pretty sure this was before the Zaun/Beeston stuff.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wednesday Stuff

Not much today... again.

I guess I forgot to write about the Seth Smith trade from the other day, so we can start with that.  The Rockies moved Seth Smith to the Oakland A's for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman.  Smith had a ton of rumors circulating his head at the start of the offseason, and it seemed like a lot of people were interested, but that couldn't have been the case, since the Rockies got two mediocre, fly-ball heavy starting-ish pitchers for him.  I can't imagine either to do much in Colorado, especially with that ballpark, but hey, sometimes you have to give up a platoon-OF in order to get your 9th and 10th starters.  This is probably a steal for Billy Beane.

Brandon Morrow and Casey Janssen couldn't reach an agreement with the Jays before yesterday's deadline, as I've already reported.  If you're following me on twitter (@alexgrady80), you would have noticed that I retweeted the initial reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTR that Brandon Morrow submitted $4.2MM, while the Jays submitted $3.9MM, and that Casey Janssen submitted $2.2MM, while the Jays offered $1.8MM.  The relatively small discrepancies between the salaries should mean that the Jays will be able to avoid hearings, though AA has a policy that he'll only do multi-year deals after the arbitration submission deadline.  Multi-year deals, in this case, include 1-year deals with options, such as the one Jason Frasor signed before last season.

The Rangers and Yu Darvish have until 5PM ET today to finalize a deal.  It appears that the two sides are close to agreeing to a 6-year deal, presumably in the $55-60MM range.  Dice-K signed for 6/$52MM, which sets a nice precedent.

Jack Cust found a major league deal with the Houston Astros yesterday, which I find pretty funny.  It was rumored to be a 2-year deal, which almost broke the internet, but that was later revealed to be 1 year, $600k, non-guaranteed, with a club option.  Cust is, of course, really terrible now, after showing some extreme Wily-Mo Pena skills a few years ago.

The Chicago Cubs-Boston Red Sox-Theo Epstein thing is still going on, apparently.  Bud Selig has been handed the reins there, in terms of figuring out how the Red Sox should be compensated.  Here's an idea: work that shit out beforehand.

Finally, former Jay Jesse Barfield can apparently tell if you're on steroids or not, based solely on your throwing arm.  Whatever you say.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Little Things to Overreact About

Ok, so, I thought that tomorrow was the deadline for players to file for arbitration, but it turns out that the actual deadline was today at like 2 or 3PM or something.  As result, there were an incredible amount of people who avoiding arbitration with 1-year deals today, and naturally, a few who didn't come to terms with their clubs yet.  Some teams treat this date as a deadline, and I'm pretty sure AA/the Jays are one of them to an extent.  Any remaining deals will be either multi-year, 1-year with options, or figured out through hearings.

In terms of Blue Jays, Ben Francisco, Kelly Johnson, and Carlos Villanueva all found deals with the Jays and had no need to file their arb numbers.  Brandon Morrow and Casey Janssen, however, couldn't find any common ground, and have both filed.  Contrary to the opinion of dumb people on twitter, this doesn't make Janssen and Morrow free agents, it just means that the team viewed $X as a fair deal, and the player found $Y fair, and the gap between X and Y was just too wide to make a deal today, which is the exact point of the arbitration system.  Janssen and Morrow will now either go to arbitration, or sign a multi-year deal/1-year deal with (an) option(s) before their hearings.  Hearings take place between Feb 1 and Feb 21 this year.  As a frame of reference, only 3 people went to hearings last year.  Jose Bautista was about to, but signed a 5-year extension instead.

MLBTR looked at Morrow at some point this summer as an extension candidate (3/$20+options for 2 arb years and FA year#1), and I'd expect Janssen to get something like 1 year with a player option or two years with a club option.

As far as the signings today, Kelly Johnson got a really small raise on his 2011 salary, agreeing to 1y/$6.35MM.  That's a pretty good deal based on any precedent ever, but some people still found a way to complain about that one.  Carlos Villanueva signed for $2.2775MM, and Ben Francisco got $1.5375MM.  Of course, Colby Rasmus agreed to $2.7MM the other day, and Jesse Litsch and Dustin Mcgowan agreed earlier this week as well.

Elsewhere, Victor Martinez is going to undergo a surgery to repair a torn MCL (or ACL?), which will effectively end his 2012 season.  I assume every agent for remaining OF/DH's is contacting the Tigers, but I kind of half expect them to just fill that void from within.  Dave Cameron from Fangraphs points out that Casey Kotchmann and V-Mart had very, very similar seasons last year, but that doesn't really take in to account any other year.  At least I don't think it does.  Martinez isn't anything special anymore though... probably league average or so.

47 minutes ago, Shi Davidi tweeted that there will be a resolution to the Mark Teahen situation "in an hour or so."  Teahen was DFA'ed last week, and is probably being either traded with cash for nothing or released.  I'll keep that one up to date as I write the rest of this though.  Naturally, I could just edit this whole paragraph out once I find out what happens, but sometimes (read: always) I write as if I'm having a conversation with people.

[Update-] Unconditional release.  The Jays will still pay Teahen the $5.5MM owed to him, which is a fancy way of paying the Chicago White Sox $5.5MM for the Edwin Jackson trade from last season.  Tell me they're not spending money now...  If someone signs Teahen, they will be responsible for the pro-rated amount of the league-minimum, and the Jays will be responsible for the rest.

The D-Backs have re-signed Joe Saunders for 1 year and $6MM.  I could have sworn that there was a two-year deal on the table for him earlier in the offseason, but you'll have to forgive me for not giving enough shits about that to look it up.  Because I'm giving no shits.  In fact, I might even take one, and not look that up during.  I'd rather Sporcle.  The Arizona offseason just keeps getting better and better.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Anthopoulos Feeling the Slack!

Hey, has anyone read the Cathal Kelly piece in the Toronto Star?  Don't, unless you're ready for a good laugh.  Here it is, if you do want a laugh, but also because I'm going to make fun of it because of how retarded it is and you need a point of reference.  He begins:
Whenever a general manager is hired, a figurative collar is attached to his neck and a length of rope is strung out behind him.  Eventually, the slack in that rope gets used up — by losses and bad contracts and missed deals and the simple passage of time. Then the collar begins to tighten.  For the first time in his nearly 2 ½ years as GM of the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos has begun to feel the tugging.
I would guess that he hasn't, but go on.

Anthopoulos arrived with an unusual amount of rope to spare, some of it due to the ill-tempered flame-out of his predecessor and most of it to do with a sharp contrast in personal style from one man to the next.
But he's run out of it... except that all he's done since he's gotten the job is make excellent trades, keep spending down, etc, which Kelly explains over the next 4 paragraphs, delving in to the Vernon Wells heist, and changing the Jays farm system in to a top-3 system in the game.  Kelly omits items such as locking up Jose Bautista to an incredibly team-friendly deal, extending Ricky Romero, signing a couple of "impossible-to-sign" draft picks, and acquiring a potentially top-shelf CF in exchange for a package centered around a mid-relief pitcher and 2 months of someone else's starter.
 If things begin going sideways — and they certainly haven’t yet — we will trace the first moments of unease to the winter meetings in Dallas. That was where he first referred to the ominous spectre of “payroll parameters,” subsequently amended to payroll “boundaries.” Whatever that actually means, it translates in the booster’s ear to, ‘We don’t have a whole lot of money to spend.’
As in "we're not going to be fucking retarded and spend money with wreckless abandon".

Fairly or not, the emotional bungee jump of the Yu Darvish posting further whittled away the supply of blind faith on offer. Again, from a communications standpoint, it was a disaster. If the club had any doubts about winning the Japanese pitcher, they shouldn’t have allowed the opposite storyline to dominate in the days beforehand.

There is still a great deal of slack in Anthopoulos’ rope. He earned it with the Wells deal and by stealing closer Sergio Santos from under the noses of 28 other teams this winter.
Which is it man?  If there's no slack left, he's feeling the tug; if there's "a great deal" of slack left, he's not feeling the tug.  If you don't know what "slack" is, stop using that fucking analogy.  Just admit that you didn't have dick-all to write about today when you came in to work, since you wasted your whole weekend doing god knows what instead of coming up with someone that's an actual story.

But while the Yankees have armoured over their only weak spot with the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, this year’s Jays look ominously like last year’s Jays
No it doesn't. The Jays obviously didn't have an impact bat that they were willing to move for Pineda, or they probably would have given it a shot.  Beyond that:

  1. Corey Patterson
  2. Juan Rivera
  3. Aaron Hill
  4. Jojo Reyes
  5. Jon Rauch
  6. Frank Francisco
  7. Jayson Nix
  8. John Mcdonald
  9. Jose Molina
  10. Mark Teahen
are all players who are no longer with the team.  Of that list, only FF and Jose Molina posted a positive WAR during their tenures (I didn't look this up, but if I'm wrong, it's only barely).  Replace that bunch with Brett Lawrie, Kelly Johnson, Colby Rasmus, Sergio Santos, and randoms like Ben Francisco.  It only looks "ominously like" last years team because all of the good players, plus Adam Lind and Jesse Litsch, are still here.
This storyline can be turned back toward the positive overnight. Anthopoulos is far too able to be blamed for the tight fists of his corporate employers. 
It wouldn't be negative at all if you didn't write this stupid fucking piece based on absolutely nothing.  Give him a fucking break.  It takes more than 20 minutes to turn a bad team in to a good one.

Weekend Round-up Stuff

Man, everything is such a stretch to be called news at this time of year.  Most teams are all set, with the odd exception of a position battle or minor league depth, and the major free agents that are still out there have already been written about so much that it's too hard to believe anything that we hear is true.  Nobody seems to be jumping out to sign Roy Oswalt, despite the fact that he's too perfect a fit for the Blue Jays for it not to happen, especially now that he's only looking for a 1-year deal.  I might make a full post out of that in a day or two if nothing newsworthy happens, otherwise you'll have to figure it out yourselves.  Speaking of Oswalt, the Red Sox are interested, but would apparently have to move payroll around to get him signed at that price, which should make him even more attractive to the Jays, in my opinion.

The only thing that ever really happens at this time of year, and it's not all that important to be quite honest, is a bunch of guys across the league agreeing to 1-year deals in order to avoid going to arbitration.  Colby Rasmus agreed to a 1-year deal worth $2.7MM yesterday, for example.  It's probably a slight overpay, based on MLBTR's projection model, which had Rasmus pegged at $2.3MM, but meh.  The Jays haven't gone to arbitration since like 1997 or something, when Bill Risley decided to be a dick about it.  Ben Francisco, Casey Janssen, Kelly Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Carlos Villanueva remain as arbitration-eligible players without contracts.  Morrow projects at $4.2MM and is an extension candidate, and Kelly Johnson will probably earn a raise from his $6MM salary from last year.  Everybody else is looking at less than $2MM.

A few other guys around the league also avoided arbitration, such as Rick Porcello, Joel Hanrahan, and Jarred Saltalamacchia.  Once again, this isn't big news, so we'll just move right along, but expect to hear about a million of these little signings over the next week or so.  Players have until Wednesday at 11:59PM ET to file for arbitration.  Players and teams will then exchange figures with the MLBPA and the arbiters, and any necessary hearings will take place between Feb 1-21.  Expect a few extensions before and during that time period.

Sportsnet's Shi Davidi has a piece about Jays prospect Drew Hutchison, explaining how he fell to the Jays in the 15th round, due to signability concerns.  The new CBA is looking to crush this type of occurrence in the future, with strict penalties for any team who goes significantly over the intended slot, which the Jays did, offering $400k to the 460th overall selection.  In the future, the hope is that such harsh penalties will discourage players from using college as a leveraging chip, and should ensure that the best player available at the time is chosen.  Expect Hutch at some point in 2012.

RotoAuthority is back up and running.  If you're unfamiliar with rotoauthority but play fantasy baseball, I can give you a hint about why you lose at fantasy baseball every year.  RA is the fantasy baseball info site that was run by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes for a while, before MLBTR blew up.  He's hired some people to write on it consistently again, and has started with a look at the Jays LF situation.  We'll get an eyeintheskydome fantasy baseball league going at some point over the next little while I'm sure.

Finally, Fangraphs uses the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade, and by extension, the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres deals this offseason, as an excuse to evaluate the relationship between trades of young MLB-ready pitchers and the park factors.  Pineda, just like Gio, Latos, and Cahill, was probably helped a fair amount by a spacious ballpark that inflates (deflates?) pitching numbers when compared with similar pitchers in neutral or hitter-friendly environments.  Since it's so hard for teams in pitcher-friendly environments to sign power hitters, they need to trade for them.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Yankees acquire a Pinata

Arriba!  The Yankees have sent Jesus Christ Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda and prospect Jose Campos.  My initial reaction, without knowing much about Campos, or Noesi for that matter, is that Montero pretty much needs to stay at catcher for this deal to work out right for the M's.  The M's are pretty well set offensively at 1B/DH, 2B and RF, but beyond that, things are still looking pretty bleak.  If Montero can't cut it defensively at catcher, which many talent evaluators believe will be the case eventually, this trade is going to end up as a decent-sized fail.

Having said that, Montero would have to be outrageously bad defensively to overcome the defensive replacement value thingy (in terms of positional adjustments in WAR) to justify moving him from C to DH/1B, considering how good is bat is, compared not only to the league average, but also to other catchers.

Pineda represents basically what Brandon Morrow is for the Jays, but with worse mechanics and a lower walk rate.  They compare pretty well in terms of rates and stuff, but I worry that Pineda will be taking a pretty big step backwards with the change of leagues and parks.  A pitcher with his profile doesn't match up great with the AL East, not to mention the short RF porches in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.  Pineda had a 36% groundball rate last year.

I'm told Campos, if he were eligible in the draft this season as a 19 year old, would be a top-10 pick, and shows tremendous upside.  His numbers in Rookie-ball and low-A are pretty astonishing for someone so young, but he's still quite a ways away from the majors, whereas Hector Noesi will almost certainly be in the majors at the start of the season, though he might not amount to a ton over his career (Safeco should help him out though).

The always reliable (and now cancer-free!) Dave Cameron from Fangraphs reviews the deal, and gives us this little reminder:
Maybe Montero’s good enough by himself to justify being the sole piece of value, but based on what other teams were paying for good young pitching this winter, I would have expected the Yankees to have to surrender a bit more than they gave up. The Yankees should not only be happy to have added a big time arm to their rotation, but should be excited that they didn’t have to decimate the farm system in order to do it.
Between the Latos and Gio deals, this begins to look like a steal for the Yankees and Brian Cashman, especially since Pineda will be under team-control through 2017. I struggle to understand why Campos was involved.

The Yankees also signed free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $10MM deal last night, in a deal that, when combined with the Pineda acquisition, really reforms the Yankees' rotation.  I think the difference between [Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Burnett, Garcia] and [Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Nova, (Hughes/Garcia/Burnett)] is pretty huge, and enough to make the Yankees a slight favorite over the Red Sox for the division as it stands right now.  Of course, we all know that the Rays are going to come from out of nowhere again and win, so whatever.  I wonder if this forces the Red Sox' hand, and makes them reach out to Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt.

By the way, Buster Olney thinks that the Pineda deal affects the Blue Jays the most, because their rotation is probably too thin to compete.  That sounds fucking stupid to me, since this trade does nothing to the Jays' rotation unless they were trying to acquire Pineda.  The rotation was probably too thin before the trade, and looks the exact same now as it did 24 hours ago, so the only way this affects the Jays is if it creates a chain reaction of acquisitions between the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees, resulting in some weird fantasy world in which the 15 best starting pitchers in baseball pitch for one of those three teams next year, which would cause the Jays to never score any runs in division play or something.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday Stuff

Not much to report today.

Alex Anthopoulos was on Sportsnet radio or Primetime Sports or something like that yesterday, but I was busy drinking.  DJF has a quick summary of that, but there wasn't really a whole lot that was noteworthy, which explains why I'm not writing a whole lot about it myself.

I only caught two real highlights from the encounter, and they were of the rosterbation variety.  First, it sounds like he really believes in Brett Cecil with a full season of Colby Rasmus behind him in CF.  He believed that they had the worst OF defense in baseball last year before the Rasmus trade (Patterson/Davis in CF, Thames in LF), and flyball pitchers (i.e. Cecil, Morrow, FrankFrank, Rauch) can't really succeed with poor OF defense. [Sidenote- If it was the D's fault, why the eff was Cecil sent down at the start of the season?]  Improved defense should lead to improved numbers for the pitching.  That means that Cecil probably won't be relegated to the bullpen, at least not yet, and the rotation, if the season were to start today, would be Romero-Morrow-Cecil-Alvarez-Mcgowan.  Having said that, asking prices for the better free agent starters still on the market is set to drop...

Secondly, based mostly on last season, Eric Thames has the upper hand for the starting job in LF over Travis Snider, but spring training and preseason will obviously play a role in the final decision on that front.

Elsewhere, my latest piece for Nowhere Plans is up.  It's about the contrast in contracts between Ryan Madson and Jonathan Papelbon, and what led to such a contrast.  I also get a little jab at the Phillies and RAJ.  Brace yourselves for some truly mind-bending photoshops.

Clay Davenport, some guy I've never heard of, tries to find equivalents between Cuban free-agent-to-be Yoenis Cespedes' Cuban league numbers and the MLB.  Apparently the Cuban League is like high-A in the states, so raw numbers look pretty outrageous, especially for a 26-year old, but Davenport still compares Cespedes to Adam Jones of the Orioles.  I'd take Adam Jones of the Orioles.  Cespedes in playing winterball in Cuba for some insane reason, and struck out thrice in his first game last night.  I'd like to point out that a 26-year who hits .244 (even with a low babip) in his 5th year of "high-A" probably isn't worth the hype, but what do I know?  I'd also like for someone from the Jays' scouting department to kidnap this Jose Abreu character, who hit .453/.597/.986 over 200-ish AB's this past season in the same league.

"Some Thoughts on Baseball" believes that the Blue Jays are the only suitor left for Prince Fielder.  Compelling, but I don't really see it happening.  I feel like Fielder's pricetag would fall in to the zone of other teams before it fell in to the Blue Jays' zone.

The Rays have signed free agent Luke Scott to a 1 year deal with an option for next year.  The deal is worth $5MM, with a $6.5MM club option.  Scott is coming off a season-ending shoulder surgery last year, but hit 27HR's the year before, and offers a good buy-low reclamation DH/1B option for the Rays, who are replacing Johnny Damon.  Fangraphs' take on Scott's move to the Trop.

Do you have a funny-ass joke for Bruce Chen to tell to the internet?

Update-- Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  MAD MEN COMES BACK MARCH 25TH.  SO FUCKING EXCITED.