Wednesday, 30 October 2013

On Gordon Beckham, and half-measures

I used to be a beat cop a long time ago, and I'd get called out on domestic disputes all the time, hundreds probably, over the years. But there was this one piece of shit that I remember, Gordie, looked like Bo Svensen, remember him?  Walking Tall?  You don't remember him? No?  Anyway, big boy-- 270-280.  But his wife... whatever-she-was lady... she was small.  Like a bird.  Brisk like little branches.  Anyway, my partner and I would get called out there every weekend, and one of us would pull her aside and say 'Come on, tonight's the night we press charges."  And this wasn't one of those 'deep down, he really loves me' setups, she was scared; she wasn't going to cross him, no way no how.  Nothing we could do but pass her off to the EMT's, put him in the car, drive him downtown, throw him in the drunk tank, he sleeps it off; next morning, out he goes, back home.
But one night, my partner's out sick; just me. Call comes in and it's the usual crap: broke her nose in the shower kind of thing.  So I cuff him, I put him in the car and away we go.  Only that night, we're driving in to town, and this sideways asshole is in my car in the backseat, humming "Danny Boy".  Hurmph.  Yeah, and it just rubbed me wrong.  So instead of left, I go right in to nowhere.  And I kneel him down, and I put my revolver in his mouth and I said "This is it.  This is how it ends."  And he's cryin', going to the bathroom all over himself, swearing to God he's gonna leave her alone, and he's screaming-- as much you can with a gun in your mouth.
I told him to be quiet, I had to think of what I was going to do here-- and of course he got quiet.  Goes still.  And real quiet.  Like a dog waiting for dinner scraps.  We just stood there for a while.  Me, acting like I'm thinking things over, and Prince Charming sitting there in the dirt with shit in his pants.
After a few minutes, I took the gun out of his mouth.  And I said "So help me, if you ever touch her again I will" such and such and such and such and blah blah blah blah blah.
[Just a warning?]
Of course.  Just trying to do the right thing.
Two weeks later, he killed her.  Of course.  Caved her head in with the base of a wearing blender.  We got there... there was so much blood, you could taste the metal.
Moral of the story is: I chose a half-measure, when I should have gone all the way.  I'll never make that mistake again.
No more half-measures, Walter.  
If you've not watched every second of Breaking Bad, you're seriously missing out, and should stop whatever you're doing right now in order to remedy that, but I'm sure you've already been told by dozens of people.  The above quote is from this scene, and this isn't a spoiler at all-- just one of the more epic lines of the entire series, delivered by arguably the best character of arguably the best show ever.

Gregor Chisolm and Scott Merkin of are reporting that the Jays are interested in Gordon Beckham, for some reason.  Beckham isn't really an upgrade over what we've got already, whether it's Maicer Izturis or Ryan Goins or Munenori Kawasaki or Mark Derosa.

I mean, he's probably slightly better than any of those guys-- I'm not entirely convinced that Izturis is actually as bad as we saw last year, but that's probably a different post for a different day-- but "slightly better" isn't anything to be overly thrilled about.  Goins probably stinks equally offensively in the future, regardless of how good he is defensively, but as of right now, he is probably the best choice to start 2014 as the main 2B of those currently in the organization.

There are plenty of guys in the league who can put up value somewhere in the area of what Beckham can do, and like three of them are already Blue Jays.  Beckham will make about $3.5MM through arbitration-- Izturis, Goins, Kawasaki and DeRosa combined will make slightly more than that.  Take in to account that the Jays would probably have to give something up to acquire Beckham, and yeah, this doesn't make any sense.

If Beckham is an upgrade over whatever's kicking around the organization-- if!-- he certainly isn't a big one, and is therefore not a respectable allocation of assets.  Gordon Beckham would be a half-measure.  No more half-measures, Walter.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Market at Second Base

I think we've beaten it to death here-- well maybe not here since I don't write anywhere nearly as much as I used to, but you get the idea-- that the Jays really need to find upgrades at catcher, 2B and in the rotation.

I'm sure we've all examined the catching market ad nauseum, pointing out McCann, Ruiz, Suzuki, and others as possible targets for the Jays behind the plate. There was probably a joke made at some point about Angels' catchers Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta, since the Jays seem to acquire every Angel catcher ever, but that's apparently real life now.  The pitching market has also been looked at, at least a bit, pointing towards free agents Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza as potential targets, as well as Brett Anderson from a trade standpoint.

We've had some quick looks at 2B, but we, or certainly I, feel most comfortable with internal options at 2B, so I think I've thought and discussed that one the least.  I don't think Ryan Goins starting the year at 2B is the end of the world, especially if it allows AA to go ahead and devote his energy to upgrading behind the plate and in the rotation.  Maicer Izturis or Munenori Kawasaki can hop in and cover if needed, so it's not a guaranteed flop if Goins regresses both offensively and defensively; I can see offensively, but he's pretty good in the field, which should be lots going forward in terms of value, given replacement level at 2B these days.

At least that's where I was.  Over the last few weeks, there have been a few more names pop up, to the point where the 2B market is pretty flush if teams want it to be.  There's obviously free agent Robinson Cano at the top of the pile, but let's be realistic about that one.  Omar Infante, Kelly Johnson, and Brian Roberts make up a pretty top-heavy list of 2B free agents, but all of those guys are probably upgrades over -2.1 WAR or whatever the Jays did at 2B this season.

 Howie Kendrick's name has popped up as a guy that the Angels were planning on shopping, though I feel as though they're looking for starting pitching in exchange.  Still, Kendrick isn't a bad option, depending on the cost (plus there could be a package deal for Conger or Iannetta).  He's way above average offensively for a 2B, and plays a pretty reasonable defensive 2B as well.  He's set to make just shy of $20MM over the next two seasons as he enters his age-31 season, so I doubt he'll be all that cheap in terms of trade chips.

Cuban free agent Alexander Guerrero just signed in LA with the Dodgers, which probably makes Mark Ellis available.  Ellis will either be a free agent, or will have his contract option ($5.75MM) exercised, but I don't think he's a starter in LA anymore, unless Juan Uribe gets sent packing and one of Ellis, Guerrero or Hanley Ramirez moves to 3B.  When you consider the fact that Uribe put up a 5-win season in '13, he'll probably stick.  I figure the Dodgers will exercise Ellis' option (1 year, $5.75MM) and then move him for a relative pittance at some point in the offseason.

Ellis' contract and skill-set makes him a decent option for the Jays-- he rates as a league-average-or-so 2B, which is good for $5.75MM.  He's not going to cost a ton to acquire in terms of prospects or relievers or cash or whatever, and as a fairly cheap, 1-year deal, there is practically no risk involved.  Steamer projects Ellis for 2.2 WAR in '14, with a 91 wRC+ and above average defense.  At ~$6MM per WAR, that's a bargain.

The other new option that's shown up recently is Brandon Phillips.  Phillips is owed $50MM through 2017, and is entering his age-33 season.  That's probably a bad contract, or is at least market value with risk, so the Reds would have to eat some of the salary in order to get something nice in return, but they're probably motivated to do so, as it would allow them to try and re-sign Shin Soo Choo, find a cheap replacement at 2B, and/or maybe get another starting pitcher.

I think ultimately, Ellis is the safest option, given both price and term.  He won't cost impact prospects and will give comparable production to Kendrick for half the money, let alone the opportunity cost (i.e. what they trade to get him).  The 1-year deal that Ellis has allows AA to reconsider his options next offseason as well.  Kendrick might be a bit more likely, however, given that the Angels would like to move him, and that they have two guys behind the plate that might make reasonable trade assets, filling two holes with one deal.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Assorted Thoughts on Recent News

I dunno man, looks like a good hitter to me.

My jaw about hit the floor this afternoon when I read that Chad Mottola wasn't going to return to the Jays staff in 2014.  I thought he had done a pretty good job with what he was given-- some pretty big strides with Colby Rasmus being my main evidence, but Adam Lind seems to like working with him too, and his numbers, while a bit babippy, since going down to Vegas last season to work with Mottola, are above replacement level.  Not exactly something that he can tout since 2009.

If anyone was going to wear this season by way of losing their coaching job, I figured it would Pete Walker, given how terrible the performance of the rotation was this year, but both Walker and Pat Hentgen will return to the coaching staff.

Anthopoulos discussed the coaching change on PTS today, and kind of explained himself.  AA viewed Murphy and Mottola as a tandem, so with Dwayne Murphy stepping down, AA viewed it as a transitional period.  He told Mottola that he still has a job in the organization if he wants it, but given the partial change, AA felt that the full change was the way to go.

Elsewhere, Gregor had a mailbag posted either yesterday or today, in which he points out that "Washington's Wilson Ramos is known to be of interest to the Blue Jays," which is news to me, but I suppose it makes sense.  Ramos is a career .270/.325/.445 hitter over three seasons, though 116 games is the most he's had in a year.  He's certainly had some injury issues over his career, and you'd love to see him walk more, but you could certainly do worse from a 26 year old catcher.  The Nats would definitely be selling low on him, given his recent inability to play a full season, and the relative lack of decent available catchers at the moment.

The big issue for the Nats, as far as getting something done on that front, is that there's no really clear replacement from within their roster if they were to trade Ramos, which means that it behooves the Nationals to keep Ramos, not trade him.  Of course, if they decide to go ahead and sign a Brian McCann or even a Saltalamacchia/Pierzynski/Ruiz kind of guy, you never know.  I'm not sure the latter trio is an improvement over a healthy Ramos-- healthy being the operative word.

Ramos will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, so he'll have three years of team control remaining, which certainly adds to his value.