So yeah. Sort of lost initiative to write here over the summer. I’ve had a bitter-sweet one so far. On a personal level, one massive bitter pill: My mom has fallen ill. This is likely the single largest reason I haven’t been writing here. She’s mostly okay now; let’s hope she gets better.
On the sweet side, I went on tour for 2 weeks in July across Southern Ontario and Québec. It was fantastic. No new album yet…but soon. I actually have two in the works.
Again on the sweet side. I have cats. Two of them. I grew up with cats and haven’t had any pets at all since I moved out of my parents house almost 7 years ago. Well now 9 month olds Timbre (pronounced Tamber) and Cappella are here and I couldn’t be happier about it. Timbre is currently between me and the keyboard, making this just a little more difficult than it otherwise would be. But that, my friends, is the beauty of cats.
On the baseball side, it has also been bitter-sweet for my Jays, and indeed for Major League Baseball as a whole.
For the Jays…
- The rocket fell to the ground: After the fantastic start that had just starting making even the most pessimistic of Jays fans (such as myself) believe that maybe they could contend with the behemoths in the AL East, the Jays fell back down to earth…hard. Yes, it was expected. I mean, when you have the amount of pitching injuries that the Jays have, you aren’t going to remain hot for long. Deep down all of us Jays fans knew that the bats would eventually cool off and the young, unexpectedly good pitching would too. I picked the Jays to finish 4th in the AL East this year with a 78-84 record. It would appear that that is about where they’re headed. Another season of mediocrity.
- The Doctor and the GM that couldn’t: One thing I haven’t commented on is the whole Roy Halladay trade rumour business. I mentioned in an earlier entry that if the jays eventually fell out of contention that J.P. Riccardi should look into trading the ace. With a year left on his contract, the returns would be astronomical. Well, the Jays DID fall out of contention, and J.P. DID look into trading him, but could not. My problem is not with the fact that the Jays brass considered trading their long-time ace, but how it was handled. J.P. Riccardi went entirely too public with this whole thing. It became a HUGE distraction to Halladay and his teammates, which is really unfair. Does Roy deserve to be traded to a place where he could win a World Series? Absolutely! Does he deserve to be given the run-around right as he’s preparing to start the All-Star Game and preparing for the stretch run? Absolutely not!
Not only that, but J.P. threw Roy under the bus by going public in saying that he had indicated he wasn’t going to come back after 2010. Given that Halladay is such a class act and has done nothing but praise the city of Toronto and the fans, was it really fair to announce something that could potentially turn the fans against him? I mean, come on J.P. Luckily, Jays fans have a head about them and they don’t blame Roy for considering another team to try and win on. I mean, the Jays aren’t going to be World Series contenders any time soon. Not with bone-head in charge anyway. The problem here is that J.P. like to be the star of his own melodrama and he doesn’t much like being a mediocre GM in a middle-market city such as Toronto. Please Blue Jays…fire numbnuts before he does something really stupid: Like trade Roy Halladay for a package of peanuts and a Heathcliff Slocumb trading card.
- Vernon Wells and Alex Rios: What can I say here. These guys just plain haven’t delivered. Rios has always been a good hitter, but I’m not sure he ever really warranted all this “star-player” talk. I mean he’s never been much more than a decent player, capable of some great hot streaks. As for Wells, I don’t know what to say. I did notice that he dropped a lot of weight and his bat-speed seems to have decreased considerably. With all the recent talk about steroids; I wouldn’t be totally surprised. Remember how quickly Wells used to be able to come back from fairly severe injuries? Isn’t that one of the wonders of PEDs? Forgive me for being pessimistic, but I think we all have a right to be these days.
- B.J. Blown-Save: We saw this one coming, didn’t we? Of course B.J. Ryan was awful this year. Of course his velocity was down. Like Wells, Ryan looked CONSIDERABLY smaller than he had in past years, and although he’s never lit up the radar gun, Ryan’s velocity was curiously down from 88-91 mph to 84-86 mph. Hmmm…I wonder what could have happened. Probably the best move J.P. has made in recent years was releasing him when he did.
- King Hill: Everyone in Toronto has known how good Aaron Hill is for years now. But the outside baseball world is just now figuring it out. Even the proverbial psychics of the game, Baseball Prospectus, seemed to be completely misguided about the Jays star second baseman, “there’s no telling where he’ll pick up, now that he’s a year removed from his 2007 power surge. Sometimes a lost season can completely derail a player’s progress, particularly when that player was a late-bloomer to begin with.”
First of all, how is Hill a late bloomer? He was a 1st round draft pick and was in the majors within two years after solid minor-league numbers. Secondly, Hill was projected by the Prospectus to hit .260 with 8 HR and 50 RBI. Currently, with two months left in the season, Hill is sitting at a .291 average with 26 HR and 76 RBI. Yeah…WRONG!!! Hill has become the franchise player this team needs for the long-term future. I like him…even if he is a Republican.
- Adam Lind: Cito was right when he said this kid could hit and would eventually become a 30 homer guy. Lind has put up a fantastic year and has become a true power and average threat. I can’t wait to see where his ceiling is.
- The Doctor: Whether or not he’s Jay for much past the end of this season, Roy Halladay is still the best pitcher in baseball. He proves it every time he take the mound. Now that the distraction of almost being traded is behind him for now, Roy can get on with winning his second Cy Young Award. Enjoy it while we have it Jays fans.
Major League Baseball has definitely seen its ups and downs this year as well. The Ups: Buehrle’s perfect game, the myriad of cycles being hit, Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter, and Bronson Arroyo’s plain admission to using PEDs in the early 2000s, something more players should do. The Downs: Manny and David Ortiz and steroids. It’s getting to the point where players who were/are clean have the burden to prove their innocence. No one is clean until proven that way. Thats the bed Major League players have made for themselves, they must now lay in it. No more excuses. And if you are naive enough to believe that steroids are out of the game, than be sure write that list to Santa Claus, because Christmas is less than half a year
away. I say from now on, if you get caught…full season suspension. If you get caught again…lifetime ban.
I’ve been hesitant to do it because in the past I have believed that we need to give players the benefit of the doubt when it comes to steroid use, but now, after all of this crap, I will be making a list of players who I suspect were or are on steroids who have yet to be caught. Stay tuned.
When healthy, Ben Sheets is one of the better pitchers in baseball, the problem is, obviously, that he is rarely healthy. Once again he will have to undergo elbow surgery and will miss the first half of ’09. But the former Brewer is in a unique situation. He’s a free agent.
The Texas Rangers stepped up with a two-year contract that Sheets and his agent agreed to pending a physical which obviously didn’t go well. The Rangers withdrew their offer and it is expected now that Sheets will not sign anywhere until he’s healthy.
Here’s why I think the Jays need to go after him now…
The Jays apparently had no interest in Sheets because they don’t have the finances to pursue him. Fair enough. Sheets was reportedly going to sign for 2-years at around $16-million with the Rangers, far out of the price range for the Jays to even consider him. But now things have changed.
We know that Sheets will be out until late June/early July at the earliest so I think the Jays should try and get Sheets now at a diminished price. All well and good, but how do you make Sheets want a deal? Here’s what I suggest:
You give Sheets a contract for 1-year at a guaranteed $750,000 but you lace it with incentives. If he starts 10 games in ’09, he gets an extra $1-million. If he starts 15 games in ’09, you give him an extra $1.75-million. If he starts 20 or more games, give him an extra $3-million. On top of that, if Sheets wins more than 10 games with the Jays in ’09, you throw on an extra $2-million. This means that if Sheets comes back around mid-season and starts more than 20 games down the stretch and wins more than 10, the deal could end up being worth $5.75-million. Not bad for a guy only pitching half the year who was looking for $8-million for a full, healthy season.
To sweeten the deal for both sides, add two option years; options for both 2010 and 2011 worth some guaranteed amount of money. Let’s say $7.5-million for 2010 and $9-million for 2011. The options would be for both parties at the end of both years. SO, if Sheets comes back and performs well, the two could agree to exercise their option for 2010. If he does well in 2010, they could bring him back for 2011. If Sheets feels like he could make more by going back on the market at any point, he could do just that. If Sheets can’t stay healthy and doesn’t end up pitching in ’09, the Jays have only spent $750,000 and will be free of him next fall. Win-win.
If Sheets made the maximum in incentives in ’09 and decided to come back on both his option years, the deal would end up being 3-years for $22.25-million…nothing to sneeze at in this market.
I’ll be expecting my phone call from Mr. Riccardi any day to thank me for this wonderful idea.
It’s no secret. I’m not the biggest fan of Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi. Sure, I went through the normal honeymoon phase when he first got here in ’02. He traded for Eric Hinske who went on to win AL Rookie of the Year, he made deals for Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus seemingly out of nothing. Unfortunately, none of these things panned out in the long-run and although the Jays are perennially mentioned as a team “on the cusp,” the season always ends in the same way. MEDIOCRITY.
The fact of the matter is, J.P. has run his course with me and I’m no longer a fan. We need fresh management with fresh ideas. I applaud ownership for giving J.P. a real chance and having patience as he tried to execute his plan (something that has all but disappeared from sports these days), but enough is enough. How many more years of mediocre teams will ownership take before they decide Mr. Riccardi is blowing smoke up their ***** and has run out of ideas. No, the Jays aren’t a bad team, they haven’t been in a long time, but I’m sick of middle ground…I’m sick of 3rd place (or now 4th with the emergence of the Rays). It isn’t good enough anymore and it’s time to move on.
One last thing before I get to the point (and there is a point): J.P.’s smooth-talking. I’m tired of it. We know you’re plan with the Jays has failed…just admit it already. If you listen to Mr. Riccardi it sounds like waiting until 2010 has been the plan all along…the jig is up, sir.
That isn’t to say that J.P. is all bad. He has done some good things and has managed to build a team that has some of the pieces it needs to be a true contender, but the fact is: it isn’t one. J.P., I appreciate you’re services, but we need to move in a new direction. That’s right, I just fired him…I can do that…’cause no one cares what I think…nor should they.
ANYWAY…the point is: J.P.’s first draft pick as Jays GM was a middle infielder by the name of Russ Adams (14th overall in 2002). It appears as though the Jays have finally given up on him after they designated him for assignment today to make room for 28-year-old minor-league pitcher T.J. Beam who was claimed off waivers from the Pirates. Although Adams did enjoy a 63-RBI output in his rookie season in ’05 he is a terrible defensive player and has apparently forgotten how to hit. By the way, players taken in the first round after Adams?
- Scott Kazmir
- Cole Hamels
- Nick Swisher
- James Loney
- Jeff Francoeur
- Joe Blanton
- Matt Cain
Knowing the Jays, they’ll likely take this opportunity to ink Adams to a 6-year, $100-million contract extension.
I will say this though, if Riccardi can pull off signing Kevin Millar, I’ll give him a little temporary love. I refuse to cuddle afterwards though.
One more thing: The Yankees ’09 Preview is done and will be up tomorrow.
The Jays acquired lefty Brian Burres last night off waivers from the Orioles. Burres was designated for assignment by the O’s after they acquired Rich Hill from the Cubs.
Burres was 7-10 with a 6.04 ERA in 31 appearances last year with the Orioles including 22 starts. He figures to be in the mix for a starting job this spring but will likely start the year at AAA Las Vegas…man it still feels weird saying Las Vegas and not Syracuse, that’ll take some getting used to.
This acquisition is another pickup by J.P. Riccardi in an effort to find inexpensive ways to improve the Jays already decimated pitching staff. The fact of the matter is, Burres is 28 and has never been consistent enough to stay at the major league level very long, so he’s not the answer to any problem, unless by some divine miracle (and I don’t believe in god…that’s right, small “g”) he puts up good number with the Jays.
To make room for Burres on the roster, the Jays designated catcher Curtis Thigpen for assignment. If Thigpen gets picked up by another team it will open the door further for impressive minor-league catcher J.P. Arencibia to snag the backup job behind Rod Barajas. Although that would likely only occur if Arencibia was to get enough playing time to make it worthwhile; look for him to start in AAA and Michael Barrett or Raul Chavez to backup Barajas.