One More Time, With Feeling

The time has finally come for Blue Jay fans; Roy Halladay will soon depart Toronto for greener pastures in the National League.  Leaving Toronto, Roy will pack up his family and crate them down to beautiful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the next destination for my annual ballpark roadtrip.  

If you’re reading my blog and you haven’t heard of this already you’re likely living under a rock.  For the crag dwellers, here are the details of the deal as reported by various sites:

Seattle gets:
Cliff Lee

Philadelphia gets:
Roy Halladay
RHP Phillippe Aumont
OF Tyson Gillies
Player to be named later
Assistance with Halladay’s 2010 salary from Toronto

Toronto gets:
RHP Kyle Drabek
OF Michael Taylor
C Travis D’Arnaud

There are numerous ways to discuss this deal.  I am going to touch on a couple.  Namely, how this deal impacts Philadelphia and how this deal impacts Toronto.

Philadelphia has received the pitcher who many consider to be at least the best in the American League, if not the best pitcher in the Major Leagues altogether.  Roy Halladay, who has dominated the big bats of the AL East (notable excellence against the Yankees, with a winning percentage above .750) stands to pitch even better against the senior league’s sluggers.  Roy Halladay is a lock for NL Cy Young contention and is a better pitcher than Cliff Lee, whom the Phillies let go to Seattle for Halladay.  Some may argue that Lee and Halladay are a wash due to their comparable numbers as of late, but Halladay gets the significant nod for pitching in the AL East, completing so many games, improving his strikeout numbers and for a decade of consistency. 

The Phillies will miss two of their top prospects in Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek.  This may hurt down the line, but the loaded Phillies are committed to win right now and they are taking the right steps to do it.   Teams who are looking to rebuild need prospects to develop and fill holes.  The Phillies have hardly any holes, at least none that Drabek or Taylor could fill in the near future, and as such this was an excellent move on their behalf.

The move is more complex to analyze from the Blue Jays perspective.  The Jays will enter the 2010 season without a a real superstar.  With Rios gone and Vernon Wells lagging there is nobody, aside from maybe Aaron Hill, to be a moral and statistical leader of the team.  This will hurt both the locker room and ticket sales – which are bad regardless.  As for the effect that Halladay’s departure will have on the team’s success, I’m less worried.  Halladay had become, as a result of JP Riccardi’s ineptitude, an unnecessary luxury on an otherwise underachieving ball club.    

The future, however, is bright in Toronto for the first time in years.  While it is still to early to tell if D’Arnaud is destine for greatness, Drabek and Taylor are stars in the making.  The 6’6″ Taylor is both quick and good with the bat.  In the least he’ll be a high average corner outfielder.  At best he’ll be a massive homerun hitter – he has shown significant power in the low level minors.  To develop more fully Taylor will have to watch his weight and follow the guidance of his coaches to maximize his potential.  Drabek on the other hand may be ready soon.  He has dominated all levels of minor league batting and is poised to develop into a strikeout machine.  One or both of these men may lead the Blue Jays into the next decade.

For the time being Toronto fans are asked to do what they have been doing for far to long; be patient.  The new GM, however, seems committed to rebuild the team the right way in developing the farm team with high potential prospects.  I can’t remember the last time I said something truly positive about a Blue Jays GM.     

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Alex Gonzalez Back With the Blue Jays!

Alex_gonzalez2.jpg

Greetings new friends and old followers.

Its time to get back at this –

The title of this post is a little misleading.  The Alex Gonzalez signed today to a one year contract worth 2.75 million dollars is not, thankfully, the same Alex Gonzalez who wooed women in Toronto throughout the late 90’s but is instead the Alex Gonzalez who has played for Florida, Boston and Cincinnati. 

A day after signing John MacDonald as a utility middle infielder to a two year deal worth 3 million dollars the Blue Jays signed the slick fielding Gonzalez to a one year deal with a club option for 2.5 million dollars in for the 2011 season.

This deal makes sense for a number of reasons.  Chiefly, the signing of Gonzalez enables the Blue Jays to let 2009’s starting shortstop, Marco Scutaro, attempt to find a big contract in free agency.  Marco will surely command more than what he is truly worth after playing above his talent level for the first half of this past season.  Gonzalez, a year younger than Scutaro, is a better fielder and his hitting is similar to or better than Scutaro’s over his career.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, this deal frees the Blue Jays up in trade talks for Roy Halladay from having to go after a prospect to fill the shortstop position.  While they may still look for someone to be the shortstop of the future, this is no longer such a dire need.

Thirdly, because Gonzalez is not a type A or B free agent the Blue Jays do not have to surrender draft picks in order to sign him.

Finally, if the Jays now choose to let Scutaro go they will receive draft picks as compensation.

While not a blockbuster move for our new GM it represents a quick and effective signing that allows the Blue Jays to spend less time and resources on signing Marco Scutaro in order to focus on getting the best deal possible for Roy Halladay. 
    
 

The Good Point

Hey true believers,

Sorry for the long layoff in blogging – my marks needed it.
I am contributing over at The Good Point these days – its a great site with a variety of amateur and semi professional/professional writers writing about various topics baseball and otherwise in the world of sports.

The good news is they edit my stuff!

http://www.thegoodpoint.com/

DB

For What He’s Worth

Andruw Jones has been released by the Dodgers.  That ill-fated project has ended and Los Angeles is lighter in the pocket for their troubles.

What is Jones worth now?  A multi year pact? Hardly.  A single year contract in the neighborhood of 10 million? Let’s hope not.

He’s worth exactly two things; a one year contract and an attitude adjustment.  From 1997 through 2006 Andruw Jones put up exceptional numbers and compiled nine gold gloves.  He stayed away from the DL, stole a number of bases and led the league in homeruns and rbis once.  More or less he enjoyed a decade of dominance in line with some of baseball’s greats. 

In 2008 Andruw showed up to Spring Training with lingering injuries, overweight and without the zeal that allows a player to hit, hit for power, run, field, throw and steal bases at record paces that had characterized his early career.  What happened?

Let’s take a look at another wonderful career that fizzled out a little too early.  From 1989 to 2001 Roberto Alomar was the overall best offensive and defensive second basemen in baseball.  He did everything you need to do to be great and because of his great run will be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible next year.  Aside from a little incident with an umpire Alomar was often noted for his love for the game and boundless enthusiasm.  Yet like Jones, who has shown decline at the youthful age of 31, Alomar was virtually finished at 33.  How do these stars go south so quickly and at such a young age?

For Jones a big part of it has been his physical conditioning.  He needs to stay on top of that if he is to remain in professional baseball.  Alomar, however, was always in respectable shape.  But what seems common amongst the two is that they lost the love for baseball in their early thirties.  Alomar, the jovial young second basemen, became cranky in his early thirties.  Andruw Jones lacks effort and drive.

Jones, however, will be given the chance to turn it around.  Teams such as the Braves, the Giants or even the Yankees should think about giving Andruw a chance.  Comeback player of the year?  Let’s hope so.  

Romero is Wrong

Sorry Romero, I’m not buying your innocence.  Neither, for that matter, is Major League Baseball.  By now you should have heard that one of the Phillies’ post-season heroes, reliever JC Romero, has been suspended 50 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  In his own defense Romero has argued that he purchased the substance in question over the counter at an American pharmacy and accordingly should not be penalized.  In support of Romero the Major League Baseball Player’s Association have called this suspension unfair.

So why do I lack sympathy?  I am an avid slo pitch player.  Every summer I lace up the cleats with Durham Region’s finest and slug away at softballs with one of a number of overpriced, overhyped slo pitch bats.  When buying one of these bats (decent ones run you at least 300-500 dollars) I have to be aware of a banned bats list that is in effect in my league.  Each league I play in has a different list more or less.  Bats become banned in testing when it is deamed that the ball comes off the bat too fast for the pitcher to pick up, thus endangering the pitcher and to a lesser extant the other infielders.  (I believer that bats must have a speed rating is lower than 98.5 mph) 

When I walk in to the local sports store I have to keep the banned bats list in mind.  The penalty is not severe for using a banned bat once and for the most part members of the opposite team and the umpires do a good job of making sure that these bats are not used in league play.  I am not payed to play slo pitch and I do not have any particularly formal group of officials to turn to in order to discover whether or not a bat is banned other than a downloadable list.

I have never, however, used one.  I have used bats that are banned in other leagues but not in the league in which I am playing.  I have taken batting practice with banned bats (the Freaks from the late 90s are favorites of mine).  If I can follow these rules then why couldn’t JC have consulted with his team or somebody who works on these sort of things at Major League Baseball?  Why are we having to accept his cheap excuse that he simply didn’t know that the substance was banned?  Why didn’t he check? 

There is simply no excuse.  He has the means and the avenues to avoid such gaffes.  What is more is that he has professional trainers at his disposal that should have been able to answer questions on which substances are banned and which are not.

JC Romero should accept his suspension and his paycut.  He should let it be a lesson in prudence.  When a banned bat is discovered in slo pitch tournament play the player is either out, can often be ejected for the game and some times is ejected for the entire tournament.  There are no excuses offered – we all know the penalty for using the bat. 

As far as I am concerned, the jury has spoken.

DB   

Ducks and Rocket Launchers

If sources are correct the Yankees have come to terms with yet another big Winter free agent.  Mark Teixeira, it is said, has signed with the Yankees for eight years and 170 million dollars. For what he’s worth statistically Tex is being grossly overpaid but he entered the market young and at the right time not to mention his merits as a switch hitter.

What’s difficult for me here at BnR is dealing with what this means for the American League East.  Its not to say that we’re not used to being wildly outclassed but the Blue Jays are going to have to play the Sox, Rays and Yankees numerous times in the coming season – its not what has happened that is most worrisome but what may happen next that will make it difficult to compete.

With the Rays in possession of an already stellar lineup they should be able to add another bat to compliment the lineup at an affordable cost considering the bevy of outfielders available.  The Red Sox, having missed on the Teixeira sweeptakes, will need to add some sort of a bat and perhaps another bullpen in the arm to stay in contention.  The Yankees, however, will likely continue to make splashes towards constructing a new juggernaut.

Tex doesn’t actually improve the team that much over last year’s squad considering Giambi has departed.  Burnett, a villain to me, may not stay healthy enough to make an impact.  That makes CC Sabathia the best addition and that’s only if the Yankees are able to add Pettite or another free agent pitcher to round out the rotation at Sabbathia, Burnett, Wang __________ and Chamberlain.  What does that mean? Expect another outfielder to compliment the loss of Abreu and the aging of Matsui.

Enter Manny. Yes, I’ve said it.  Manny Ramirez makes the most sense.  Toss another 20-25 million dollars down the pike and round out the squad.  Watch A Rod, Manny and Tex bat together.  Even if they’re not as good as people believe, the sheer task of pitching against these three batsmen in consecutive order will destroy the psyche of lesser pitchers. 

Enjoy the Christmas season in New York.  Its getting colder here in Toronto.