Tagged: Burnett

All the wild horses in the sun…

sam the eagle.jpg

Never talk defeat. Use words like hope, belief, faith, victory.
Norman Vincent Peale

I would like to say something to the effect of “Really busy these days fellas, now back into the wonderful world of the Blue Jays!”  In fact, I would settle for “The flu I had this weekend kept me down, sorry I didn’t write.”  Regrettably, that is not the case.  What do we have to stomach lately in the land of the Azure Birds?  This.

The Jays wont go wild in this Winter.  That’s fine, I can stomach that.  Tell me, JP, that you don’t have the money.  Tell me that all the free agents that are worth their weight are too expensive.  Tell me that Uncle Ted has tightened the purse strings and, by proxy, your hands.  Just don’t tell me that you’re planning on resigning AJ or that you’re going to fill the roster with washups, hasbeens and neverweres (Jose Bautista, Matt Stairs [sorry toronto fans, but his success was a fluke], Marco Scutaro, David Eckstein et all). 

What do I want to hear?

JP: Thanks for having me on the Fan 590 tonight.  Now, Blue Jay fans, due to the economic downturn the Jays are going to have to be fickle.  To turn this squad around we’re going to cut our dead weight and start fresh.  It may not take effect immidately, but leading up to the 2009 trade deadline all Blue Jays are available in trade talks.  Everyone knows I love Oakland, now its time to start thinking like Billy Beane as opposed to taking his scrap heap junk and turning them into Blue Jays.  And Like Oakland, we will soon see the light of the playoffs – you just may not recognize the squad.



The Jays aren’t scared of a five year deal… but I am.

The most recent ploy conjured by JP Riccardi to bring back AJ Burnett has been to promise him more years, albeit at a lower price.  This ensures that AJ has a job in Major League Baseball until he is well into the twilight of his career making a respectively high salary. 

I ask you, faithful readers, why?  I sure sign of the trouble ahead came to me yesterday morning.  The folks on TSN, our local sports network, commented that the Jays’ expected relative inactivity in the offseason would lead to another dissappointing season.  When the mainstream media is making such claims, you know that the panic has passed beyond the speculative blogsphere and into the public’s conscious. 

To be fair to JP, before I go any further, let’s review his situation.  JP is saddled with the difficult task of managing a financial system where all our your salaries/expenses are in American funds but your revenues are in Canadian funds.  With the dollar trading in Canada at .80 US the Jays stand to suffer somewhat (although not as bad as in the past). 

JP also toils in the impossibly competitve and expensive AL East where the Yankees and Red Sox are bound to outclass the Jays and Orioles every year in spending. 

JP has also received poor returns on most of the big free agent signings that he has made, being bitten by the injury bug one too many times.

On the converse.  JP has been given a payroll of around 100 million dollars to deal with – a respectable sum even in today’s market.

JP has also had the benefit of good returns on some of the players he’s drafted (Hill, Marcum, McGowan, et all)

JP has ALSO been given an inordinate amount of time to construct a winning team and has not produced a squad who has faired any better than second place in the division.  They Jays are literally no further ahead than they were when JP got here.

All common knowledge – what’s the point Byrne?

If JP can’t compete with the big guns in the AL East, which is obvious, and is gunshy about chasing any other free agents outside of Burnett this offseason – a fact that he has alluded to on a number of occasions – then there is no point in signing Burnett to a five year contract just to watch the Jays finish a couple of games over .500 every season and in third place in the East.  What is more is that Burnett is absolutely untradeable if he’s having a bad season or two with three or four years left on a contract.

Let’s trade Halladay instead.  I know, bloggers have come out against this idea a number of times.  Even I would hate to see Halladay go.  But let’s compare him with Toronto hockey star Mats Sundin.  Leafs’ GM Cliff Fletcher begged Sundin to waive his no trade clause so that the Leafs could send Sundin to a playoff bound team in exchange for some excellent young players/draft picks.  If Sundin had cared as much about the Leafs as he claimed he did he would have allowed a trade to happen, gone and played in the playoff and then returned to the Leafs in the offseason to help develop the youth movement.

Instead he hasn’t played yet this season, the Leafs missed the playoffs, and they likely will again this year. 

Picture this – Halladay starts the year as a Jay.  He plays his heart out, just as he always does, until the trade deadline.  JP trades him for a number of prospects from a team who is making a play for the post season (Oakland, with whom JP has an almost too comfortable relationship with, may be this team), and the rebuilding era begins!

In a perfect world JP will be fired and a new GM steps in to oversee this phase.  However, if the prospects turn out then JP’s legacy is increased monumentally – he becomes the former GM who made a trip to the playoffs possible by making an unpopular but wise decision. 

You want Roy back? Sign him to a contract when he hits free agency, his contract will be up soon.

That’s my sollution, folks.  Feel free to tear it apart.

We’ll Make a Brand New Start of It… Or Will We?


No matter how good I feel I got to take that extra day. It’s been mentioned to me and I know for a fact that I’m needed down the road as opposed to now so however long it takes.

With little else to entertain topically on the Toronto front when baseball is considered here is another post that deals primarily with notoriously fragile Mr. Burnett.  The Hot Stove on Toronto’s beleaguered pitcher could not be brighter with at least four teams (New York, Boston, Baltimore and Toronto) showing significant interest and some others (Atlanta, for instance) claiming that they have at least some vested interest in AJ.  Ken Rosenthal recently broke down the financial aspects of the potential deal.  I am going to look at what team, from a mostly intangible prospective, would be the best fit for AJ.

New York:
AJ should avoid the Bronx Bombers at all cost.  Burnett, once comfortable, may fall victim to his usual tendencies to take vacations on the DL and to sit out games for menial aches and pains.  You think Pavano had it bad? At least he didn’t play long enough to feel the wrath of Yankees’ faithful.  With Steinbrenner and fellow players breathing down your neck to do your share and the media in New York eating you up, enjoy the fan reaction when you return from a stint on the DL for a fingernail issue.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was in New York for the first time in my life this past May.  I was instantly sold on why it is considered one of the world’s great cities.  The fusion of culture, art, sports and some of the most diverse and wonderful people I’ve ever encountered was intoxicating.  Just don’t go there if you’re a high paid player with injury issues.  The endless coverage by the YES Network, the invasive prodding by the newpapers and the stress of performing on baseball’s biggest stage in a new ballpark no less will be too much for Burnett, a player who is not known for stepping up to the challenge when he is pressed to do so.

Not as bad as New York, Boston ranks very highly amongst American cities where media coverage and baseball is concerned.  Boston may be able to secure Burnett by offering him an extra year on his contract, argues Rosenthal.  On the other hand can Burnett secure himself a spot amongst the Red Sox great? Doubtful.  Boston loves their team more than it loves their players, just ask Ted Williams.  Some players, Varitek and Ortiz come to mind, are much celebrated in Beantown.  How’d they get there? Through dedication and the ability to grind through injuries.  Forget it Burnett, your psyche can’t handle Boston either.     

For what?  Burnett would gain nothing by playing for this sagging American League East team outside of a lucrative contract and poor run support.  A mixture of Angelos and Burnett seems volitaile. 

Here we go, another ‘anybody but Burnett rant’.  Not so, true believers. Despite the fact that I think Burnett is overvalued, the best decision for AJ’s camp is to return to Toronto.  After testing free agency Burnett should realize, like Ryan Dempster recently did, that there is no place quite like home.  Burnett has good relationships with players, coaches and strangely the fans in Toronto who inexplicably want to see Mr. Consistency return.  Rosenthal commented that both sides have denied rumours of a 4 year/54 million dollar contract.  Could that mean more money? An extra year? An annoying club option such as existed in his previous contract? Who knows!  Burnett, you’ve already scratched out your niche with the forgiving Toronto community.  Return, brother, and reclaim your seat as the beloved antihero in the world’s most multicultural city. (This is a saying I’ve heard, but not one that I have statistics to support, so please don’t email me arguing the line).


No Deal? A Revelation on Rotation


I always tried to do the best. I knew I couldn’t always be the best, but I tried to be. Frank Robinson

I was over at bluejays.com today, reading this week’s edition of the mailbag.
In one letter Mark B. from wonderful Aurora, Ontario asked what Jordan Bastian thought the Blue Jays’ 2009 rotation would look like.  Recapping the situation Bastian reminded the reader, and by extension all of us, that the Blue Jays will not be able to match the length or the monetary value of the deals that Burnett will be receiving and as a result the Jays will have two returning starters from 2008 on opening day 2009. (McGowan will return some time before the All Star Break, hopefully as early as May). 

After briefly discussing the free agents available, assuming that Burnett will not come back to Toronto on a goodwill basis, Bastian added that Toronto may put together out of available options from within the club. 

Assuming that Roy Halladay is the only reliable starters, with McGowan hurt and Litsch not yet a proven commodity, is anyone in Toronto willing to accept a rotation that is made up of a combination of Scott Downs, David Purcey, Brad Mills, Casey Janssen, Scott Richmond, Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero or David Romero?  Scott Downs is a good reliever with mild success as a starter.  David Purcey was acceptable in his role as a spot starter last year.  I’m personally excited to see a return on Ricky Romero, the must own prospect that we chose over Troy Tulowitzky.  I am also excited to see what Janssen can do. 

All things considered, however, we are giving up on 2009 if our pitching staff is Roy & Co. with the & Co. section being a bunch of unproven side projects.  Frank Robinson always tried to do his best, but the Jays will be doing less than their best without going after pitchers with at least the record of guys like Brad Penny.  Give fans a reason to come to the ballpark in 2009, Ted.  We’ll respond, like we always have when we’re competitve, by supporting the team.  We may be fair weathered fans here in Toronto, but at least we will support a team that is worth supporting.  There will be no empty seats in the playoffs, if we ever see them again.


Rumours of Glory

The world is much abuzz with the onset of the true Free Agent season, and there are many rumours concerning the Jays that we should address.  Let’s break it down situation by situation, player by player.

Big Bat:

Manny Ramirez:
Jordan Bastian says it best.  The Jays probably cannot afford Manny. I’m not too sad to see him go, but I wouldn’t have been sad to see him here, either. What other options are there?

Jason Giambi:
In his seven years in New York Giambi enjoyed five productive years, including three of the last four, and two not so productive years.  On top of that he weathered the storms of steroid abuse, and brought back the mustache to New York, reminding Yankee fans of greats like Reggie Jackson.  At age 37, however, Giambi has the best years of his career behind him.  Jays, expect Frank Thomas like production from JG if you tender him a contract. 

Milton Bradley:
Forget about it.  You can keep the funnest player in the game’s league leading OPS, Canada doesn’t want the headache.  Even with Cito, a much more calm and level headed manager than John Gibbons was, notable jerks don’t fair well in Toronto.  Not only is Bradley a pain in the neck, he also has avoided providing his teams with the breakout season that scouts once envisioned.  It’s fun getting into trouble, but I’ll have to say sorry to Milton.

Raul Ibanez:
I’m not always negative!  I think Ibanez would be a great fit in Toronto.  Ibanez is aging quite well, is a premier offensive player in a number of offensive categories, would give us room to trade the likes of Adam Lind (his value will never be as high as it is now), and would probably welcome the chance to spend time at DH.  We tried once to get him and failed.  What about another go?

Bobby Abreu:
Not quite the unheralded marvel for fantasy owners that he once was, Abreu is a great player and would be a great addition under certain circumstances.  Let’s be honest, with how low his HR totals have been over the last few years, his high rbi totals are mostly due to the lineup in which he plays.  On the other hand an outfield of Wells, Rios and Abreu would be tremendous, considering one is willing to play LF.  What does that mean for Lind and Snyder?  One, if not both of them would have to go.  Abreu is too athletic to DH, Snyder is probably too young, and Lind doesn’t hit well enough.  Abreu may cause more problems than he solves. 


Rafeal Furcal:
I’ve already made the case for Raf a week or so ago.  Great pickup if we can get him.  Picking up Raf, Ibanez and a good pitcher would make Toronto a real contender I believe. 

Khalil Greene:
WARNING!!! FLUKE YEAR IN 2007!!! Since 2004 he’s only had one season where he’s played more than 121 games.  2007 was a fluke because of injury woes, not because of talent (of which Khalil has plenty).  If you pick this cat up, JP, get ready to give up your job the second he’s injured.  Let Burnett and Glaus teach you that.

Premium Arm

Some of the best reading I’ve done today was over at the hotstove blog where I noticed AJ’s agent had expressed interest in Atlanta and that Atlanta had given up hope, at least somewhat, in acquiring Peavy.  Go AJ.  Go far.  Go so far that we don’t even have to tolerate you in anything more than the odd interleague matchup. 

It is tempting to think of the chance of having another Canadian on the team.  I miss Stairs.  Dempster is positionally versataile, his injury plagued seasons are three years behind him and he’s coming off a successful transition back into a starter.  Finishing sixth in the crowded NL Cy Young race Dempster had an era below 3 and just over 1.2 WHIP.  Solid.

Ben Sheets:

Just kidding – I’ll explain myself.  I wasn’t always allergic to injuries.  But the Jays 2006-2008 seasons have me so scared I won’t even go for a checkup at the doctor.  Great talent here but his injury track record is awful.  Let someone else waste their money.

Brad Penny: 
Hmmm, didn’t know he was an option.  His under-the-radar status, due to his recent injury troubles, may make him affordable.  Unlike Sheets he has pitched a couple of full seasons recently and looked very good for the offensively anemic Dodgers in 2007.  Worth a shot!

There you have it, what do you think? 


Big Spenders? Why Not!

Before you read this post take a minute or two to review this article over at foxsports.com.

Finished yet? Good.

As this is a Blue Jays blog, I’d like to make some comments concerning what Dayn Perry sees in store for the Jays.  Dayn Perry calls the Jays the most underrated team from 2008.  Noted.  He then goes on to call the team a potential stealth contender.  Stealth contender? With a 100 million dollar budget?  Is that the best we can hope for? Oh, the pain of competing in the AL East. 

Enough lamentation, now on to the players.

A.J. Burnett: Is he worth it?  It’s a toss up.  A contract tendered to AJ would likely need to be in the range of 4 years at 15-18 million dollars at this point.  IF he enjoys the kind of success that he enjoyed in 2008, then it would be a good deal.  If, however, he follows his career trend then the Jays figure to only get one to two good years of the next four.  That would make Burnett grossly overpriced.  I tend to think he’ll find his way back to the DL one to two too many times to make him worth that kind of money.  Trading for a pitcher would cost us too much in the ways of prospects, as premium pitching is very hard to come by, so we may have to settle for a lesser talent at a reduced price. 

Raphael Furcal: The Blue Jays need an upgrade at short.  I do not think it is prudent to move Hill over to short in anything less than the most convenient situations (for example, getting Brian Roberts).  So we will need to lure a shortstop to Toronto.  Growing up watching a lot of TBS I have a soft spot for Furcal.  That being said, his last good season was 2006, he is coming off of an injury plagued campaign in which he hit very well in a small sample size of ABs and he is now over 30 years old, making him a liability as a speedster and as a shortstop. 

Mixed messages, Dave?

Absolutely.  I would support Furcal in a Jays uniform, but only under a few conditions.  We cannot offer him more than a 3-4 year contract (perhaps 3 with a team option?) and we’ll need to keep Johnny Mac to back Furcal up when his defense becomes suspect.

Orlando Cabrera: The best move the 2004 Red Sox made was to add Cabrera for their playoff run.  Could he work for the Jays in 2009?  Sure!  Not only are his stats just a shade worse than Furcals in his last couple of seasons (as compared to Furcals last full season or two) but he would be substantially cheaper.  The issue with Cabrera is that he is quite old for a shortstop/leadoff man and I would advocated a contract length of no more than 2 years with a club/mutual option for a third. 

Snider/Big Splashes (Manny):  The Jays need to make the playoffs now. If not, rebuild.  Snider could fit into both.  A big splash such as Manny, however, fits into just one plan.  There are three ways the Jays could spend their money this year.  Bring back AJ and a cheap upgrade at short, bring in Manny and find a way to get a pitcher, or purchase a number of mediocre talent to fill positions.

We’ve tried the latter a number of times and my thoughts are known about Burnett.  Get sassy Toronto – let’s bring us a pennant in 2009.