Sunday, November 28, 2010

Compensation picks

John Tomase of the Boston Herald wrote an interesting article in this week's edition, highlighting  how the Red Sox have made out well with compensatory picks for letting their players go. I thought we should look at some of the Blue Jays Highlights as a comparison:

Aaron Sanchez - Marco Scutaro
Noah Syndergaard- James Paxton (Who was compensation for AJ Burnett)
Asher Wojciechowski- Rod Barajas

James Paxton- AJ Burnett. James did not sign, which led to another compensatory pick in the 2010 draft
Jake Marisnick- AJ Burnett


Kevin Ahrens- Frank Catalanotto!
Brett Cecil- Justin Speier
Justin Jackson- Frank Catalanotto
Trystan Magnuson- Ted Lilly

The Jays didn't gain any compensation picks, but Kyle Drabek was taken by the Phillies as compensation for Billy Wagner

Zach Jackson - Kelvim Escobar (Who cost us Michael Young) EDIT: Kelvim Escobar was signed by the Jays as an international free agent. Esteban Loiza cost us Michael Young. That actually hurts even more...

Dustin McGowan- Graeme Lloyd

So, in the last decade, The Jays actually did pretty poorly in terms of compensating for losing Free Agents. The last 2 drafts are too soon to pass judgement on, but looking at the years before that net out only 2 Major League caliber pitchers (Cecil, McGowan) and Adam Lind

Hopefully Anthopoulos' new philosophy on drafting upside over signability will yield some better compensation talent in future years. He's going to get more picks next year, so he'll have ample opportunity.

After reading what Theo Epstein has returned from his choices, and understanding that the Red Sox use the upside philosophy on their drafts, I am at least optimistic.

EDIT: Master Kembo from BlueBirdBanter points out that I missed Adam Lind, who was taken in the third round of the 2004 draft. He  was the second part of the Jays compensation for losing Kelvim Escobar. Turns out that 3rd round picks can be valuable. Also gives reason to be excited about Jake Marisnick.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Big Delicious Bowl of Trade Chips

Now that we've heard that Alex Antopoulos isn't chasing after Justin Upton, we can all take a deep breath and give Travis Snider a big-imaginary-Blue-Jays-Hug. I'm very, very happy that I'll get to see him in a Jays uniform next year, and I'm not overly concerned about our outfield depth.

After I looked at what Brad Mills would be worth in a Justin Upton trade (Here) I started to wonder if there would be a way to place a trade value on everyone, to get an estimate of what we could get, and who we have that's valuable.

As it so happens, sabermatrician Sky Kalkman of Beyond the Boxscore, has created an excel spreadsheet that allows for a dollar value to be placed on a player, based on WAR projections, and their current contract. Victor Wang of the Harball Times takes this another step further by compiling a mountain of data that gives a dollar value to all prospects based on John Sickels' rankings.

Since I've already explained that I like WAR, and I publicly follow John Sickels, you can easily conclude that I like these methods for valuing players. I'm going to take it another step further in assessing trade value, by adding a "Major League Ready" component. For Example, JP Arencibia would be more highly valued to some clubs in a trade, because he is ready to contribute at the highest level. Travis D'Arnaud and Carlos Perez may have a higher upside according to Sickels, so I feel the need to account for this in Valuing trades.

This was a mountain of data, and I've had to make some conservative WAR predictions (listed in Brackets) as well as some arbitration award estimates. Here is the data, with my analysis to follow. I'm listing them in order of MY perceived trade value, with the Kalkman number as reference.

Ricky Romero- 68.6 (4WAR average)
Adam Lind- 52.4 Million (Based on 3.5 WAR avg at First Base)
Aaron Hill- 23.6 Mill (3 WAR estimate)
Travis Snider-13.8 Mill (2 WAR) UPSIDE UPSIDE UPSIDE
Shawn Marcum- 19 Mill
Brandon Morrow-13.2 UPSIDE!
Yunel Escobar-17.7
Brett Cecil- 16.5
Kyle Drabek-15.9 -MLB Ready
Jose Bautista-15.2 (8 Mill arb estimate, 4 WAR?)
Deck Mcguire-15.2- Cant be traded yet
Zach Stewart- 15.2- MLB Ready
Rajai Davis- 12.4
Marc Rzepczinski- 11.6
JP Arencibia- 5.5- MLB Ready
Shawn Camp- 10.5
Casey Janssen-8.7
Jeremy Accardo-8.3
Adeiny Hechevarria-0.7- MLB Ready?
Woj, Sanchez, Syndergaard, Murphy- 7.3- All can't be traded yet
Jose Molina- 6.5
Travis D'Arnaud-5.5
Carlos Perez- 5.5
Eric Thamses- 5.5
Kellin Sweeney-5.5
Henderson Alvarez-2.1
Jake Marisnick-0.7

Wow, I made some adjustments based on MLB readiness, but I am amazed at how this list looks. Obviously the prospect values aren't 100% accurate, but that's what the project to deliver to the current club. I'm also amazed at how much value Lind and Hill have, even without all-star levels of production. Lind also gets a value boost by moving to the field, as his WAR positional adjustment is less punishing. Escobar and Morrow are WAY undervalued, because the data I used only estimates their value for next year, not counting all 3 years of arbitration eligibility that they have. Same for Snider (Who could be valued at nearly $100 Million if the arbitration process favours the Jays.)

Because of their team-friendly deals, Romero, Lind and Hill offer massive trade value, even at levels below their career highs. The cost-controlled prospects that are MLB ready also add a huge amount of value (Snider, Cecil, Rzep, Drabek, Deck) so I've moved off my willingness to trade those guys.

For comparison, here are the same trade value factors for some popular trade targets:

Justin Upton- 58.1 Million (career avg is 4.5 WAR)
Colby Rasmus- 64.0 Million (4 years of team control)
Zach Greinke- 33.6 Million (his $13 Million salary brings him way down even at a 6 WAR prediction)

The conclusion is that in order to get these big pieces that are very, very valuable, it would cost the Jays some of their big pieces. The other conclusion is that Lind and Hill are still surprisingly valuable, despite down years. This also allows us to compare trade value when making proposals. ie: Romero + Snider proposal from JP Morosi for Upton a few days ago would be a total 1-sided trade in terms of value. Similarly, a proposal of Drabek + Stewart for Greinke actually nets out to nearly equal value (Surprise!)

If anyone has a trade target that they would like to estimate the value of, post it in the comments and I'll happily calculate the value of said player, and look at what combinations would be fair in a trade offer.

Happy Black Friday everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forgotten Trade Bait: Brad Mills

It's been awfully quiet in Jays land over the past few days. Too quiet. I am sure that Alex Anthopoulos is working on something that will be brain-meltingly huge. Until then, I thought it would be worth looking at another undervalued prospect who is almost definitely trade-bait at this point in his Blue Jay career: Brad Mills.

The JP Ricciardi regime was so enamoured with Mills, that they drafted him twice, first in the 22nd round in 2006, and then in the 4th round in 2007.

He has mostly only made spot starts for the Jays at the Major League level, but has been very good at every minor league level. In three starts last season, he acquitted himself very well, posting a 5.64 ERA. He had one fantastic start against Baltimore (7 innings of shutout ball) and two rougher starts against Boston and Tampa Bay, who are, admittedly, much better than Baltimore.

Based on these appearances, we know two things: He is Major League Ready, and he performs well against mediocre-to-poor opponents.

Which leads me to my conclusion: He could be a very under-rated trade chip. Not a center-piece mind you, but a solid, ML ready contributor. I imagine he would do very well in Arizona (Or any team in the NL for that matter.)

Hear me out regarding his value in a trade: (for now, assume I am considering a Justin Upton trade) be objective: Kevin Towers needs Pitchers. Kevin Towers needs players that are ML ready, and cost-controlled. Mills is both of these things. Mills still has upside, as he was a top-10 Jays prospect before the influx of talent over the past year. Also, Mills has no real role left on the Jays. He's been passed by too many younger prospects, and I see his value as a starter. If he's to continue starting, it will have to be for another organization.

If including Mills allows the Jays to keep a higher-upside prospect, I say do it quickly. Drabek-Mills-Thames-Marisnick-H. Alvarez? Something like that? it would give ARZ exactly what they want in terms of talent, quantity, as well as some quality in Drabek and Alvarez, with upside in Thames and Mills (Both of whom are ML Ready)

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on Mills' value. Comments to follow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

John Sickels Loves the Farm

For those of you that have not already done so, go and check out John Sickels' blog Minor League Ball. He's a terrific scout, with a good pedigree (from what I've read.) My only problem with his work is that he is ULTRA conservative with his projections of prospects. That said, he's just released his professional assesment of the top-20 prospects in the Jays system. Since I'm not a plagiarist, you can go and read what he had to say here.

Considering how conservative his projections are, he LOVED the Jays' system. Admittedly, we only got one A- grade (Drabek), but we went until number 14 before we got out of the Bs! That translates to having 14 players that Sickels views as above-average at the Major League level.

I was disappointed in his rankings of Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria. They both got C pluses, which is okay-ish, but most scouts are considerably higher on them. He said that he needed to see more professional at-bats before he could make an assesment.

Still, 14 players that could be occasional all-stars!

Now on to the negative aspect of this: 7 of those 14 are currently projected to be starting pitchers. Add that to the 5 that are on the Major League Roster (Marcum, Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Rzepczinski) and clearly someone will have to be moved, either to relief, or to another team. 3 more of the top 14 are catchers. For those of you doing the math along with me, that means that the Jays have approximately 4 B prospects that aren't part of a battery. Even adding Marisnick and Hechavarria to this still leaves some considerable holes.

Luckily there is still plenty of offseason to wheel-and-deal. I've already posted my opinion on the Justin Upton Trade speculation, but if someone is after pitching or catching prospects, they should be calling the Jays. Conversely, the Jays' front office should be shopping around these marketable commodities to round out the system.

It should be an interesting next couple of months.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Longer on Board: The Upton Edition

Yes, He is a great ball player.

Yes, He was taken first overall in 2005.

Yes, he fits the mold of players that Alex Anthopoulos loves.

Yes, He might make next year's team better.

All that said, I am no longer on the bandwagon to go out and get Justin Upton.

Why? you may ask. Because to my eye (which is totally unqualified to make these statements) any trade to acquire Upton is more than likely going to have to include Travis Snider. Unless the trade was straight up, I am NOT okay with that.

Snider has only 3 less career home runs than Upton, in over 300 less ABs. He plays LF in an above-average way, and will be the anchor of the heart of this lineup for many years to come. Upton has great on-base skills, and would be an ideal 3-hitter, but like "Chicks," I dig the long ball.

I could be brought back on-board with this, but only if I knew in my heart that Travis Snider would not be involved in the trade.

As a second note: I actually don't beilieve that this is going to happen. Any trade that Alex Anthopoulos has ever made, save the Halladay trade, has come completely out of the blue. The fact that there has been so much media coverage of this rumour, leads me to believe that the Jays aren't going to make this deal. Call it a hunch.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Second Day of the First Winter Meetings.

Ugh. Really? Rajai Davis? He who couldn't even be considered a regular on a miserable Oakland offense? He who got regula at bats only due to injuries?

Don't get me wrong. He will be an excellent 4th OF. He will likely even grab some extra at bats when Jose Bautista moves to 3B. Just don't ask me to be excited about this move.

I'm not even mad about what we gave up. We only lost two fringey middle relievers, so I'm not really all that upset. I just had so much more hope that these meetings would lead to Anthopoulos fleecing yet another GM who'll sell low on a young guy with a ton of upside (Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Colby Rasmus.) What's worse, is thanks to our old loud-mouthed friend Ricciardi, nobody in the Jays current front office is allowed to even let out a peep of what's happening regarding trade or free agent discussions. This makes the hot-stove season pretty boring.

In other news, Alex continues to crap on my favourite scrap-heap players, granting Shawn Hill his unconditional release yesterday. I really was hoping that he could get a look as the 5th starter, or as a swingman in the 'pen. His upside justifies it. Instead, he's going to go and catch on with an NL club, and if he's healthy, he should have a solid year. Let's all pull for him to get his injury woes behind him and salvage his career.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The first round of Winter Meetings

So the first set of GM meetings is underway in Orlando. The hot stove has been buzzing like crazy. Since I'm super behind on posts (sorry) I thought I'd just give a quick take:

-John Sickels has his preliminary Jays top prospects list posted here. They're listed alphabetically. It's basically the same as Tammy's list (The Southpaw) He left out Michael McDade, and the commentors let him know.

-I already miss Edwin Encarnacion. Not his defence. I really belived that he could have contributed.

-I'm super glad Dan Uggla didn't get traded to Toronto, I don't see him as a good short term piece, or long term piece. Although Atlanta got him for almost nothing. Great trade for them. Kenny Rosenthal says the Jays offered Roenicke, Farquar and either Mastroianni or Ryan Goins (MLBTR)

-I'm all-in on Manny Ramirez. As soon as the White Sox decline to offer him arbitration. On a one-year redemption contract (a la Vlad Guerrero) I'd be satisfied with the value he would provide anywhere under $10 Million.

-News of the day: The Diamondbacks will listen to offers on Justin Upton. He just took the top spot on my off season wish list. (Above Colby Rasmus) Any 5 Players under Jays control (Who aren't named Snider or Morrow) would be my offer to them. ANY 5.

-The Red Sox are potentially willing to pay part of Papelbon's salary in a trade. The human rain delay would annoy me to death, but I'm intrigued.

-I'm also intrigued that the Chiba Lotte Marines have posted Tsuyoshi Nishioka. He is an OBP machine, and reportedly plays a good 2B. He's also only 26. I'm no expert, but this seems like a good candidate for a future leadoff hitter.

-San Diego now has about 8 Outfielders on their roster, I wonder if we could buy low on Kyle Blanks?

-The Marlins counteracted their poor return on Dan Uggla by signing John Buck. I wouldn't have believed that I'd be writing this a year ago, but he won me over. Look out for their young pitching staff next year.

-Last, but certainly not least, Roy Halladay won another Cy Young award. Obviously it was well deserved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finally, Some Hot (Stove) Action.

If you're waiting with baited breath for the wheeling-and-dealing of the offseason to begin, today seems to be a day when some interesting things are getting out.

First came a report from Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun, that the Jays were in contact with Kansas City regarding their enigmatic ace Zach Greinke and can't-miss-but-somehow-missed-top-prospect Alex Gordon. The Royals GM, Dayton Moore, has since commented publicly that he will not trade Greinke unless he's "blown out of the water" by an offer. Sound familiar? Moore also mentioned that he won't sell low on Gordon either. Seems like he's saying that Gordon is available.

Second, came an article over at MLBTradeRumors, that the White Sox are going to "listen" to offers for Gordon Beckham, and Ben Nicholson-Smith, who wrote the article sees this as a good fit.

I'm still holding on for dear life to the hope that the St Louis Cardinals would trade Colby Rasmus, and that the Jays could be in on that deal as well.

The other possibilities to consider are the Jays being part of three-way trades. Alex Anthopoulos seems to be involved in nearly every trade discussion that happens in the league. This allows him to act as a facilitator, and to scoop up talent in the process. I can also see him getting involved in something crazy again this winter.

As far as the rumours that are out there: I don't think the Jays need Zach Greinke badly enough to overpay for him in terms of talent. I do think that Alex Gordon deserves another chance to play 3B, and that a change of scenery might help him develop into the player that he was supposed to become. The Royals are looking for talent that is 2-3 years away to align with their strategy to compete in 2013-14. I'd guess they'd want players like Henderson Alvarez, Carlos Perez, or even Adeiny Hechevarria or DJ Thon (who would have to be a player to be named later)

I really, really like Gordon Beckham. He rocketed through the minors, on a path similar to Travis Snider. He's widely expected to develop into an OBP machine, with 20-30 HR potential. He also plays both 2B and 3B well. The White Sox are in perrenial win-now mode, so anyone that they got in a trade would have to be either a major league player already, or be ready to contribute immediately. This includes virtually the whole roster for the Jays, and the only prospects that fit would be Zach Stewart, Kyle Drabek, and JP Arencibia. They already have a Cuban SS in Alexei Ramirez, but in my crazy head, I could see them being interested in Adeiny as well, to play 2B. Ozzie Guillen speaks Spanish, for whatever that would be worth in this discussion.

If, in this crazy offseason trade post, Colby Rasmus were available, I would happily trade anyone in the Jays Organization. When I first heard this, I thought that giving up Travis Snider would be too much. After consideration, I now believe that it would hurt very badly, and it may not be the right move, but Rasmus plays a more premium position, and is more "athletic." Looking at what the Cards might want in return: Again, they are in a "win-now" position, with aging players. They have obvious holes in their middle infield, and a large question mark at third base. If they gave up Rasmus, they would also have to fill a gap in centre field. They could also seek help on their pitching staff, adding a younger arm to lower future payroll. My bet is that if this were to happen, there would need to be a third team involved. Unless the Cards want to take a chance with Bautista.

I've also said many times that if Toronto were to pay most of Vernon Wells' monster contract, that he could be a part of a Rasmus trade. Toronto could add a young starter, or prospect, and both teams would win.

Who else is out there? I have no idea how to put a poll up, so if anyone has any trade ideas, I'd like to hear them in the comments section. Also, if anyone thinks they have a good idea what any of these players would cost value-wise, put it there too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

John Sickels Report on Eric Thames

John Sickels writes a great prospect blog called Minor League ball. I follow him, and you should too. He can be found here.

He had this to say after seeing Eric Thames play in the Arizona Fall League:

Eric Thames, OF, Blue Jays: Hitting .257/.366/.443, not great for the league context but granted sample is small. He hit a home run and a double in the game I saw him play, and showed a terrific approach at the plate, including power to all fields and good plate discipline. Opinion seems mixed; some scouts who have seen him more than I have say his swing is too long, but others say it looks fine and he's a sleeper for 2011/2012. In the game I saw it looked good to me, but I've liked him since he was at Pepperdine so maybe I'm biased.

This is great news for the depth of our system. Thames will likely get a chance to pad his stats in Las Vegas next year, and could be in line for a september call up. It is conceivable that the Jays could have back-to-back PCL MVPs, especially if Thames can bring the same approach to Vegas. By all accounts, Thames will be a Left Fielder at the major league level, which could mean that he's blocked by the (baby)face of the franchise in Travis Snider. No matter what others will have you believe, Snider is a Left fielder until his legs give out, and then he may become a 1B/DH.

Thames could also make great trade bait. He's blocked for the next few years at the MLB level, and He's really improved his stock as a prospect. The Jays could let him further improve his stock in the PCL, or he may be used in a deal this offseason.

Here's hoping that the Cardinals like what they see... Thames would be a perfect addition in any possible trade for Colby Rasmus.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My $0.02 on the coaching staff.

Seriously? Who expected Pat Hentgen to emerge as the bullpen coach? I could not be more excited, as he's really demonstrated his baseball acumen over the last year. He's been on TV and radio broadcasts, and given a number of radio interviews. He even sat down with Tom Dakers for a 5 part interview over at Bluebird Banter. He really knows the Blue Jays system, and I think he will make a great coach.

I'm holding my breath on Don Wakamatsu. He could still become the manager of the Mess Mets. He deserves the job, but I really think that he could add a lot to next years' Jays squad. He is reportedly a "catching-development guru," and I believe that he was brought in specifically to work with JP Arencibia. I also believe that if Wakamatsu comes back, it is 100% certain that Arencibia catches 100 games next year. Sorry to Miguel Olivo if he wants to accept arbitration...

To be honest, I've never heard of Torey Lovullo. What I've learnt in the past few days is impressive. He's managed in both the Boston system, and before that, he was with the Indians. This guy has the credentials to be a manager in his own right, so I believe that the Jays are lucky to have him.

The rest of the cast is returning from last year. Walton and Butterfield were already announced, and Murphy will return as hitting coach. I'm excited by the blend of continuity and new voices. All of the newcomers have excellent pedigrees. Hentgen is the only one lacking experience. He has the toughest job ahead of him, as the bullpen is in need of the most improvement.

Now we just need to flesh out the roster. Things are looking awfully bright in Jaysland.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Top 10 Jays Prospects Released... And Anthopoulos Beats the System

Baseball America released the Blue Jays top 10 prospects yesterday, and... wow.

Keeping in mind that last year's Blue Jays top 10 was released just before the Roy Halladay trade, but the lists couldn't be much different. 6 of the 10 top prospects were not on the list in 2009. BA is a scouting-based organization, which should line up well with the Jays scouting-heavy model. Here's the list for reference:

1. Kyle Drabek
2. Deck McGuire
3.Anthony Gose
4. Travis D'Arnaud
5. Zach Stewart
6. Asher Wojciechowski
7. J.P. Arencibia
8. Carlos Perez
9. Aaron Sanchez
10. Jake Marisnick

The most glaring omission to me is Adeiny Hechevaria. Many people consider him the 2nd or 3rd best prospect in the system, but Baseball America doesn't appear to be as high on him. In the chat, he was revealed to have "just missed" the list. BA tends to rank the highest-ceiling players, regardless of positional value. Keith Law recently opined that Hech's defence wasn't as good as once advertised. Not that Law had any effect on the BA rankings, but maybe he still needs some more work before we anoint him as the next coming. Either way, Escobar is doing more than keeping his spot warm, so the Jays can afford to be patient.

Last year, Zach Stewart was the top prospect. He's down to 5th, after his best minor league season ever. Which really seaks volumes to the amount of talent that has been infused into the system. This is the second time in the past week that I've read a glowing review on Deck McGuire. If BA is that high on him, then I'm going to elevate him in my personal esteem. It also follows logic that they love a "toolsy-but-raw" player like Gose. D'Arnaud's ranking was a bit of a surprise considering his down season. AWoj (come on, you didn't expect me to type that thing out every time, did you?) ranked surprisingly high. I would have expected Snachez or Syndergaard here, but it again shows how valuable first rounders can be. AWoj was expected before the draft to be a top-20 pick by both BA and Baseball Prospectus. Great to have him in our system. I will be interested to see if they continue to develop him as a starter, a-la Stewart, or, if they move him to the 'pen to move him through the system faster. Perez really established himself as a prospect this year, and I would not be surprised to see him top next year's list with another solid season. He's one of the most complete all-around players in the Jays' system. It also gives the Jays 3 Catchers in the top-10, a feat that can likely only be matched by the Yankees (assuming that anyone still realistically considers Montero and his horrid defense as a Catcher.) Marisnick appears to be the saving grace from the miserable '09 draft, and his athleticism has impressed scouts around the league.

BA is likely going to rank the Blue Jays system in the top 10 this year. They were a consensus bottom-10 last year, so this is a DRAMATIC turnaround. Obviously, trading your best major-league starter (and one of the best ever) has to add value to your system. That said, it's still a tremendous accomplishment to make such a huge change year-over-year. It also shows the value of type-B free agents (Sanchez and Woj were compensation picks for Scutaro and Barajas respectively)

Which brings me to the first ever MLB draft pick trade. Alex Anthopoulos is too clever by half, for he has worked out a way to leverage the Rogers bankroll into extra first round picks. He said all the right things in the media to keep the commisioner off his back, but I can't see any way that this isn't a straight draft pick trade. AA has repeatedly stated that JP Arencibia "has nothing left to prove in the minors." Translation: He is our starter. Since Olivo wants a starting job, he's almost certain to decline arbitration. When he signs a major league deal elsewhere, BOOM: extra pick. John Buck will also add a pick, along with the recently option-declined Kevin Gregg. My bet is that Jason Frasor will accept arbitration, but Scott Downs will add another 2 picks. It looks like another great draft for all those scouts that the Jays recently hired.

The Southpaw provides a pretty good recap of the top-10 chat here. I suggest that if you are interested in the Jays' future, you should read it. The most exciting thing for me was that there was an indication that the system goes as much as 20 players deep. Talk about sustainable. I can imagine that, pending trades, that the organization could be ranked 1st sometime in the next 2-3 seasons.

The future is bright for this team. Spread the word, it's a great time to be a Jays fan. The bandwagon is picking up speed, so people should get on now, before it gets too full.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Team Canada Pitching Review

Last week, I reviewed the Canadian Depth Chart for the next potential World Baseball Classic Here

Today, I think it's worth looking into our potential pitching staff.

I read something a few years ago, stating that Canadian Pitchers are always going to be HUGE injury concerns, and that Major League teams should limit their interest in drafting them. The argument was: Since the Canadian baseball season is shorter, and winter baseball opportunities are fewer, that pitchers from Canada never develop the required endurance to have long-lasting careers.

I didn't believe it at the time, but it has proven to be mostly true, as most of the Canadian pitching talent I'm about to list are MAJOR injury concerns.

Starting Pitching:

Eric Bedard is the most talented skill-wise. He's been a brilliant pitcher throughout his career, and has great swing-and-miss stuff. It remains to be seen if he can recover, as his surgery was on his shoulder. I've already stated my opinion on shoulder surgeries.

Ryan Dempster is unique in that he has been successful in both a relief role, and as a starter. Since Chicago has no inclination to move him back to the 'pen, I'd assume that if they allowed him to go to the WBC, it would be as a starter.

Rich Harden proved himself to be healthy this year, although he was discarded by the Rangers in the post-season. Another pitcher with a history of injury concerns. But, when he's on, his "stuff" is electric.

Jeff Francis is yet another shoulder suergery victiim. He was serviceable this year in Colorado, but was lights-out before his injury. Maybe another year of pitching will bring him back to form.

Shawn Hill is intriguing. His injury history includes 2 Tommy John elbow surgeries, but I am more confident in a pitcher being able to recover from that surgery twice, rather than once from shoulder surgery. He was a top-prospect before his injury, and I fully expect him to return to that form. (Hopefully while he's still with the Blue Jays)

Scott Richmond was to be the ace for the 2009 Canada team, but his dreams were derailed with a loss to Italy. He too has found his way to the IR, and is working his way back from a... wait for it... shoulder injury. I'm noticing a theme.

Also, based on prior scouting reports, it's a real shame that Adam Loewen's arm can no longer stand up to the rigors of pitching. He was so highly regarded as a pitcher, and the Canadian team lost a real gem with those injuries.

There is also a good pipeline of prospects coming through several systems. Scott Diamond (Braves AAA) could start making a name for himself soon. Phillippe Aumont (Phillies AA) projects better as a reliever, but he has been used as a starter recently. Jamieson Taillon has a Canadian Mom, so he will be eligible to play for Team Canada. His will be an interesting case, as his father is American, and he will likely be one of the better pitchers available to either team. I'm holding out hope for him to pitch for Canada. Jake Eliopolous is now in the Dodgers' system, and James Paxton is still very highly regarded; he's a free agent last I checked, after the Boras disaster last year. If I've forgotten anyone, please remind me in the comments section.

Relief Pitchers:

John Axford established himself this year as the premier Canadian closer. Assuming that he doesn't implode anytime in the next year, he'll be closing out any close games for Canada in the next WBC.

Jesse Crain is another proven reliever at the MLB level, and he will likely act as a setup man.

Blake Hawkesworth, Chris Leroux and Scott Mathieson are the only other current Canadian relievers in the Majors.

Dipping into the minors, I've already mentioned Philippe Aumont. Chris Kissock has performed well in the Arizona Fall League. James Avery, Henry Mabee and Philippe Valiquette are also in the AFL, and are well-regarded relief prospects. Not to mention Trystan Magnussen, who's not only Canadian, but also a Blue Jays prospect who could reach the majors before the WBC in 2012.

Vince Perkins, David Davidson, Chris Begg, Ryan Braun (Not that Ryan Braun) and Tim Burton (Not that Tim Burton...) are also Minor League journeymen that have played for Team Canada in the past. Again, if I've forgotten anyone, let me know in the comments.

What about a Platoon?

I've already made a case for keeping Eddie around here, but I've been thinking more about it, and I really think now that the Jays should strongly consider a 1B Platoon with EE and Adam Lind. "Lindcarnacion" would provide average-above average defense, and their peripherals would be stellar.

Encarnacion is not a "Lefty Masher" but provides a solid .264/28Hr/90 Rbi total in 606 plate appearances against lefties in his career.  Much better than Lind's .217/13/58 line in 510 plate appearances.

Lind has proven that Righties aren't an issue: .290/67/222 in 1482 plate appearances is impressive by any accounts. Encarnacion has put up a .254/72/247 line in 1834 PAs. That's only 5 Hrs and 25 Rbi extra despite almost an entire season's worth of extra ab's.

The other issue is Defense. Defense at 1B has never been a huge premium, and I'm of the opinion that Lyle Overbay was overrated at the position. That said, in some very small sample sizes, Lind's UZR/150 at 1B was 20.4. Encarnacion's -19.6 rating can only be explained by the fact that he only played ONE major league game there to date. Everyone knows that he has some deficiencies on defense at 3B, but at 1B, his arm is taken out of the equation. Fewer throws = fewer thrwoing errors.

I would expect this platoon to really help the team. I'm no expert, but based on Career norms, and some non-scientific projections by me, I believe that this platoon would provide 4.5-6.5 WAR at 1st base (combined total) For comparison, Lyle Overbay and his amazing defense has never been worth more than 2.6 WAR in any professional season. Other 1B to compare (2010 WAR): J Votto (7.4), Albert Pujols (7.3), Prince Fielder (4.1), Adrian Gonzalez (5.3), Ryan Howard (2.0), Miguel Cabrera (6.2), Paul Konerko (4.2), and Mark Teixera (3.5).

So by comparison, the Jays would bring that position overall to an elite level, assuming mediocre-below average defense. If Anthopoulos doesn't end up making a move, I'm more than comfortable with this platoon going into next season.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


First off, I hope everyone is as excited as I am for the BaseballAmerica Top 10 lists!

This year, in their wisdom, BA decided to start with the AL east, with Baltimore's list being released already. The only prospect of note is Manny Machado, but the article did mention some interesting changes that the team is making through their minor league systems. After seeing the prospect list though, I still think that Baltimore is 3-5 years away from being a serious contender in the AL East.

Boston's list comes out tomorrow, and our beloved Blue Jays will have their top 10 listed on the 10th of November. I'll probably comment on most of the lists as they come out, as I am a prospect addict. Also, in his weekly chat at BA, Jim Callis answered some Jays Questions:

    Frank (Toronto, Canada): Where do you see Deck McGuire starting next year? Is June 2012 a realistic ETA for him?

Jim Callis: High Class A, reaching Double-A by the end of the year. June 2012 is probably the earliest realistic ETA, but it's realistic. He's that polished

    Anthony (Indiana): What system has developed the most in the last calendar year? Which has suffered the biggest setback?

Jim Callis: The Blue Jays system is the most improved, because Toronto has brought in a ton of prospects via the Roy Halladay trade, the draft and international signings. We ranked the Marlins system No. 7 and the Orioles system No. 8 coming into the year, and they both look pretty thin to me right now

MOST IMPROVED SYSTEM!!!! that has to count for something!

Secondly: Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants. They have actually validated the concept of drafting nothing but #1 Pitchers, and filling the roster with scrubs. Many of you may have noticed, but the Jays had someone trying this for the better part of a decade without much success. That said, the Giants play in the NL West...

And while we're on that note: Congratulations to JP Ricciardi on his new role with the NY Mets. I do believe he is an excellent evaluator of Minor League Talent. His Failing as a GM was a complete inability to assess talent at the Major League Level. The new Mets front office is shaping up well, and could finally bring some respect back to the lesser-evil of the NY Franchises.

There have already been dozens of contract options decided on (Check out MLBTradeRumors) thanks to the moving of the deadlines, so this offseason should get off to a very fast start. Free Agency officially begins next Monday, so there will be a lot of news in the next few weeks.

Finally: In the interest of paying-it-foward (and because his posts are ridiculously well researched) go and check out FourSeamFastball, He's new, like me, so give him a read.