Wednesday, February 08, 2006


The Blue Jays just became a little bit scarier. Yesterday's news, I know. But for all the talk about the AL East suddenly being a three-team division, this will be JP's fifth season as Toronto GM. Not to be too Murray-Chass-like, but what exactly had he done, before this offseason? I mean, besides wait for Delgado's insane contract to run out? (Four years, $68M! Not bad for a guy who made the All Star Team a whopping two times.) Is their farm system in better shape? Or is he just spending a lot of new-found money?

Also, do you think they might be willing to trade Greg Zaun? I'm a bit worried about the Red Sox backup catcher situation.


  1. I think what JP really had to do was build up a supporting cast and then secure the cash he needed. The last few years, that's been really the big push; bringing high-level prospects up who can better league average by enough to form a good foundation, building a strong, reliable starting staff, and then adding impact guys when the foundation's in place. People see what's happened this offseason as coming out of the blue, but to me, he's done it exactly right.

  2. How many back-up catchers does it take? I guess there is no answer to that question when it comes to Boston baseball, at least not yet.

  3. I see your point (and I had totally forgotten about locking up Halladay through 2007), but I don't know if I'd go so far as to say JP's "done it exactly right." Maybe in terms of an overall strategy, but the Ryan and Burnett contracts seem ridiculous to me, and could seriously hurt them.

  4. I am a bit torn on JP - he has kept the ship steady for a bit, but then this winter has gone a little bit crazy - however I think he is doing about as good as he can given their resources and competition. As Chass pointed out, there payroll is about where it was when he took over, which is probably down relative to the league average.

    Did he overpay for Ryan and Burnett - absolutely. But did he have a choice? I mean KC had been whining to their local press (and anyone that will listen) that they have money to spend but noone is taking their offers. Well, who would want to play in KC - sure they have some great history, but aside from one fluke of a season in 2003, they have not been close in about 15 years.

    They can sit there and say - hey we offerred Bill Meuller 2 years and $10 million but he chose to play in LA. Well, not duh. Its warm. They might have a chance to win - maybe. More so than KC. so KC if you really wanted Billy, you should have offered $15 Million.

    Anyway, back to the Jays.

    I heard an interview with JP on XM a few weeks back and he was saying that he HAD to pay those ridiculous salaries and he completely understands the risks and that it could paralyze the franchise if these moves blow up. but he cam right out and said it - if the offers are equal players are going to choose to play in a place other than Toronto.

    So while I questioned some of his moves the past few years, I applaud him for taking a stand and being accountable (for now).

  5. This is not a comparison...just my thoughts on the Jays....

    Yes, they have Glaus, Overbay, and Wells. Even Catallanato is good (but somehow others generally play in front of him). Hillenbrand? Good average, but what is it about him that isn't impressive? Something bugs me about that guy...
    Rios, Adams, Hill, Johnson?

    They'll probably have a comparable ERA to their team last year, and score a few more runs...800? I am slating them (my prediction)...88 wins...

    They'll compete, but won't dominate...There are holes in their lineup and not much depth.

    I think they made a mistake with Molina. Zaun is very good. This was a signing not needed.

  6. X - I've come around a little on the payroll stuff. Could it handcuff them? Sure, but at the same time, a smaller market club like the Jays only get so many windows. Halladay's an FA after 07, and that's kind of it for them, so why not shell out and try to get it done now? The difference between the Jays and us is that we can afford to compete year in and year out; they really can't. And the point about location is a good one; I loved Toronto, but I can certainly understand people not wanting to play there, for a variety of reasons. The contracts were huge, but at least he spent the money filling the spots he needed.

    GR - you're overlooking the Jays real strength, which is their pitching. Halladay, Burnett, Chacin, Towers, Lilly is honestly as good a rotation as you'll find in the division, and one of the best in the AL. The bullpen was very good last year, and will be better this year with Ryan and continued development of a couple younger arms. I think their team ERA will drop significantly, and it was already good to begin with; keep in mind that they were holding right up with the Sox and Yanks until Halladay went down last year. Give him a full year, with that pitching depth behind him and a better offense, and I still think we're looking at a scary club.

  7. Also, keep in mind that that's exactly how Theo built the 2003-2005 teams; two or three offensive superstars, surrounded by capable role-players. The rest of the lineup doesn't need to strike fear, they just need to get the job done. And the Jays still had the fourth-highest runs scored total in the AL last year.

  8. I have to agree with Andrew on this one. It's always a bit too far to say something is "exactly right", but JP has got the Jays to a place that they could make a run for it. He then did the next thing which is bring in some talent to tighten up the team and really go for it. For whatever reason the Jay's have had our number, or so it seems (I am too lazy to look up the head to head records and I am sure I could always point to the fact that Halliday missed part of last season). Anyway, I am official scared of the big bad BJs.

  9. Okay, sounds reasonable, but here's the next question: why wait until now? In 2003, their salary was "low" (by mlb standards); about $51M, over a third of which went to Delgado. Their roster looked pretty good -- a bunch of capable players, a couple great ones (including that year's Cy Young). If they had added another $25M of free agents beforehand (here's a list of their FA options for that year) they could've been incredible. So I guess I see no "long term plan" in terms of their 2006 push.

  10. Andrew- not sure what happened...I did have a bit about the pitching in there, but I must have "cut" to "paste" it somewhere and then didn't.

    I had stuff about Halladay and how he's awesome, etc...Towers is very good. Chacin, also very good. I agree completely about their pitching staff being very strong. Despite his year (last year), I still question BJ Ryan. Also, Glaus on the turf...can he last the year?

    They scored 775 runs last year, had a good ERA and won 80 games.

    Maybe I am crazy, but I don't see them winning more than 88 with the changes they've made.

  11. Earl - I think the reason they did not do it sooner was that until the ownership was able to purchase the SKY Dome there was a bit of uncertainty in their finances and long term strategy. Is that an excuse? Probably. Ted Rogers certainly could have afforded the $75 million in additional payroll over three years a bit earlier - and had he done it sooner, the 2003 season may have turned out a bit differently for them.

    I like the Molina singing for them - a lot. It didn't cost them anything - LA didn't even offer him arbitration. Molina is a huge upgrade over Zaun - both offensively and defensively and he is a few years younger.

  12. Earl - X is right on this; ownership increased payroll significantly over the next three seasons, allowing Riccardi the room to do exactly this. Another factor is that, if you look over the Jays' roster, a ton of their players are system products; most of those weren't ready in 2003. The supporting cast fell into place last year around Halladay and Wells, and now they've filled in a few more impact players around them.

    GR - the Jays did only win 80 games last year, but they played below their Pythagorean projection by quite a bit, and furthermore were without Halladay for half the season. Even just with Roy in there for the last three months, they likely win 85 last year; put an 8 win jump on top of that and things look pretty different.