Trading Places: A.J. and Pavano discuss futures
Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger yesterday reported that Jays' righthander A.J. Burnett had called upon former Marlins' teammate Carl Pavano to ask him his advice on the possibility of A.J. signing with the Yankees. You've got to be kidding. That's like A-Rod calling Guy Ritchie for advice on whether Madonna is worth the effort.
Pavano was run out of town for his prolonged injuries and other bonehead behaviour involving an auto accident while he was rehabbing. More likely in Price's reported scenario of Pavano and A.J. conversating re their futures, would have been the flip side of who was the actual councillor and who the councillee.
More likely it could have been Pavano the one asking Burnett for his counsel on landing with the Jays as a free agent. That scenario could happen only if GM J.P. Ricciardi can clear the deck of enough current Jays salary. Think about it. How could Burnett not know what the pressure of playing in New York for the Yankees, with teammates that don't put up with crap, in a brand new ballpark with 53,000 fans per night in the seats is like? However, in the wake of the reported mind-numbing tete-a-tete between the two badly misunderstood pitching talents, Burnett and Pavano, as was always suspected when this year's free-agency crop unfolded, the much-maligned former Yankee Pavano and the Jays do, in fact, have a mutual interest that comes down to more than the fact that both are underachievers in their respective fields.
The one thing standing in the way of any deal for the former Expo with the "not quite as electric" stuff as Burnett is the fact that to sign him, GM J.P. Ricciardi is going to have to clear payroll -- likely Lyle Overbay's total of $14 million for the next two seasons.
The times have changed. Pavano would surely help the Jays behind Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch, but unless the Jays are able to add talent instead of just moving sideways -- i.e. dumping Overbay and signing Pavano -- they won't be going anywhere.
Condolences to Ted Rogers' family as the communications icon is laid to rest today in Toronto. Despite GM J.P. Ricciardi's assertion yesterday that "I don't think the passing has really done anything..." in terms of a change to the direction of the Jays, I think he is wrong. Ted Rogers may not have been a knowledgeable baseball fan, as an owner, but both Ricciardi and outgoing president Paul Godfrey were always able to approach him with a reasonable request for more money, explaining in layman's terms what so-and-so's acquisition could mean to the Jays' winning effort and they knew they would get a fair hearing. With Mr. Rogers gone, that will likely not be the same scenario. Money will only get tighter.
The Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, despite the need for a closer, said he was not interested in pursuing B.J. Ryan. Ricciardi, despite the need for mid-rotation starting pitching, said he had not spoken to the Mets about Ryan, even though they are also seeking a closer. But his reluctance to trade B.J. makes sense if as reported in today's column in the Star the Jays are contemplating Scott Downs in the rotation and if they move Jason Frasor because of his arbitration-eligible status and seven-figure salary. Then they can't afford, at least on the field, to trade Ryan. That would, in effect, hand the closer's role to Brandon League and the setup role to Jesse Carlson. That's a Jays' high-wire act with no net.