Sorry about the one-day delay in the mailbag, but I over-celebrated Simcoe Day and seem to have misplaced 24 hours of my life. In any case, the A-Rod wait for 600 is over and Shaun Marcum has become a part of history. It was three years to the day between Nos. 500-600 so what are the odds that he breaks the Bonds record of 700-and-whatever bombs. He has seven years left on his contract and if $30 million per year isn't enough to keep you motivated and playing, then what is? Say it takes four years to the day to hit the next 100 homers to put him at 700. That would leave him 3-1/2 years to hit 63. The guy swears he's clean now, so age may catch up with him faster than it did the Dorian Gray-like Bonds, but still, this guy has been healthy his whole career and keeps himself in great shape – according to former wife Cynthia, Madonna, Kate Hudson, some clingy Miami socialite, a busty stripper in Toronto and Cameron Diaz. That's an interesting and diverse group to have on your resume. It says here he'll do it in September of 2016.
I'm hoping your insights can shed some light on the Brett Wallace / Anthony Gose trade. On the surface, trading a former 1st round draft pick that is tearing up AAA (.300 BA, 18 HR) for a former 2nd rounder at the A level is odd. Wallace is rated by Baseball America at a similar level to Kyle Drabek. Is Gose that good? Or have the Blue Jays become concerned with Wallace's ability (and if so, what does that say about the Jay's scouting department)? Does this make Lind our 1st baseman of the future, or is this deal part of other moves that are coming?
Frank S., Toronto
A-The major-league draft has always been a crapshoot, although less so in the past 15 years with the extended scouting from all sources and the ability to compare and quantify statistics one with the other from various high school areas and college conferences. It has become somewhat more of a science, but nevertheless I think the question of the Jays trading a first-round pick, Wallace, for a second-round pick, Gose, is far from being the issue. The Jays moving forward realized that they wanted a batting order by the time they contend that had speed at the top of the order and was more classic with a balance of speed, power and defence than the organization's depth had become under J.P. Ricciardi. Guys like Gose and Jake Marisnick are the types of outfielder the Jays would like to combine with a guy like Travis Snider. In that case, where is the fit for Adam Lind? The answer is that if he can't play the outfield for the Jays of 2012 and you really don't want to have him DH at such a young age, then first base may be where he projects. We will find out if he can handle it between now and season's end.
Your inbox must be filled with outraged fans and you (in lieu of AA) must be feeling the public backlash over the departure of Brett Wallace. My question: why is everyone so upset? Yes, Wallace was expected to do big things. I never expected great things though. Honestly, I was a little upset when the Jays flipped Michael Taylor for Wallace in the first place. I felt as if it was a slight downgrade due to losing a premium position for a common one (OF for 1b). Also, I feel as if while power can not be taught, driving in runs (almost as good) can be taught...whereas speed can not be taught outright (which Taylor possesses). Almost anyone can be moved to first: Lind is playing around with it, Arencibia is a possibility if we find he can't catch forever...bottom line is, 1B is versatile while the OF cannot be played by just anyone. Do you think the media hype played an integral part into why all the Jays fans are collectively having ulcers on this day? Besides, AA is too forward-thinking to not have more maneuvering in the works. Does this deal mean Lind gets moved to 1B permanently?
Jon Kwok, Kitchener
A-The key looking to the future is to be able to compare the eventual ceilings of Michael Taylor and Anthony Gose. Another factor is that Gose is 19 and Taylor is 24. I too was skeptical when they flipped Taylor for Wallace on Halladay trade day. I think the Wallace fixation by the Jays was because on Brett's original draft day in June 2008 when he was selected by the Cards, the Jays sat four picks later and really wanted Wallace. Instead they settled for David Cooper, another first baseman with slightly less of everything than Wallace presented. It's like a childhood crush, then after years when you finally get that dream date, it turns out she laughs like a hyena and has table manners like a hungry bulldog. Not quite what you were expecting. As I mentioned in the previous question, Lind's bat is too good to leave out of any future mix and his outfield play frankly stinks. You hate to see guys in their mid-20s stuck at DH. Lind did play first base regularly at South Alabama. It's his and the Jays' best option.
Enjoy the mailbag, never miss as I look forward to your insights. The more I am seeing from AA, I am really becoming comfortable that the right guy is at the helm. As much as I was looking forward to see who may return for the future in trade deadline deals, I like his explanations as to why the trades didn't happen. The fact that so many of the Jays free agents are in a position to return additional picks if signed elsewhere - and AA using that as an option to avoid trading for the sake of trading impressed me. My question - I see lots of depth for a pitching staff that could lose some free agents in the minors (Accardo, the 2 pitchers from Rolen deal, Drabek etc.) Do you see some of the free agents still being attractive to the Jays at the right price or had that depth been a factor in AA valuing the picks more?
Keith Kerfoot, Aberfoyle
A-Perhaps the best thing about Anthopoulos as Jays GM is that he's not a young American looking to use the Jays' as a stepping stone to his real dream job somewhere in the U.S. of A. This is where A.A. wants to be and the fact that he worked for both the Expos and the Jays means that he is aware of all the lows and the highs involved with playing major-league ball in Canada. As far as the trade deadline is concerned, I believe that A.A. truly wanted to trade Downs and get back something spectacular. I also believe that other GMs look at his 10-month track record and are a little wary of making a deal with him at this point. I believe that three-way deals are more easily accomplished in the off-season and that his bulldog approach to staying on top of everyone else's business and trying to jump in as a third team all the time is head-spinning for many GMs. I believe that next July he will be more effective and be able to complete a deal or two that aren't max return like he insisted on this year, but good enough to improve the organization, which is what he tries to do with every trade. As far as the question of getting draft picks back for his own free agents when they leave, not so fast. For instance, if Jason Frasor ends up being a Type A free agent – of which he is the final one at this point among relievers – is there a major-league team that would be willing to give up its first round June pick to sign Frasor as a free agent or will they let him sit jobless. The best option for Frasor if he is offered arbitration by the Jays might be to accept it and be satisfied with a one-year deal and then when he's not an A go free agent and have a better chance at a better deal with more teams interested.
Q-My question is regarding stats when a player is traded. When Yunel Esobar came to the Jays, during his first at-bat, his average was reset to zero. Why do his stats not follow him to his new team? If he is having a great year or a bad year, no one on watching the new team can see it anymore. Also, does this mean that if Jose Bautista had been traded, his home run total would no longer be counted towards the league lead?
Brendyn Zachary, Toronto
A-It's simple – but dumb. When a player is traded from the AL to NL or the other way around, his statistics start at zero for that league. If the trade is within a league, then his numbers carry over. This is almost an outdated tradition with the advent of inter-league baseball and the blurring of lines between leagues. If Bautista had been traded to the NL he would still have been the AL leader in homers until someone passed him but would have been 28 homers behind Votto and Pujols for the NL lead.
I cannot help but be struck by the sudden change that's been affected by the Escobar pickup. Watching the O's and Jays it's clear that Freddy Lewis and Yunel Escobar immediately got into a veteran like Kevin Millwood's head with long leads, fake steals and fake bunt...My question: How much difference has it made having the double threat of speed and cleverness on the basepaths at the top of the order for the free swinging sluggers down the lineup, and when was the last time you can remember the Jays having weapons like this to start a game? Thanks for the answer and the constant insight into the Jays and MLB in general. If you're ever up my way swing into Chainsaw on King for a barley soda and the best Cheese-steak in town on the house.
Paul Boudreau, Waterloo
A-It may be a poor man's version of Devon White and Roberto Alomar (1991-94) but in 1999 at the top of the order, the Jays featured Shannon Stewart and Homer Bush. The second baseman hit .320 with 32 steals in 128 games while the once-dynamic Stewart batted .304 with 37 steals in 145 games. They were both disruptive forces at the top of the lineup before falling off a cliff of talent. That season Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado combined for 257 RBIs with the two disruptors on base. I was in Waterloo earlier in the summer for a MLB junior baseball camp. Sounds like Chainsaw on King might be worth the trip back.
With Escobar excelling in his move to Toronto and Adeiny Hechavarria starting to show why he was such a coveted prospects, do you think the Jays' future for the infield would be to move Hill to 3b (given the lack of 3b prospects in the system) and have an All-Cuban middle infield? And if so, who would you put at SS? Escobar and his flashy glove or Hechavarria who is supposedly very talented defensively as well?
Drew M., Willowdale
A-It's a nice problem to suddenly have for an organization that for a decade could not develop a decent shortstop in the system. The failures were personified with the drafting of Russ Adams in 2002 then Hill who was eventually moved to second base but not after a fairly comfortable stint at third in his rookie campaign. Before them was Chris Woodward. The 21-year-old Justin Jackson, although still fairly young, has been a disappointment because of his nerf-like bat and has not been able to move up in the system. Now they have a decision at shortstop and they must be smiling. As for Hill's move to third base, he said he would do it because he has been down on himself for his lack of production and long-term contract and wants to help the team. I think it would be a beautiful and imaginative DP combination with Escobar at short and Hechavarria at second base. However, there is also the option of moving Escobar to third base and leaving Hill at second. Nice problem for the Jays to have.
I'm enjoying this season a lot more than I expected, given that the BJs head office basically wrote off the season before it began. And I appreciate your insights, and would like to call on them now. We've had a pretty good chance to see all of the young players so far. So, putting aside those that are stop-gap players (like Buck and Kevin Gregg) and new acquisitions (like Escobar), which players currently on the team are making a good impression and are likely long-term fixtures? And which ones do you think have the most upside?
Richard Worzel, Toronto
A-I think the Jays' management decision to downplay the goals for this season are a reaction to the constant off-season promises of the Paul Godfrey-J.P. Ricciardi era wherein bringing hot water to the Rogers Centre washrooms ranks among the biggest accomplishments. Injuries are never a good thing, but the finger injury to John Buck has made the Jays decision easy for the moment in bringing up J.P. Arencibia and seeing what he can accomplish at the major-league level. Don't be horribly disappointed if he gets off to a slow start because the Vegas numbers are difficult to gauge in translating to the majors. He's a keeper though. I would predict that on Opening Day 2012, only Aaron Hill, Yunel Escobar and Vernon Wells will be in their same positions, with Snider starting every day at one of the corner outfield spots and Lind at first base. When Gose is ready for the majors he will become the centre fielder and an aging Wells will be shifted to right field just like Andre Dawson was and just like Torii Hunter has been. The Jays' keepers are all in the rotation where the Jays go seven deep right now with others challenging close behind from the farm system. Oh, and David Purcey in the pen.
After losing pretty much all interest in the Blue Jays as the J.P. Ricciardi regime ground on (the final straw being the ham-fisted handling of Roy Halladay last year) I now find myself coming back around and have quite enjoyed the run they've made this year. For the first time in a long time there seems to be hope for the future and I'm very interested to see how the team performs in 2011 and 2012. My question regards Jose Bautista - from what I understand, he's arbitration eligible after the season ends. What kind of money could Bautista expect in arbitration? What figure would be prohibitive for Anthopolous to keep him? After seeing what his arm can do live on Monday (vs. Baltimore) I think I'd be very happy having him in RF for the next few years.
p.s. For your money, which Blue Jay has had the best OF arm? Raul Mondesi sticks out for me, Shannon Stewart too (just kidding!). Alex Rios at the beginning of his career looked incredible (I remember film of him throwing out a tagging up Ichiro at home making the email rounds a few years back) but by the end of his term here it seemed to have left him.
Neil Therriault, Toronto
A-Jose Bautista is the most interesting Jays' dilemma of 2010. They didn't trade him at the deadline and never were going to. He is arbitration eligible 2011 and if this was his second consecutive tremendous power season they would have considered negotiating a long-term deal. But he may be like those guys that sang “Brandy” and just be a one-hit wonder or he may be like Aerosmith and just keep coming back and adapting his game to the times – although he'll likely never headline at Casino Rama. In arbitration there are never any surprises anymore. Payroll geeks (as opposed to stat geeks) can enter past arbitration data into a computer and come up within a couple of grand what a guy is likely to earn in arbitration. As such the Jays know they can afford Bautista for one season. He will likely earn somewhere between $7-8 million which is three times his current deal. That is no reason to have to trade him. The dilemma comes in July next year. If he slumps and has say 10 homers in July, the Jays would not want to sign him multi-year. If he is an all-star with 30 homers in July, they may feel they can't afford him for five years and he may want to test the market. If he's doing great again in July, that may be the time to trade him to a contender who now believes that he's the real deal. If he would sign at a reasonable price for three years I would do it during the season next year, but who knows.
P.S. Bautista has one of the best arms that I have seen as a Jay. His major attribute is that he comes over the top and the ball stay on line and cuttable. Rios, on the other hand, would sling from three-quarters and a throw to the plate would be uncuttable by Overbay as it faded back in from foul territory to the plate. Mondesi's arm reminded me of Bautista. Barfield may have been the most accurate. Shawn Green was okay. Candy Maldonado was good. When Dewayne Wise and Bautista are playing the corners, Wells looks like a popgun.
Q-Jose Bautista continues to amaze this year but haven't we seen this show before? It seems that in Toronto we have a history of overvaluing a certain player after a good year. (See: V. Wells, A. Rios, A. Hill). What if Bautista hits the 50HR mark this year? Next year, will he be considered a premier slugger like Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and A-Rod? I think we could expect Bautista to go through next year what Hill and Lind went through this year. Your thoughts?
Chad Nunn, Toronto
A-That's likely why they will not negotiate a long-term deal after this season. Bautista seems comfortable with as he puts it “going through the process”. It, in fact, would be better for him to wait because if he proves that 2010 was not a fluke, the price of doing business goes way up. The danger is that AL pitchers make the adjustments to Bautista in the off-season and Bautista is unable to make the adjustments back.
Q-Hi Richard, I think one of the best things about Cito's return a few years ago was the supporting cast that he surrounded himself with. All of our coaches seem to have brought the best out in a lot of guys. When Cito leaves does that mean they will all be leaving too? I would really hate to see them go.
Mike S., Toronto
A-Cito in October plans to take Gene Tenace and Nick Leyva and their wives on a Hawaiian golf vacation. Sounds like he and Leyva are out of the coaching mix for next year. I would suggest that the brilliant infield and third-base coach, Brian Butterfield, will interview for the Jays' manager's position. If he does not get it, he has options – like joining his old friend and mentor with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, Buck Showalter in Baltimore. Butterfield's run in Toronto has been impressive and unprecedented, working for Carlos Tosca, John Gibbons and Cito Gaston. It would seem that they will definitely hang onto pitching coach Bruce Walton who has been the anti-Brad Arnsberg in terms of preaching taking velocity away from his students instead of trying to crank it up and add wrinkles to the hard stuff. As for Rick Langford in the bullpen and Dwayne Murphy as the hitting coach, depending on the identity of the new manager, he may be allowed to pick his own guys, but Murphy has certainly done the job creating a lineup of mini-Dwayne Murphys.
Q-Richard: Always enjoy your blog! Can you please tell me why some of the K's that are posted on the the balconies of the Rogers Center after a strikeout, are backwards? Is this an oversite? Or does it signify a particular type of strikeout?
Ken Burns, Matheson
A-It's one of the ways of recording a called third strike in the scorebook. It's the most popular but I don't think it makes a difference on the type of pizza fans get for seven Ks – a horrible promotion. Why not award pizza for the team scoring seven runs or more in any game. There's nothing worse than seeing the Jays down by five runs and the payoff K is recorded and the fans roar. Dumb.
Q-Being a big Blue Jays fan living in New England, I was wondering what our triple A affiliation will be next year? I believe our 2 year contract with Las Vegas is up after this season and was wondering if there is any chance that the Blue Jays' triple A affiliate would be located in New England. I enjoy following the Fisher Cats and would love another minor league affilate in the region to go see. Thanks and I love your blog.
Sherman Wu, Boston
A-I plan on doing a column about the possible relocation of the Triple-A franchise in the near future. The Vegas thing has been an albatross around the neck of player development. They don't trust the numbers out of the Pacific Coast League and so they leave primo guys like Kyle Drabek at Double-A to get a truer read and not to discourage their prospects. Apparently the infield in Vegas is like the Caesar's Palace parking lot and the wind and heat and altitude and dimensions in the PCL make it a hitter's wet dream. They had to leave Syracuse because during the Ricciardi regime there was benign neglect of the feelings and wishes of the owners of their top affiliate. So they told the Jays to take a hike and recruited another organization. Then Buffalo changed from Cleveland and told the Jays to take a hike and went with the Mets. That left Vegas and the awkward top three Jays' levels triangle of Toronto-Vegas-Manchester, New Hampshire.
Q-Enjoy your columns on the Blue Jays, thanks. My question is what is the status of signing the balance of the unsigned draftees from the recent draft? I remember a report after the draft that McGuire, their first pick, wouldn't participate in the normal phone conference press interviews. Also that Thon's father was upset that his son had been drafted by a Canadian based team. What is the outlook of getting McGuire and the other unsigned players to commit to the Jays?
Thanks for your time.
A-According to Peter Gammons on Twitter, teams that were planning on paying their top prospects above slot value were advised by MLB not to negotiate until August 10. The deadline for signing is August 15. That way the system will not be ratcheted up by an early above-slot signing ending in a horsehide Tower of Babel in terms of first-rounder salaries. Clever these owners. If something was done like that with MLB players, the players association would likely scream collusion, but draft choices are not members of the union. Maguire will end up signing for above slot money and Thon has already signed. His father was upset, but more because the kid slipped down through the draft and had the opportunity to attend Rice University. It was a controlled rant.
Q-Do you think that with Brett Wallace being traded opens the door just a little for David Cooper? Do you think that Kevin Ahrens will pan out or is he a minor leaguer for life at best? He is only 21.
Mike Windsor, Ontario
A-David Cooper is a long way from being major league ready. He is projected as more a Mark Grace type of first baseman than an Albert Pujols. He still has time to develop but is far down the Jays' depth chart of prospects. As for Ahrens, the switch-hitter is a good looking player, but the 2009 season where he was advanced prematurely set him back and he needs to get back on track. He has a puncher's chance by 2013.