Blue Jays mailbag: Toronto's 10-player deal opens trade floodgates
Less than a week remains to the MLB trade deadline without waivers.
Interestingly, the Jays 10-player deal with the Astros, with J.A. Happ as Toronto's main acquisition, seemed to open the flesh-trading floodgates early. Since and including that Friday morning announcement there have been 11 trades involving 28 players.
The most interesting of these was the Yankees acquiring Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners for former Jays RHP Danny Farquhar and RHP D.J. Mitchell. Ichiro will take Brett Gardner's role as the Yanks have given up on getting their speedy left fielder back any time in 2012.
Amazing that the Yankees have Derek Jeter, A-Rod and Ichiro on the same roster, over 8,600 combined hits. Of course, an immediate response came from Ichiro's former teammate who drilled A-Rod and broke his hand putting the third baseman out for 6-8 weeks. The Yankees have time to go out and find a replacement as they cruise to the AL East title. It will be a busy week for Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos. However, whether he gets something done in his quest for more pitching is another story. On to the Mailbag.
Q-Minor league management questions for you. What is the objective for each level of the minors? Winning or player development? I would think player development in the lower levels is the greater objective, but then I look at the composition of the Vancouver roster and wonder if they are more focused on winning and attendance. Secondly, what goes into the thought process around promoting or demoting players. I look at some stats (I know that is not the full picture) and wonder why some players are not promoted when they seem to have mastered their level (e.g. Pillar or the Big 3 at Lansing). Then I see others (e.g. Knecht in FSL) and wonder why they are not sent down as they seem to be overmatched at their current level. And then I see players who have been at the same level for years with no signs of progress and wonder why they have not been released (e.g. Ahrens, Balbino).
Tom F, Newmarket
A-The perfect minor-league system combines winning and player development almost equally, however that is never the case. But there is an argument, especially at the upper levels of any farm system. One side of the argument says that placing young players in a winning Triple-A environment is important to their development. They ask, “How can you expect a player to win at the major-league level if he has never won at the minor-league level.” That is a good point, but not the only one.
There are other organizations that populate Triple-A with their best young prospects and let them take their lumps without the calming contributions of the veteran arms and experienced players on the way down that other organizations sprinkle through top teams to promote winning.
As for Vancouver, that is a unique situation for the Jays. The A-Northern League Canadians are a pet project for Anthopoulos. He loves the ownership, he loves the stadium, he loves the fans and he strongly believes in letting his top prospects play in Vancouver to get a feel for playing in Canada. Get the feel of a pocket full of loonies and toonies and drinking milk from a plastic bag. When they arrive in Toronto, it will all seem familiar to them. That's why No. 22 overall pick and right-handed reliever Marcus Stroman started there.
As for promotion/demotion, again there are competing theories. It's like teaching young children how to swim. Do you give them lessons and take them step-by-step or do you strap on their diapers and throw them in the deep end? The Jays are nurturers by nature and want their athletes to feel success before moving to the next level. The Lansing pitchers, for example, were given a plan that involved building from 30 pitches to 90-100 pitches. Their stats have nothing to do with eventual promotion to the next level. For the Jays, player development is a process not a reward or punishment.
I enjoy reading your articles, blogs and mailbags whenever they are posted. IMO, they are required reading for any Blue Jays fan. I've read that Jose Bautista's recovery is ahead of schedule. That got me thinking...have the Blue Jays ever DL'd someone who recovered much quicker than the 15- or 60-day period and was ready to go, but had to wait more than a day or two for the period to end?
Tavis McLean, Chatham
A-Bautista has proved through his Jays years that he has a high threshold for pain. Recall in 2011, he suffered a neck injury in New York at the end of April and after three days of solid treatment in Tampa, managed to stay off the DL and return to action. Then after the 2011 all-star game, back at the Rogers Centre, he sprained his ankle in a horrible looking baserunning accident and again stayed off the DL.
In this case, with the importance to the swing of the left hand, Bautista was disabled as soon as the MRI showed it was not a break in his left wrist after a long foul ball against David Robertson in New York. On Tuesday, manager John Farrell discussed Joey Bats rapid recovery.
“He's making good strides,” Farrell said. “As the strength exercises that he's going through are increasing we would hope that in the coming days we'd be able to put a bat back in his hands to not only go through dry swings, but off a tee. That's adjusted with how he comes through daily treatment.
“This has improved quicker than I think we all envisioned. I'm not surprised, but definitely encouraged. Because he was in significant pain that night and the three days following that, there's been a lot of improvement. All that is positive and that's not just because of what he states, but the actual strengthening and the exercises and the treatment he's going through. That's being tested and once he's out of the woods, symptom free, that's when we'll put a bat back in his hands. The next thing he's doing is there's been more manipulation of the wrist side to side rather than just straight on exercises, so that's the progressive steps. There's been no reproducing of that discomfort in those controlled settings.”
Farrell suggested Bautista may be swinging a bat and taking live batting practice by the end of the week.
Certainly over the years there would have been players ready to come back prior to the end of a disabled period, but with 15 days, that can never be considered a mistake, more like erring on the side of caution. Some players on the coin-toss, ready-or-not side of 15 days actually benefit from the enforced time out and are encouraged not to push the envelope, not to rush back to the field. It's really never a situation that's embarrassed any team. You know what they say about “better safe...”
A promising trade announcement last week. If nothing else, a relief to Francisco Cordero haters like myself. And I stand corrected after my last question re: why not release Cordero outright? AA was evidently holding on to Mr. Batting Practice because he was still worth something on the trade market. Phew.
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
A-I really do like Cordero as a person, but on Tuesday the Astros were welcomed to his world as Drew Stubbs homered in the ninth and the Reds rallied for three runs vs. CoCo. Another blown save. At the same time, J.A. Happ was giving up his own three-spot in the seventh vs. the A's.
Do you think that the Jays - given the fact that at least 3 of their starters are injured, may seriously work on getting a couple of experienced starters come the trade deadline?
Tony D'Souza, Toronto
A-I continue to insist that J.A. Happ is not the final move that GM Alex Anthopoulos is trying to do. He and the Jays could use another solid, controllable starter and even if he does not accomplish his goal by July 31, it doesn't mean he did not make every effort. Happ will be in the rotation soon.
I really don't like AA's approach to waiting for last moment to possibly make a trade. He's too attached to his farm studs for one and secondly, by the time the Jays go through their tough schedule (Yankees/Red Sox) they will be well under .500 and now no Bautista. This team needs an extended winning streak and it can't happen with these starters at hand. It's a shame but the wild card hunt will have to wait till next year. The Leafs slogan can now be applied to the Jays..."There's always next year"
Kam H, Richmond Hill
A-I hope the Leafs are not taking credit for that version of the “Wait until next year” rallying cry that goes back to the pre-WWII Brooklyn Dodgers. As for AA allegedly waiting till the last moment to make a trade, he, in fact, always seems to be the most anxious man in the room to make a deal and make it right now.
The 10-man trade with the Astros set off a flurry of pre-deadline activity that may not have happened if AA had not pulled off his early deal. I'm not so sure he's overly attached to his draft choices, his farm studs, as it is that he wants to prioritize his inventory properly and not give away the wrong prospects. He deserves that right to not be rushed.
As for not being able to put together a significant win streak with this starting rotation, you are correct. It's something that will stall any Jays hopes for a wild card.
Just going to throw out a trade idea to hear your thoughts on why it could/couldn't happen from each end.
The Marlins are slowly falling out of the playoff picture and are likely to become sellers. Do you think that there is a chance that for the right price they would be willing to part ways with their recently acquired SP Mark Buehrle? He has the type of contract that AA likes and can be here for a few years. The Marlins would likely ask for young OF prospects back and young pitching which the Jays have plenty of. Could you see the Jays giving up a combination of one of their Lugnuts pitchers, Gose/Snider/Thames and either Yan Gomes or another middle of the pack prospect? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Josh Cymbalista, Thornhill
A-The Marlins seem to be in the mood to listen to offers on anyone, but the fact that the Jays did not seem that interested in signing Buehrle when he was a free agent makes it seem unlikely that they would be interested now, at a point in time when they would have to pay Buehrle's free-agent salary PLUS give up some prime prospects. If the price in players was cheap AA might be interested, but if the price was steep then why bother. They should have made their best effort when he was a free agent.
Q-Thanks for the great blog. I am a fan of the Jays but still miss the Expos. My question is on J Bautista's fielding ability. During the last series with Boston JB played a ball off the fence poorly and the Boston commentators commented that he was a below average fielder with an above average arm. Is that the feeling around the league?
M Swain, Seeleys Cove
A-The rap that Bautista has picked up as a below-average fielder is one that some of the range-factor advocates have argued on paper through the past three seasons, so the myth is picked up by broadcasters and repeated as fact by those that have not seen a lot of the Jays in person. Bautista is not a below average fielder, if only because of his baseball smarts and knowledge of the game. He does have an above average arm. Bautista is appreciated more the more you see him play.
The more I watch Yunel Escobar in the field the more I am convinced that he needs to go. On two occasions in the last few games (the most recent being G2 at Yankee Stadium) he has come across the diamond to steal pop up outs away from what I see as an annoyed Kelly Johnson. Earlier in the same Yankee game Escobar flipped the ball behind his back with men on base to an unsuspecting Johnson. I believe that the relationship between the two is poor and that Escobar, his sense of entitlement and constant glances to the cameras while in the dugout need to be traded and replaced by Hechavarria who appears ready for the majors.
Adam M, Waterloo
A-There is an accepted priority on balls in the air that all baseball teams follow and in that century-old pecking order, the shortstop has priority over every other player in the infield. So if Escobar can comfortably catch a popup, it is acceptable that he can call off any of his infield mates.
The ball flipped behind the back was kind of silly for Escobar but there was never any danger of a runner advancing because it wasn't a hard toss towards an open part of the field.
Johnson has every right in the world at this stage of the season to look annoyed – but mostly at himself. His hitting ability has slowly faded and his ability to make contact has reached alarming levels of whiff-dom. If the relationship between Escobar and Johnson is poor, then why on earth should the survivor be Johnson? He is a free agent at the end of the year and the odds of the Jays moving forward with the 30-year-old are slim. Escobar can be frustrating and annoying as his snooty Braves teammates might tell you, but to dismiss his skills and contributions would be a mistake.
Let Hechavarria earn his spot, don't give it to him. If you are annoyed by Escobar glancing at you in your living room, then the problem is yours.
NOTE: He can't actually see you when he constantly looks into the camera. In fact, he might be more annoyed at the red light going on and the television camera invading his privacy than the other way around.
Q-With all of the injuries that are suffered by MLB pitchers, I've been wondering if it's time to implement the pitching version of Moneyball.
It has become clear over the years that throwing a baseball 90+ mph an excess number of innings is not sustainable for a large percentage of MLB pitchers. Injuries are inevitable, and many of those of the long-term variety requiring significant surgery and lengthy rehab. And with these injuries, huge chunks of roster salary are in effect wasted that in mind, I've been wondering if it is time to re-consider the whole concept of what constitutes a pitching staff and how that staff is employed.
Rather than spending in excess of $30 million, (or much, much more) on five starting pitchers, plus something like $8 million on one closer, plus an additional $12 million or so on 5 or 6 middle relievers, why not this: a group of 12 pitchers that pitch an average of 3 innings per game.
On this roster, there are no starters, there are no closers, and there are no set-up men. They are interchangeable parts of an elite roster that can be mixed and matched to provide the best matchups every game.
Instead of your $50 million average pitching roster that is prone to breaking down, you could have an elite pitching roster at a cost of $30 million that is much less prone to injury.
Imagine the following pitching roster (approximate 2012 salary in brackets):
Vinnie Pestano ($490K) ; Jason Grilli ($1.1M); Joaquin Benoit ($5.5M); Sean Burnett ($2M) ; Mike Adams ($ 4.4M); Scott Downs ($5M) ; Sergio Romo ($1.6M); Matt Thornton ($6M) ; Luke Gregerson ($1.6M) ; David Hernandez ($1.25M); Sean Marshall ($2.4M); Tyler Clippard ($1.65M).
This staff would cost $33 million; give you an ERA of around 2.00, a WHIP of around 1.00, and a crazy K/9 innings rate. Basically, you'd have the best pitching staff in the entire league - by a mile.
If you employed a consistent strategy of rotating them in every 3 innings you get additional benefits: each pitcher would top out at about 120 innings per year, thus reducing arm/elbow/shoulder strain etc.; every game the opposing team would rarely have a batter see the same pitcher twice, which would in effect lower batting average against even further (batters can't develop rhythm, learn from previous at-bats, etc).
And the biggest benefit of all might be the extra cash available to spend on the offence. Imagine if the Jays maintained their current payroll parameters, but spending $20 million more per year on offense while carrying an elite pitching staff. WIN-WIN.
Scott Postma, Waterdown
A- I don't know what they're putting in the water in Waterdown, but that's so crazy it just might work. No, just kidding. There's no chance it will work and not because it does not have merit, but because innovation is something that must be widely accepted and at that point it is no longer innovation.
Recall that Canadian hero and Hall-of-Fame old schooler, Ferguson Jenkins had a shot as pitching coach of the Cubs for about half a season. His idea was that the Cubs would go back to a four-man rotation and throw a lot more between starts. The problem is that 29 of 30 teams still used the five-man rotation and all the kids coming up through all the systems were training to pitch every fifth day. Fergie may have had a good idea, but the players he was dealing with were not prepared to jump into such a system. The same with your 12 pitchers times three innings scenario.
These are humans. There are injuries, failures, etc. Looking back and analyzing what players have done in the past is different than actually having them go out and do it live.
Q-A big fan, but you've grumbled a few times about the Jays' draft strategy this season, and I'm still not clear about why you don't like it. It has been many years since players were selected solely on the basis of their talent level, and strategy has always played a large role. What is so different about the way the Jays approached the draft this year?
Neil Paris, Toronto
A-Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man, but the new draft rules were instituted for bad reasons, as a soft salary cap in a sport that has managed to be very competitive with no salary cap, and teams like the Jays have invented ways to beat it.
I didn't agree with the new rules when they were announced and I don't agree with the Jays drafting an embarrassing list of undeserving baseball players from Rounds 4-10 and signing them for a total of $31,000 then using the savings to go after the guys they really want.
The report is that the Jays were within $541 of reaching the 5-percent over slot and thus losing a high draft pick in the 2012 draft. When an accountant needs to be in the draft room with a calculator then something is wrong with the system. The players union threw high schoolers and collegians under the bus and traded off their signing rights for something that card-carrying union members wanted.
How in the world did the Jays miss out on Ben Sheets?? Desperate for pitching, and they couldn't have taken a flyer on him .... and I gather he was unsigned as of June 30 this year? It's still early days on Sheets with the Braves, but my goodness, what was to lose?
David Williams, Oakville
A-That's a silly question. How did the Jays miss out on Ben Sheets? You've got to be kidding. The free-agent world is filled with guys like Ben Sheets and every team invites a couple of Ben Sheets to spring training or stage private off-season workouts in the hope of catching lightning in a bottle.
Wait until the end of the season before evaluating the Sheets experiment. It's like being in a hotel and pulling the blanket up over you and nestling down into a comfortable bed to watch Baseball Tonight. Everything is great, then six hours later you wake up and find out you've been short-Sheets-ed. What looked and felt great at one point turned out to be a mirage. Time will tell, but this is not the 2004 Ben Sheets.
Q-Given the plethora of injuries to pitchers on just about every team, isn't it maybe time to consider adding a 26th man to the roster just to have that extra arm available instead of the constant - and confusing - shuffling of minor leaguers up and down?
J.D. Tamblyn, Lindsay
A-I have long been a proponent the past three or four years of adding two more players to every major-league roster and making it 27 active.
Back in the 80s, most teams went with a 10-man pitching staff meaning there were always 15 position players. That six-man bench, seven in the NL, made managing and second-guessing much more interesting. But the Jays for a while this year were carrying eight relievers and five starters, meaning there were just three players on the bench, one of them being a backup catcher that must stay on the bench in case of a catcher injury. Not much managing to be done.
The idea of 27 major-league players would cost each team about $1 million additional in salary plus travelling and living expenses for the season if they chose rookies with particular skill-sets, but that's chump change considering the money that's thrown around for nothing these days.
How about 27 players on the roster, but you must designate 25 of them to be active each night. That means that you could have your eight relievers, but activate just seven of them, or even six of them each night and give yourself more versatility as a manager. The union would love it and it would benefit the competitive nature of the game. It would not be favoured by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce that has seen a tourism boom of flights in and out of town since the Jays moved there.
Re the Jays pitchers' injuries: Your colleague Kennedy's column has the list. It appears as "bad luck". Nothing wrong with the basic routine. BUT what if the young ones lack fastball command? And therefore are taught-encouraged to throw pitches that can hurt? And, worst of all, get sent to T. John surgery as a matter of routine.
Is it too conspiratorial to think that THIS in fact has become the system? That the surgery means teams can load up on pitchers with lots of breaking pitches and their pain be damned. What a shame it would be if 100 years after the sidearm and submarine pitchers of yesteryear
(throwing with a much more anatomically healthy motion - ours arms after all do HANG DOWN -) went the way of the dodo bird we now have a situation where almost no one pitches complete games, medical science rebuilds the broken. There are many ironies in this tale. It deserves more analysis.
Charles Novogrodsky, Toronto
A-How about this 10-man pitching staff of all-time sidearmers/submariners: Carl Mays, Ted Abernathy, Kent Tekulve, Dan Quisenberry, Mark Eichhorn, Steve Olin, Mike Myers, Chad Bradford, Byung-Hyun Kim and Mike Venafro. By contrast, the Royal Canadian Navy has just four submarines.
As for your conspiracy theory, I'm as big a fan of conspiracies as anyone alive, but this one about intentionally damaging elbows to perform Tommy John and bring them back healthy tests even my conspiracy-consumed brain. I wonder why Tommy John never copyrighted his name. If he was paid every time someone mentioned the surgery he'd be a very wealthy man.
It seems to be the Year of the Pitching Injury. The last couple of seasons have seen more and more pitchers heading off to Dr James Andrews' clinic, but this year is ridiculous. A second Tommy John surgery for Drabek? Are managers tougher on pitchers? Are pitchers trying to throw harder? Or is it a statistical anomaly?
Paul B, England
A-I have a theory that won't be very popular at the Commissioner's Office. I believe that the new MLB drug policies have affected the number of pitchers that get injured. It's not just recreational drugs and steroids that are banned. The banned stimulant list includes 56 types of drugs:
Adrafinil Amfepramone (diethylproprion) Amiphenazole Amphetamine Amphetaminil Armodafinil Benfluorex Benzphetamine Benzylpiperazine Bromantan Carphedon Cathine (norpseudoephedrine) Chloroamphetamine Clobenzorex Cropropamide Crotetamide Dimethylamphetamine Ephedrine Etamivan Ethylamphetamine Etilefrine Famprofazone Fenbutrazate Fencamfamine Fenethylline Fenfluramine Fenproporex Furfenorex Heptaminol Isometheptene Meclofenoxate Mefenorex Mesocarb Mephentermine Methamphetamine (methylamphetamine) Methylenedioxyamphetamine Methylephedrine Methylhexaneamine (dimethylamylamine, DMAA) Methylphenidate Modafinil Nikethamide Norfenefrine Norfenfluramine Octopamine Oxilofrine Pemoline Pentetrazol Phentermine Phenpromethamine Prenylamine Prolintane Phendimetrazine (phenmetrazine) Propylhexedrine Pyrovalerone Sibutramine Tuaminoheptane.
The trade-off of cleaning up baseball is long-term gain for short-term pain. That's a good trade-off for the athletes well-being as humans in the long-run as they age, but right now, baseball is an everyday grind and 162 games is something that the human body is not equipped to handle. For years, baseball players found artificial help to get through the season, but now they are being tested and penalized. The trade-off may be more trips to the DL. In addition, with the success rate for Tommy John surgery rising to 83-88 percent, clubs and players seem more ready to have the procedure done sooner rather than later so they can resume their careers while still young.
Just watching Sunday's Indians game and wondering about Derek Lowe. A crafty veteran who still has the right stuff - could he be the "Jack Morris" piece to next year's pitching puzzle? I believe he's a free agent after this season.
Rod Salloum, Vancouver
A-It's an insult to Jack Morris to compare him to Derek Lowe. The answer is no.
What's going on with the Jays pitchers. There have been too many with season ending injuries that are requiring surgery. It's too coincidental to have this many pitchers out in one season. Is it poor training or poor preparation. The bright side is that over the course of the next two years they will be back.
Doug Peat, Dorchester
A-See my column on Tuesday. The Jays are studying the issue.
Q-Hi Richard -
Baseball more than any other of the Big 4 North American sports places a strong importance of the history of the game. This year they're celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. Wrigley Field will be 100 in 2 years. (Personally I think it’s a sewer). But stadia such as Rogers Centre seem to lack a connection to the past (Other than the names listed on the Level of Excellence).
Could you suggest that they return to acknowledging 5th deck homers or those off the Windows restaurant) with permanent markers of where the balls landed for the Jays and other teams. Perhaps marking the seat where the ball landed with a different colour with a name and date. Might add some history to an otherwise sterile building.
Bo Buczko, Toronto
A-I agree with you about the hidden history of the Rogers Centre, uh, SkyDome. I would go back and have a fan poll about the 10 greatest moments in Dome history starting with Joe Carter's home run and commemorate them in a museum-like area of the main concourse. Maybe bring in the players involved in the 10 moments for a dedication of that area some time and keep adding new ones as they occur.
Let's see, No. 10 moment on my list would be Paul Godfrey bringing hot water to the taps of the main floor washrooms back in the summer of '05. Ah, those were the days.
Love your work and appreciate your time to interact with the everyday Jays fan. I am hoping you can clarify something for me. With the trade deadline fast approaching, all you hear from the media is that with all of the injuries the Jays have faced they can't possibly be buyers this year. How does the loss of a few fringe starters affect their chances of making the playoffs? It's not like anyone could possibly believe they would succeed with any of the three rookies as the #3 starter so they were going to need to add pitching anyways. I get the loss of Morrow, but he appears to be on his way back and will certainly be healthy by the late push in September. And I would understand if Bautista was done for the year, but the way I see it this team could be right there to the end with one or two solid to great starters and at least one more reliever. Their offence is clearly as good as anyone right now. Am I completely off base? Also, a fun hypothetical trade question. Morneau for Lind. Who says no?
Jon K, Aurora
A-As you are suggesting, the injuries to pitchers may have been a painful blessing in disguise. Sometimes AA has the ability to overthink a situation. He did not chase Gio Gonzalez hard in the off-season because he didn't believe he threw enough strikes to be successful in the uber-patient AL East. GG then went to the NL East and became an all-star. As a result, AA goes out and gets J.A. Happ whose walks to strikeouts and walks to innings would lead one to ask the same questions about competing in the AL East. We forget that Anthopoulos is still learning his craft as well.
The painful blessing is that AA now realizes that he should have sacrificed inventory for veteran help in the off-season. They had confidence that Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire would be ready by the time injuries hit, but the ended up with Joel Carreno and Jesse Chavez. They need help and they likely were not going to win with the five men that started the season, especially of the plan was to shut Hutchison down at 150 innings. Morrow will be back in mid-August if he stays healthy.
Q-Reading about Warren Cromartie's Montreal Baseball Project fills me with nostalgia about the great Expo teams. My question for you is this - If Montreal is able to resurrect a baseball team (AA or AAA since I don't think that they will be able to support a MLB team at this point), who do you think will be the likely MLB team to establish a farm system in Montreal?
In Edwin's recent contract I see the influence of Jose Bautista. You can see that the two get along really well and complement each other in the line-up. After watching the Home Run Derbies the past three years I can see the same sort of respect and admiration being expressed between Bautista and Big Papi (Ortiz wanted Bautista on the home run team in 2010 and this year he acted as an adviser to help him). I know it's a long shot, but do you see the Jays aggressively pursuing Ortiz as a FA based on Bautista and Ortiz's perceived mutual respect and admiration.
I can easily see a line-up of Bautista in RF batting third with Big Papi as the DH batting fourth and Edwin playing 1st Base and batting fifth hitting a combined 100+ HRs - A modern re-creation of the Yankee's Murderers Row.
That, coupled with an aggressive move to acquire a proven veteran pitcher like Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee would be enough for them to not only compete for the 2nd WC position but quite possibly win the Division
Forever an Expo's fan -
PS - Did you pick Miami's park as one of the worst because of the owner's former association with Montreal?
Mike Tremblay, Vernon, BC
A-Montreal would need an acceptable ballpark and would need solid ownership and would need to start at A or Double-A. The affiliate team is impossible to pinpoint at this point. Ottawa is in there as well. It would be nice to have them both with pro baseball.
As for Papi and Bats and Edwin, if the Jays were to pursue Ortiz in the off-season it would not be because he was friends with Bautista. There is no room for sentiment in baseball – unless it involves Dustin McGowan. At some point Papi is going to run out of bullets and that's a case where you're risking getting a player as he falls off a cliff with an empty gun.
The Jays are moving towards contending and it will be interesting to see which player inspires them in the off-season to spend money and take that final step to fill in the starting pitching hole.
As for Miami's Stadium, the people who orchestrated the building of the stadium are friends of mine from the Montreal days, but in person the facility was a disappointment. However, if I had a ranking of best and worst owners, I would rank Marlins ownership the same as the stadium. THAT would be because of the owner's former association with Montreal.
There are now other pitchers injured – Perez and Frasor. We were lucky that Alvarez is okay, but is he really okay? Morrow, Drabek and Hutchison are injured. And all the talk is going towards who can the Jays trade for? But let's change the focus. Who is going to figure out why all these injuries to pitchers have happened over the years? I am sorry but when you look back over the last few years at the pitcher injuries it appears to me that this is something more than bad luck. It continues to occur, and it is not being addressed. Let's look at the history that I can find on the internet:
In March 2006 a heading on the Jays' website said Scott Downs is the latest pitcher to go down; Downs was slated to step in as the temporary fifth starter in the first week of the season so A.J. Burnett can continue his steady recovery from an elbow injury in March. In April 16, 2006 the Jays took A.J. Burnett off the 15-day DL. Seven days later, Burnett was back on the DL again, citing a sore right elbow. On June 11 2006 left-hander Gustavo Chacin was headed to the DL with a strained left elbow. When the Jays activated Chacin, they placed Pete Walker on the DL with a shoulder injury. Walker came off the DL on June 28, and was back on it by July 8 with a right shoulder strain. On August 9, Justin Speier went to the DL with tightness in his right forearm.
In April 2007, pitchers that went to the DL with arm injuries included Brandon League, B.J. Ryan, and Gustavo Chacin. In June, AJ Burnett took his usual position on the DL. On August the 13, Brandon League again hit the DL in time for Burnett to return. Reliever Casey Janssen also suffered an injury that wouldn't see him return until early 2009. He missed all of 2008 due to shoulder problems.
In 2008, trips to the DL with arm related issues included Brian Wolfe, Shawn Marcum twice, Dustin McGowan twice and Brian Tallet. Their 3-4-5 pitchers in 2008 all underwent Tommy John surgery: Jesse Litsch, Marcum and McGowan. Dustin McGowan had right labrum surgery after the 2008 season. After the 2008 season Shawn Marcum had Tommy John surgery to repair ligaments in the pitching elbow. Marcum and Litsch underwent Tommy John surgeries in late 2008 and early 2009 respectively.
In 2009 Ricky Romero and BJ Ryan were placed on the disabled list. Others that have made a stop on the DL that year included Ryan, Ricky Romero, Bobby Ray, Casey Janssen, Scott Downs, Scott Richmond, and Roy Halladay.
In 2010 Richmond and Dirk Hayhurst were injured.
A few years ago when these injuries occurred we were saying wait until Drabek and others came. OK we waited and now Drabek and Hutchison are injured. We traded for Morrow and he is injured. Now we are being told to wait again. How many more times do we have to go through this? Have the same training staff been with the team all this time? Is there any way to look back over the past six years and compare injuries to Jays pitchers to the injuries to the other 29 teams' pitchers? I strongly suspect that the Jays would be no. 1.Why is the cause of the problem not being addressed?
Bruce Hutchison, Winnipeg
A-What's your point?
I'm curious to know what is the cost/fee to perform Tommy John surgery? And do the Blue Jays receive a discount for their frequent business on the procedure?
Omair Rana, Chicago
A-I asked AA and he said it's paid for by insurance so he's not really sure how much it is. That's the same attitude I have with my bills at home. Just sign it.
As for any discount, I'm not sure if there's a 2-for-1 special ever but I d know that I have been told never have Tommy John surgery on a Friday afternoon when the doc is headed to the cottage.
Always enjoy your column. Lots of talk about baseball rather than salaries or rumours. One of the most fascinating stereotypes in baseball involves small (short) right-handed pitchers. A small, left-handed pitcher is crafty and baffling. Whitey Ford (yes, I'm old) was the classic, Hall of Fame, crafty lefty. Small right-handed pitchers are, well, little guys. I recall that when the Expos got Pedro Martinez from the Dodgers, the experts lamented that he was a small, right-handed pitcher. i.e. not good. Ramon would have been a better guy to get. Should we in Jayland be pleased or worried about the Jays signing Marcus Stroman who's just a little guy?
Timothy Daniels, Toronto
A-There has been an unnatural bias against short right-handers. But there have been some good ones, led by Pedro Martinez, Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown, Smokey Joe Wood, Tim Lincecum, Tom Gordon and Jason Frasor. Stroman is a good one and that bias is disappearing. He will get a chance, perhaps as early as September, but, if not, he will surely get a spring training invite next year.
Just wondering about something. When there is a rain delay, what happens with the players that are already on base, do they have to stay there until they continue play or call the game? I heard someone on radio say that they have to stay on base, and when once the umps decided to continue a game the next day the poor guy had to stay all night. Is this really true?
Anne Guenther, North York
A-A fine question with which to end the mailbag. Someone left my catcher in the rain and I'll never have that recipe again.