Blog Entry

Offseason Outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

Posted on: October 3, 2008 4:25 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2008 12:12 am

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Blue Jays.  Here's the roster:

C - Rod Barajas - $2.5MM (club option)
C - Curtis Thigpen - $400K
1B - Lyle Overbay - $7MM
2B - Aaron Hill - $2.59MM (cleared for physical activity in October?)
SS - Marco Scutaro - $1.1MM
3B - Scott Rolen - $11MM
IF - John McDonald - $1.9MM
IF - Jose Bautista - $1.8MM+
IF/OF - Joe Inglett - $400K
LF - Travis Snider - $400K
CF - Vernon Wells - $10MM
RF - Alex Rios - $5.9MM
DH - Adam Lind - $400K

SP - Roy Halladay - $14.25MM
SP - Jesse Litsch - $400K
SP - Dustin McGowan - $404K (shoulder surgery July '08)
SP - Casey Janssen - $404K (shoulder surgery March '08)
SP - David Purcey - $400K

RP - B.J. Ryan - $10MM
RP/SP - Scott Downs - $3.75MM
RP - Jesse Carlson - $400K
RP - Jason Frasor - $1.125MM+
RP - Brian Tallet - $640K+
RP - Jeremy Accardo - $400K
RP - Brandon League - $400K+

Other bullpen candidates: Brian Wolfe - $400K, Shawn Camp - $412K+

Other rotation candidates: Scott Downs, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil

I have the Jays with about $80MM committed plus arbitration raises to Bautista, Frasor, and League.  After that they'll still be under $85MM.  The Blue Jays entered '08 with a $98MM payroll, so they should have over $13MM+ to spend.  '09 payroll will apparently be "appropriate, but not significantly higher" than in '08.

Let's start with the rotation.  Looks shaky, which shows you how quickly starting pitching depth can evaporate.  The Jays will need one of McGowan and Janssen to return successfully from shoulder surgery, or for Downs to convert successfully back to starting.  They'd look a lot better with another veteran starter.  But do the math - if payroll stays the same the Jays will barely be able to squeeze in A.J. Burnett at $15-18MM.  I don't see Burnett remaining with the Jays.

The Blue Jays had a below-average offense in 2008.  Maybe full seasons of Wells, Lind, Hill, and Snider can remedy that.  The clearest position to upgrade via free agency is shortstop, where Rafael Furcal is tempting.  A DH type like Milton Bradley, Jason Giambi, or Raul Ibanez could work if the Jays don't mind sitting Snider or Lind.

Toronto seems to have a surplus in the bullpen, though not as much if Downs goes to the rotation.  If he stays in the pen, J.P. Ricciardi should aggressively shop Ryan.  Ryan at two years, $20MM looks decent in a weak closer market.  That'd free up $10MM in '09 payroll without weakening the team much.  With that the Jays might be able to afford Furcal plus a free agent starter.  Even then they'd need a lot of things to go right to snag a playoff spot in 2009.


Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2008 11:19 am

Offseason Outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

MANNY!!! That is what the Jays need to do.  He is one strange bird, but I would love to see him in TO.  I would love for them to bring Burnett back, but that may not be possible.  He had a great 2nd half of the year and seems to be panning out nicely.  I worry that his performance was driven by his contract and not his composition.  I know that he and Doc had a nice rivalry going, so it might make Doc happy to keep him.

The way I see it, the Jays are just one or two pieces away from being the best team in the league.  If they add a DH, keep Burnett, and shore up a shortstop that can hit at least .280, then the Jays will win the East have a great shot at winning the World Series.  Now is the time for the organization to spend the money and bring another championship up north.  Since I live in Buffalo, I love to watch the Yankee fans complain that TO should not be in MLB. 

Since: Oct 1, 2008
Posted on: October 4, 2008 4:09 pm

Offseason Outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

Personally, I'm not sure whether I want to see Burnett back next year or not. Great season in 2008, but after pitching so many innings this year and with his sketchy health history, I think he's primed for another injury riddled season. Maybe this is the beginning of Burnett emerging as the elite arm he's capable of being, but I think a injury setback is more likely... at 15-18 mil. I think its too risky for the Jays. I think Brad Penny or Derek Lowe might provide the same kind of production for considerably less money.

Second, I've heard a lot about their possible interest in Furcal. Seems to me that every year the Jays go out in search of a starting shortstop, and it has never panned out... even in the early 90s it was an inconsistent position for them. Furcal's a great ballplayer, but the Jays now have A LOT of middle infielders in Scutaro, McDonald, Bautista and Inglett. None of these guys are all-stars, but they've earned the right to considerable playing time. In a season during which none of the team's top bats made a serious impact, these guys elevated their game... especially Scutaro and Inglett. I'd like to see Scutaro and McDonald platoon at shortstop, and start Inglett until Hill is totally healthy. Its not the traditional approach to the position, but there's plenty to be said for a little grit, clutch hitting, and high caliber defense.

With the money saved on Furcal the Jays could address the most pressing issue: a productive power bat between Rios and Wells. Giambi might be a good call, but I don't see him as being a better signing than Frank Thomas was two years ago (and of course that ended disastrously). Giambi has proven that he's not just a product of the steroid era. He's a legitimate slugger with a good eye and reputation for coming through in the clutch... he's also said to be very good in the clubhouse. Nonetheless, I think the 30 and 100 that he put up this year is at least partly due to hitting in a lineup stacked with future hall of famers... not something the Jays can give him. Bradley's a head case... great year in Texas, but I'd pass on him. Ibanez seems like an excellent choice. He's quietly been one of the most productive hitters in baseball for the last five years, and he's done it on some pretty week ballclubs. Or maybe, in my wildest dreams, they'll make a run at Manny... but probably won't happen.

Finally, Ryan might be good trade bait. Bullpens are so unreliable from year to year that its risky to trade one of your most consistent arms. It would, however, free up 10 million and bring in a prospect or two (both of which the Jays could use). Brandon League also looks like he could be ready to fulfill his billing as closer of the future. And with Janssen and Accardo both back the Jays will have an even deeper bullpen than last year. I'm curious to see whether Jesse Carlson will continue to be a reliable late-inning guy or whether he's just this year's Pat Neshek. And if Shawn Camp is on the roster next year I'm going to cry... he's garbage.

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