11:00 AM Central
More big Blue Jays rumours are floating around the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center (excuse the spelling – Americans, what can you do?) this morning, but I can tell you that I had a conversation today with a member of the organization who confirmed to me that the Jays are in discussions with the Giants, and at the moment they’re waiting to hear back from San Fran on a deal that would send Alex Rios to the Bay Area for one of Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum.
Word is that the Jays want Cain but the Giants only want to part with Lincecum. That’s understandable – Cain’s better, and more proven, and bigger and stronger and younger. If the Jays can pull off a deal to get Cain, they have to do it, even if it means adding something to Rios. How often do you get a chance to acquire a 23 year-old Number 1 pitcher? Last year, he threw a career-high 200 innings, and his walk and home run numbers went down from the year before. Yes, he was 7-16, but that was about as indicative of his abilities as Nolan Ryan’s 8-16 in 1987, when he also won the ERA title.
Cain is already very good, with a chance to be great. Lincecum is good, with a chance to be very good. He’d be a solid pick-up, as well, but if the opportunity to acquire Cain exists, the Jays have to go for it. It would give the Jays potentially four number one starters in Halladay, Cain, Burnett and McGowan, with Marcum or Janssen as the number five, which is arguably the best starting rotation in baseball.
Granted, if this deal happens, the Jays will have to find some offence, seeing as they’ll be dealing their most productive bat from this past season, a season in which they got great pitching, but didn’t hit enough to win.
I have to say, though, that a middle of the line-up that features Wells, Glaus, Overbay, Thomas and Stairs hitting 3-7 in whatever order should provide more than enough offense. Of course, it should have last year, too.
You fill out the bottom with Zaun and Johnny Mac, and fill out the top with Aaron Hill hitting second and……….Kenny Lofton!
I know, I’ve been pushing for the Jays to sign Lofton since the season ended, but now I finally have word that the Blue Jays are, in fact, interested in pursuing the 40 year-old to be their leftfielder and lead-off man in 2008. They think he can be had for one year plus a mutual option. I don’t know if they’ve made contact with his agent, Casey Close, but I’ll try to find out. The Jays know Close well – they were all over him last winter about another of his clients, Gil Meche.
If they sign Lofton, it gives them a real table-setter at the top of the line-up. Whether the Jays take advantage of his ability to steal bases or not (77 for 92 over the last three years), at least he’ll be on base (obp vs RH the last 3 years – .386, .379, .394). Yes, they’d need a right-handed bat to platoon with him, but Reed Johnson is perfect for that. Of course, then they’d need a right-handed bat to platoon with Stairs in right, but we can worry about that later. The good news is that they’re talking about Lofton, which they should be.
Unless, of course, they want to talk trade with the Angels for on-base machine Reggie Willits (originally Bastian’s idea, but a great one). He’s a switch-hitter, so he wouldn’t need a platoon-mate. He has a career obp of .393 in just over 550 plate appearances, but his minor-league obps were .448, .377. , .374 and .410. He’s also small and scrappy, so he’s kind of like David Eckstein, except he can actually be a productive offensive player.
Torii Hunter’s arrival in Anaheim could make Willits very available.
Also, there’s a rumour flying around that the Mets are interested in A.J. Burnett. Their best items to trade are young righties Phil Humber and Mike Pelfrey and speedy young outfielder Carlos Gomez. Given what the offers seem to be for top-flight starting pitching, I’m not sure the two of those that the Mets might be willing to give up would be enough. Of course, the Mets also have 19 year-old outfield prospect Fernando Martinez, who everybody wants.
Now, if the Mets were dumb enough to take A.J. and Glaus for David Wright, then let’s get this party started!
Lastly, there’s a rumour that the Pirates are dangling Jason Bay to the Indians, along with back-up catcher Ronny Paulino for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, back-up catcher Kelly Shoppach and lefty Cliff Lee. You can’t tell me that the Jays can’t get in on this. I’d offer Lind, Thigpen and Chacin for Paulino and Bay. Hey, Lee’s coming off a horrible year. Put Bay in right, platoon Stairs and Reed in left if Rios is gone. If not, put Bay in left. Of course, then you have to lead off Hill, but that’s not the worst thing in the world.
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