12:55 AM Eastern

I might have to reassess my nickname choice for the Blue Jays’ annual meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders, because this year there wasn’t a single question about the food at Rogers Centre, nor was there one about any of the amenities at the ballpark, or the stadium itself, for that matter.

As far as the french fries served at the event, they were OK.  A little overdone and kinda greasy, which is an unusual combo.

There were a number of very interesting things about this year’s get-together, not the least of which is that it was held on the same day as Barack Obama’s historic inauguration and that most of the media got stunningly little notice that it was even going on.  One wonders if the Jays were trying to fly this one under the radar a little bit, given their inactivity this off-season and the resounding dirges sung by a great many fans this winter.

The spotlight was on Paul Beeston and Cito Gaston, two icons of the Jays’ glory years who have returned to try to help bring the franchise back to those days of greatness.  Beeston was greeted warmly, and Gaston with a resounding standing ovation – applause so great that the first thing he did was suggest he should leave and come back in, in order to get some more.

Both Beeston and Gaston got up from the head table to make opening remarks, but J.P. Ricciardi did not.  However, once the questions started coming from the audience, Ricciardi didn’t take a backseat at all.

You can hear a few dozen clips from the event and some voicers that I did playing on the Fan throughout tonight and (hopefully) tomorrow, but I can go into greater depth here, obviously, so here we go:

First, Beeston.  The “interim” president (he doesn’t expect to have a successor in place before Spring Training, and the list of potentials is still over a dozen) loves the fact that the Jays are in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, believing that kind of competition brings out the best in his team.  He said that the Jays’ goal is to eventually be on an even footing with those powerhouses as far as payroll goes, and that Toronto is a big enough city with the fan support to be able to make that happen, but in order to get there, the team has to win first.  Beeston said that it’s important for the Jays to be competitive every year, and that he believes in the farm system, in the young pitching and in the front office.  He hopes that Ricciardi will stay on as General Manager for “years to come”, but also said that the onus is on J.P. and Cito to get the Jays to win this year.

Beeston said again, as he did on the Fan last month, that it didn’t make sense to him for the Jays’ payroll to be at $100 million.  That if it wasn’t going to be $120 million, it may as well be $80 million, which is where it has settled.  He did say, however, that taking a step back in payroll this year might allow the Jays to do more financially next year, when they get Shaun Marcum back and young players like Travis Snider, Adam Lind, David Purcey and Brett Cecil (to name a few) have some more big-league time under their belts and the team should be in a far better position to contend.

Beeston said that he’s excited about the season to come, and that he expects it to be a lot of fun – because after all, isn’t that what games are supposed to be?

Gaston said that, like Beeston, he believes the Jays are moving forward, not backward, but that there are a lot of issues to address on the pitching side.  He said he is really looking forward to seeing the young arms on their way up come Spring Training – players like Cecil, the Romero brothers (no relation), Brad Mills and Marc Rzepcyznski, among others.  Cito mentioned that in order to avoid another mediocre April, he will approach the last week of Spring Training as though it’s the real deal, with starters playing seven or eight innings, getting three or four at-bats per game, as opposed to the more recent day-on, day-off, six-inning stints we’ve been seeing.

He added that the team needs Lyle Overbay and Scott Rolen to hit.  He says he expects 20-25 homers from Overbay, 25-30 from Rolen and even more from Alex Rios, who Cito said is going to be a superstar.  Gaston was asked about Rios’ not-infrequent focus issues, and asked for patience, saying that Rios is young yet.

Gaston mentioned as well that the Jays from 1982-1993 took plenty of rounds of extra hitting, and that this year’s edition will do so as well.  He talked specifically about John McDonald, saying that he’s been pigeon-holed as a hitter who has to take the ball the other way to be successful, but that he’s never been taught how to take the ball the other way properly.  They’ll work with him on that in Dunedin, and we may see more of Johnny Mac in 2009 than we did last season.

As for Ricciardi, he got the biggest laugh of the night when a questioner went through a few names of available free agents, starting with Orlando Hudson.  As the fan continued his list, he added “I won’t even bring up Adam Dunn” and J.P. came back with “Neither will I.”

On a more serious note, Ricciardi said that a lot of time this year will be spent on giving the young kids a good, long look at the big leagues.  He said that the Jays didn’t get in on Jason Giambi because they’re committed to playing Travis Snider and so Giambi would have taken at-bats away from Adam Lind, which they didn’t want.  He also, surprisingly, said that adding Giambi would have made the Jays too lefty-heavy.  Actually, he used the word “dominant”.  I didn’t get that, because last I checked, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, Scott Rolen, Rod Barajas and Marco Scutaro hit right-handed. That would be two-thirds of the regular starting line-up.  Also, if Giambi was going to take playing time away from Lind, that’s not adding a lefty, it’s replacing one with another.

Ricciardi also said that the Jays aren’t necessarily done with their off-season moves, that they’re always looking to augment what they have offensively, and if the right guy falls into their price range, they’d move on him.  Again, though, he mentioned the desire to add a right-handed bat.

From the pitching side, J.P. said that there is nothing holding Casey Janssen back health-wise, and that he’ll come to camp as a member of the rotation, leaving competition for the fifth spot (behind Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch, David Purcey and Janssen) to a group that includes Scott Richmond, Matt Clement, Mike Maroth and Brett Cecil.  I asked Ricciardi if he might hold Cecil back to keep his innings down, and he said no.  Cecil will have a chance to make the rotation out of Spring Training, and if he makes the team, he makes the team.  He added that Cecil isn’t a candidate to pitch out of the bullpen.

As far as free agent pitchers are concerned, Ricciardi said that he didn’t see any out there (that the Jays could afford) who were any better than the kids could be if they were given an opportunity.

As far as a certain ace pitcher who is going to be eligible for free agency in two years, Ricciardi said the Jays have no plans to trade Roy Halladay.  They believe that the team will be a contender in 2010, and that Halladay will be a big piece of that. Ricciardi also said that the plan is to have money available after 2010 to be able to recommit to Halladay, and that the Jays will do everything they can to keep him in their uniform.

I mentioned Beeston’s comment that he hopes that Ricciardi is here as general manager for a long time (while also saying that the onus was upon him to win this year – not a Championship, but to win), but J.P. was non-committal when asked about his future.  He said, as he always has, that his family is more important to him than his job, and that his sons Dante and Mariano are getting to the age where they need their father around more. It sounded as though he didn’t think he’d be back after his contract expires, willingly or otherwise.

I want to apologize for not being quicker at posting your comments.  I want to have enough time to address each one appropriately.  I had planned to do it before this post went up, but it was a crazy day, being swept up in history in the morning, running back and forth to car dealerships in the afternoon trying to figure out whether to buy back my car off the lease or pay the mileage penalty (three grand – I’m an idiot) and give it back.  Just crazy.  I didn’t wind up getting a good enough deal to mention the dealership here on the blerg.  ;-)

The plan is to get to the comments at some point today.  Rational, reasonable ones are always welcome!

127 Responses to “State of the French Fries 2009”
  1. 1.

    Mike, good to hear from you again — less than a month to Spring Training, and I for one can hardly wait!

    Just wondering if anyone else noticed that today’s story about the re-signing of Bautista, Accardo and Frasor has Frasor’s stat line attributed to Accardo in the picture?

    First error of the season goes to the Fan!

    MW: I’ll pass that along.

    - Norm
  2. 2.

    Good summary Mike. I was there and was going to ask Beeston for his view on a balanced schedule. Given his time in NY I thought he could bring some “reality” to the issue and tell us if he thinks MLB would ever consider it. I held off asking when he said how great it is to be playing the Yankees and BoSox so much. Cito backed him up to.

    I really like your Wild Card tourney idea but alas that is too much change for MLB to consider.

    It was very interesting to hear JP tell the story of Tim Collins. Where will be be pitching this year ? I didn’t catch that.

    MW: He’ll probably start the year in Dunedin.

    - Ian C
  3. 3.

    It might have been a bad move to put the state of the team so close to the inauguration afterall. Compare the two speeches/statements. One of hope. The other of despair.

    MW: I didn’t hear despair in the speeches of any of Beeston, Gaston or Ricciardi.

    - bruce
  4. 4.

    JP’s body language says it all….I am suprised but it looks like a lame duck situation….he always seems to elude to things, and it seems he has thrown his hands up and let the process happen..worst offseason ever??

    MW: Slowest off-season ever, for sure.

    - craig
  5. 5.

    With the Leafs, Raptors, and Argos, either rebuilding, faltering, or both, I really hope the Jays can make a push to get the city behind them. 1983-1993 was something special.

    J.P. needs to do something to give them a chance. Although the Yankees have retooled they still don’t have the key ingredient to their success in the past decade — Joe Torre.

    MW: Actually, the key ingredient to the Yankees success was the fact that they had really, really good players.

    - Arthur
  6. 6.

    Mike, a few things I want to ask with respect to this meeting.

    1.) Is it a given to have Lind and Snider to split DH and LF duties if the season started today?
    2.) What is the Jays’ “price range” for a free agent?
    3.) What offensive upgrade do you think JP might be talking about? Which position and a starter or a bench player?
    4.) Any possibility the Jays might bring in Moises Alou as the offensive upgrade? The Jays have lacked the type of veteran presence and character that Alou can bring to help younger players. I think his bat would be a massive asset at DH as well.

    MW: 1 – Yes, with Lind mostly DHing. 2 – Probably less than a million dollars. 3 – Shortstop, I’d say. 4 – Alou is definitely a possibility, assuming he’s able to stay healthy. Also, he helps the Jays not be so “lefty-dominant”.

    - Joachim
  7. 7.

    Mr Beeston sure is taking his time finding his replacement. It sounds like he’s having fun running the Jays again. Do you think there’s a chance he removes the “interim” from his title and takes the job full time? He’s the best man for the job.

    MW: Nope.

    - Nick
  8. 8.

    The Jays are spinning the upcoming season the right way .. more like Leafs did than Raptors .. Better to under-promise and over-perform .. Good to see Lind and Snider will get lots of at bats
    Also team of Beaston , JP, and Cito has lots of credibility and good will with fans .. JP maybe less so but he imo is a solid baseball man ..
    Let’s hope we can keep our pitchers healthy ..
    We need Rios and Wells to have strong yrs .Maybe Rios emerges as star finally ?

    MW: Maybe. Although two all-star appearances in the past three years might indicate that he already has.

    - Chas Calz
  9. 9.

    Yeah, i’ll be in the same boat with my car too. (maybe i should buy a boat?) You’d think the car dealerships would be falling head over heels trying to make consumers happy given the poor state of the auto industry.

    MW: Only the North American auto industry.

    - karim kanji
  10. 10.

    I find myself confused somewhat by Beeston’s comments of increasing payroll once Toronto wins. I’m not following the logic; the team is in a rebuilding year and is going to go with a youth movement, resulting in likely a lower win total. Yet if the team competes, wins and more fans come then they’ll up the payroll?

    I sure hope there is more to the plan than that, if not I’m throwing my hat in the ring for team president, it doesn’t sound that hard.

    MW: I don’t really follow the logic either. However, Beeston believes in the young players and so he thinks that the Jays can be a winning team again this season, as do I (not a playoff team, but a winning team).

    - Clint
  11. 11.

    Mike, no real question but I would like to take a quick moment to back JP.

    I think his plan over the years has been very cost effective and understandable. I love the idea of taking low riskes on players trying to make a come back. These deals can turn out for the best. Unfortunatleyl the game of baseball comes down to the right decision at the right time and also a healthy dose of GOOD luck. JP has made the right decisions (for the most part) at the right time but has run into some horrible luck.
    The other reason why the fans want to beat him up (or is that just Bob Mcowan on a witch hunt!!) is that his plan simply takes time and patience and unfortunatley this is also the reason why I see JP’s time coming to an end in the next couple of years if not this year. People want results.

    I think JP has been a great GM. I think he made the right decisions at the right time and Hind Sight is 20/20.

    All the best Mike.

    - Greg
  12. 12.

    Sorry this might be mean spirited but Alan Ashby is ruining the game for me.
    He is so redundant! It’s kinda frustrating. I believe he is a good man off air (well he’s a good man on air as well) but his talent to repeat exactly what Jerry says with a couple of new words is uncanny!!!

    Sorry it’s just that I’ve had to turn the game off a couple of times because of his redundancy.

    MW: I couldn’t be happier with the job Alan Ashby has done. I think he’s an incredible asset in our broadcast booth.

    - Greg
  13. 13.

    At least I will have the french fries to look forward to when I go to the games this year.

    MW: They even have garlic fries!

    - Joe N.
  14. 14.

    michael,
    i always look forward to this annual, “state of the union type address” for the team’s fans and the thoughts conveyed by the higher ups of the organization on the plan(s) going for the upcoming season and beyond.
    i really liked what i heard from all of them yesterday.
    mainly because when you look at all the circumstances that are in play for this team & this upcoming season.. (key injuries to at least 4 pitchers & the starting 2b, losing burnett, a spiraling economy, obscene spending by teams in the al & in their division specifically, emergence of the rays, a forthcoming & significant organizational shift in it’s upper management structure and perhaps leastly a need at this time to evaluate some key young position players & pitchers)it is probably the best possible time for them to “keep their powder dry” for 1 season as these things play themselves out in 09.
    i’m sure i was equally disappointed like other fans of the team were when opportunities like a very reasonable giambi contract to take on were possible but i look at the GM & organizations rational & response on how they proceeded in regards to that and i personally have no problem with their way of thinking on it.
    and it’s quite understandable that it’s hard to swallow the notion of responsible patience at this time based on the amount of time the fans of this team have been waiting for another playoff appearance (or more) but these are extraordinary times & circumstances for this team right now. i don’t think they’re is any arguing that fact at this point in time. it is what it is unfortunately.
    and who knows for sure what next season will bring for this team anyway. there’s great surprises in all sports on an annual basis, so why should this upcoming yr. be any different?
    i’m still looking forward to the upcoming season for 1 that much i know.
    darrell.

    - darrell bishop
  15. 15.

    Mike,
    J.P. needs to bring in at least one more starting pitcher to compete for that last spot in the rotation. A minor league contract offer to a vetran with plenty of experience would benefit this young, inexperienced rotation (Garcia or Mulder?)
    Any suggestions?

    MW: Clement and Maroth will give the Jays as much as Mulder would, and he may yet come here. Garcia won’t, which is too bad, I’d have liked to see that. I’m fine with Clement, Maroth, Richmond and Bryan Bullington competing for the 5th spot. Pedro would sure be nice, though.

    - Jeff G.
  16. 16.

    I feel that Paul Beeston and Cito Gaston know what their doing and know how to get the best out of their players and the organization. They help me to feel confident in the Jays. I can hardly wait to see how the team developes. I’m excited for next year!

    MW: See? It worked!

    - Justin Hughes
  17. 17.

    Hey Mike,

    Like most people, I have a lot of respect for what Cito says. (Cito didn’t attend the same spew-cliches-and-try-to-spin-the-media clinic that governs how Ricciardi conducts himself).

    If Cito says Overbay is being counted on for 20-25 homers and Rolen for 25-30, well, there’s a lot of work for those guys to do.
    But I think having his players play hard for him and getting the most out of his hitters is Cito’s trademark as a manager.

    If Cito is placing those expectations on them, then there should be no excuses — they either produce by June or they’re not in the plans.

    Because any contending team in 2010 can’t have two aging plugs playing the corners and batting 7-8 in the lineup.

    MW: So Overbay and Rolen have to be on pace to combine for 50 homers by June or they’re gone? Man, you’re tough.

    - Ken Pagan
  18. 18.

    Cito said he expected 20-25 HR from Overbay, 25-30 from Rolen, more from Rios. What about Wells? Do you think these are reasonable expectations? How many would you predict for Lind? Snider? Barajas?

    I would love to see some power this year.

    With a rotation of Doc, Litsch, Purcey, Janssen, McGowan/Clement/Richmond, and a power surge like Cito expects, how many wins can we hope for, in your opinion?

    MW: I think the Jays will win between 80-85 games. I think Cito’s expectations for Overbay and Rolen are high, I’d like to see them combine to hit 35 homers. Lind, Snider and Barajas together I think could hit 55 or so.

    - andrew - KW
  19. 19.

    Hey Mike,

    With the lack of moves, and uncertainty of all the starting pitching candidates, it appears that Scott Downs is the most logical move to add stability to the rotation, do you see this happening?

    Also, there some intriguing middle infielders available in Cabrera and Hudson. Is there a price that is low enough for the organization to sign one of these guys? (and give up a draft pick).

    MW: Scott Downs isn’t going into the rotation, and the Jays won’t give up a draft pick to sign either Cabrera or Hudson.

    - Stevie H.
  20. 20.

    As much as I am looking forward to 2010, I think the Blue Jays will be competitive this year. If the hitting picks up, I believe that we will be fine as Brad Arnsberg and Bruce Walton have proved to be two of the best pitching coaches in the league and are capable of working wonders with any pitching staff. I was very happy to hear that Doc is in the long-term plans and they are going to make every effort to resign him. My question is what notable free agents will there be next year? Who can we MAYBE see in a Blue Jays uniform?

    MW: Potential free agents for next year include Carlos Delgado, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche, Brian Roberts, Khalil Greene, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Josh Bard, Victor Martinez, Jason Bay, Carl Crawford, Vladimir Guerrero, Matt Holliday and Magglio Ordonez. From the pitching side, there are Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, John Lackey, Kevin Gregg, Ryan Madson, Hideki Okajima, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde.

    - Logan
  21. 21.

    Oh, one more thing.A while ago on your show you mentioned Alex Anthropoulis as the possible successor for JP. You said in your blog today that you don’t think JP will stick around after his contract expires. Is Mr. Anthropoulis still your pick to replace Mr. Ricciardi or do you see someone else coming in?

    MW: It’s Anthopoulos. I don’t know if he’ll get the job, but I’d love to see him and Tony LaCava take over together after J.P.’s time is up.

    - Logan
  22. 22.

    Mike,

    One thing is for certain: there is no shortage of drama in the Blue Jays’ organization.

    I can’t help but being surprised at Ricciardi’s comments about wanting to spend more time with his family. You almost get the feeling he is unhappy with the direction the team is going in….

    Of course, for all of Paul Beeston’s insistence that he was the “interim” team President, guess who’s going to be running the show in 2009?

    One thing I would not like to see is “more of John McDonald” in the 2009 season. This is where I differ from most of the mainstream media and the blogosphere. In my opinion, McDonald is a bench player. He is not good enough offensively to warrant being in the starting lineup on a regular basis. I have no problem with using Marco Scutaro, although I still consider him subpar as a starting shortstop.

    Speaking of which, is there any deadline at which a Type A free agent status expires? Let’s say Orlando Cabrera complains to the MLBPA that he can’t sign with a MLB team because of his free agent status. Can he have that status removed?

    MW: I don’t believe that Cabrera can have that status removed. Maybe if he sits out a year or signs after the draft, I don’t know. As far as McDonald, when the other option is Scutaro, it’s not hard to see why more people want McDonald in the line-up. And Ricciardi’s comments about time with his family are nothing new, he’s been saying that for years.

    - Nathan
  23. 23.

    Mike…My mom is a big fan of TheFan590 baseball crew and she was wondering when she was at my place last week who I was typing to. When I mentioned it was that “guy who makes your day when he comes on after the game and says the Yanks and Red Sox lost” (she’s not great at names, Mike) she said to make sure and say a big HELLO. She always loved Tom and Jerry (and now Alan and Jerry)and sitting in the backyard with a cup of tea listening to you gentlemen on a sunny afternoon, is her paradise,even over watching on T.V….so Mom says HI and says she wishes it was Opening Day and 25 Celsius right now, she can’t wait to hear you guys broadcasting and you make her day…Thanks (from Mom)
    P.S. I made sure I told her you do way more than just give post-game scores, Mike

    MW: I hardly even give post-game scores anymore.

    - chris m.
  24. 24.

    I think it makes perfect sense to basically hold the fort for 2009 with an eye towards 2010 given the economy, the injuries, and the maturation process of players such as cecil, lind, and Snider. Im glad the jays have avoided retread mediocre, overpriced pitchers such as garland. what do u think about cecil’s chances of making the club? likely or unlikely?

    MW: Out of Spring Training? Unlikely. At some point in 2009? Almost definitely.

    - generalzod
  25. 25.

    Two thirds of the Toronto lineup rips from the right side, and the Jays won’t sign Giambi because it will make them too lefty dominant. Another gem from JP.

    The Yanks add Teixeira, Sabathia, Swisher and Burnett.

    The BoSox add Tazawa, Smoltz, Saito and Baldelli.

    The Rays add Burrell and will get a full season out of phenom Price.

    The O’s add Felix Pie, Freel and Koji Uehera.

    The Jays add Clement, Barrett and Maroth.

    Every team in the East will be improved in 2009 with the exception of Toronto. Extremely Frustrating.

    The message from upper management seems clear. 2009 is a write-off. Cut costs, ride out the remaining year on JP’s contract and fire him after the Jays finish 4th or 5th. Do you agree with this assessment Mike ?

    MW: There’s still another remaining year on J.P.’s contract after 2009. I don’t think it’s especially fair to pull the rug out from under your G.M. in mid-stream and then fire him when things don’t go well. As for your chart above, it’s interesting to note that you didn’t put any subtractions in there.

    - RICK
  26. 26.

    What did you think of Kieth Law’s latest lambasting of the Jays’ farm system under JP? Care to add any perspective?

    MW: I haven’t read it yet, but you’re certainly not getting an unbiased perspective on the Jays front office from Keith – though he does make that known.

    - Chris
  27. 27.

    mike, this is why everyone is sick of JP. he makes these stupid comments that have no basis in fact and thinks that everyone is stupid enough to believe it. last year he said giambi coudn’t hit anymore, same for sammy sosa. then adam dunn has no passion. now it’s giambi will make us too lefty heavy. gimme a break. why does no one challenge him on these stupid comments? it reminds me of bush. a guy like giambi was sorely needed on this team. they cant afford 5mil but will be spending 20 mil on vw next year. makes a lot of sense. the real reason is the jays dont want to spend money, why not just say so?

    MW: That’s the real reason. J.P. has decided that the Jays don’t want to spend money.

    - rocco
  28. 28.

    25 homers from Rolen and 20 from overbay realistic or is Cito just going through the motions?

    MW: Why is that the either/or?

    - simon
  29. 29.

    Pedro Martinez might look nice in that no.5 slot.

    MW: Indeed.

    - Jabes
  30. 30.

    I was there. It was an exercise in double-speak. On the one hand we have to win in order to increase payroll. On the other hand we have to take a step back because it doesn’t make sense to spend too much this year. The latter is true and I think everyone there understood that. So just say ‘it’s a rebuilding year’ and leave it at that. But bafflegab prevailed. I did not appreciate Ricciardi’s comment about our ’3 winning seasons’ because I have a different definition of what ‘winning’ means. I think it would have been more appropriate to have said ’3 above .500 seasons’.

    They introduced Gaston and Beeston to say a few words. I was wondering how they would approach a possible PR problem with Ricciardi. They did it well and seamlessly. Although I think there was no chance at all of him being booed, and I do believe people would have applauded politely, there would have been a distinct lack of enthusiasm compared to the ovation the other two got. Conversation beforehand while eating the aforesaid nasty fries suggested that no one was happy with him, although he didn’t get any questions that were particularly challenging.

    On the subject of Ricciardi, I expect that he will leave at the end of the season and I imagine he knows that as well. Which is why we are now hearing ‘my kids need a daddy’ comments. His kids needed a daddy over the past 7 years. And it would have been easy to provide one: move the family to Toronto. However he didn’t. And now he’s certain he’s on his way out he is piously referencing parenthood. It is exactly this kind of stuff that makes me dislike him so much.

    The audience was hardcore season-ticket holders. Almost everyone I spoke to had considered ditching their tix this year, and in most cases it wasn’t the lack of playoff action that was bothering them–although it was bothering them–so much as a general concern about the way the team was being directed. I note that this winter season the Jays have avoided the band-aid solutions that they have gone for in the past, and I’m glad about that. I do understand the importance of getting both Snider and Lind into the line-up. I don’t think pouring $$$$$$$ after Mannie would help this year. But that having been said, if they don’t do much this season and they don’t do something next winter to take the team up, the 2010 season might be the worst attended season in history if the fans there last night are any kind of representative sample. They were polite but they aren’t happy and quite a few of them have one foot out the door.

    MW: There’s not a chance that the 2010 season might be the worst attended in team history. Your cherry-picking the “my kids need a daddy” quote is exactly the reason that I have to rise to the defense of J.P. and the Blue Jays so much. To say that he should move his family to Toronto or that his kids have needed a father for seven years is irresponsible. First, get down off the high horse. Second, if you’ve actually listened to what the man has been saying for the last few years, at least on Wednesday nights, WHENEVER he has been asked about his feelings with regards to staying on beyond 2010, his answer has been the same: “Being a father is more important to me than being a G.M., it’ll be a family decision, I don’t know if I can stay away from my family that much anymore.” He said that in 2005 and he said it in 2009. The team’s present circumstances have nothing to do with it. But, of course, the truth wouldn’t fit your argument, would it?

    - isabella reyes
  31. 31.

    Unlike most of the fans who will post here things like “JP should be fired”, “here comes another wasted season”, or some other doom-and-gloom stuff, I would like to say something different. (And I wonder why some of the people who post here even watch the Jays cause they seem to hate them so much)

    I am excited about 2009. That’s right – excited. I look forward to seeing a full season out of Lind and Snider. Wells was on “The Show” this week and told Dibbs that he hired a personal trainer and is in “the best shape of his life”, and that after playing in the WBC he hopes to get off to a good start. I hope Janssen is healthy cause I really like him and I look forward to seeing pitch again. Same with Accardo. We saw at times how Purcey has the stuff to dominate, and maybe he can find a groove this year when given enough innings. I also can’t wait to see Richmond and Cecil et al. Not to mention another year enjoying Roy Halladay’s mastery of the art of pitching……its going to be great.

    I think the Jays did the right thing by cutting the payroll, and, frankly, I agree with their rationale in not signing any free agents. 2009 is not going to be a wasted year, it is going to be a GREAT year watching our young kids develop and get some big league time under an experienced and proven staff, and if teams like the Marlins, Rockies, and Rays have taught us anything, it is that you can be competitive with a modest payroll – plus we should all remind ourselves that having a $200million dollar payroll guarantees nothing.

    For the record, I think the Yankees WAY overpaid for Burnett and they are going to wish they never game him the contract they did. I wish AJ no malice, but the Yankees are not going to get that money back from him.

    Only three weeks until spring training!!!

    MW: It’s interesting, when other teams give time to the kids, the fans get excited. Not here, though.

    - Darren
  32. 32.

    Hey Mike

    I was just wondering what you thought of these Free Agents and if you think the Jays should take a run at them.
    Hank Blalock
    Garret Anderson
    Jonny Gomes
    Ben Sheets
    Randy Wolf
    Jason Isringhausen
    and I would love to see them take a flier on Bartolo Colon

    MW: Colon isn’t available. I’d like to see them take a run at Sheets, but they won’t, and they could have signed Gomes for less than half of what it took to re-sign Jose Bautista, which is kind of sad.

    - Justin Jays
  33. 33.

    Just wondering if anyone at the event was able to successfully blame the world financial crisis on JP or, more specifically, his drafting of Russ Adams ahead of Scott Kazmir? (Although I fear that if it was possible, Stephen Harper or Jim Flaherty might have already done so.)

    - pete
  34. 34.

    just to follow up…what are the odds of JP stepping down next fall, and Alex Anthopolous being named new gm….

    MW: Extremely low, I can’t see J.P. stepping down before his contract is up.

    - craig
  35. 35.

    Nothing at all about our very expensive (although good) closer?
    With our deep bullpen wouldn’t a trade be appropriate here?

    MW: It depends on the return, but I would think so.

    - paul
  36. 36.

    it’s funny how JP is already setting up an easy way out for himself. he knows his job is on the line so he says “I’m a dad first” and “my boys are crying” give me a break. were they not crying for the past 5 years? it wasn’t an issue then, but now suddenly it’s an issue. and once your a teenager your kids really dont want to hang around the parents much so that’s a pretty lame excuse. I fully expect JP to resign at the end of the season before getting fired. I dont think his ego would allow him to get fired.

    MW: See above.

    - rocco
  37. 37.

    Tired of the snow and the cold and it doesn’t get any better when looking at the record of the Leafs and the Raps!

    Two things come to mind when thinking of the Jays and the other two pro teams in Toronto (not including soccer).

    1. The Jays season is at least during the warm weather.

    2. The Jays for the last 3 years have had winning seasons!

    Funny isn’t it, how the Jays and J.P. seem to get bashed a lot more by fans than either the Leafs or the Raps as to play and G.M’s. Yet they (Jays) continue to have winning seasons of late.

    Sure, the Jays haven’t been playing after the regular season ends but they have been providing great entertainment and winning records to boot. It’s a heck of a lot easier for NHL and NBA teams to make the post season – this year it looks like neither of those Toronto teams will be there.

    So how’s the off season going Mike? It must be great relief not to have to read a lot of negative comments every day on your blog. I would imagine some of the comments during the season must drive you nutty at times.

    Keep in mind Jays fans, the fact that your Jays, despite no post season play have been successful as to winning more than they lose.

    The 09 Jays are going into a season where expectations are low. This is very likely the year when the hitting and pitching come together for a change.

    The Jays are a lot closer to a championship season than are the other two afore mentioned pro teams from Toronto!

    Thank You.

    - Bob from Burlington
  38. 38.

    Hey Mike, chicken or egg?

    Save $ on payroll, get winning on the field, attract more than the die-hard fans, make more money and raise payroll. Repeat.

    -or-

    Raise payroll, get better players, get winning on the field, attract more fans, make more money. Repeat.

    Lesson? You can’t win appreciably more at this payroll level.
    You can’t raise payroll to the significant level needed in order to compete, with these revenues.
    You can’t generate massive increases in revenue required without winning.

    Chicken or Egg?

    MW: If I knew that, I’d be in line for Beeston’s job.

    - Gary
  39. 39.

    Hey Mike,

    Interesting article from Richard Griffin:

    http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/575878

    I’m a big fan of Jack Cust, and I remember posting back in May on your blog about how he was a great pickup by Billy Beane. Which players do you think the Blue Jays would have to trade for Jack Cust?

    MW: I don’t know, it depends on how motivated the A’s are to move him. The signing of Jason Giambi didn’t make Cust expendable, because he spends most of his time in the outfield, so it depends how committed the A’s are to guys like Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis and Chris Denorfia. If they’re willing to let Cust go for the same price the Jays paid for Marco Scutaro or the late, great Cory Lidle, then I’m all for it. I love Cust, but of course, his acquisition would cut into the playing time of Adam Lind, according to what J.P. Ricciardi said when asked about Jason Giambi at the State of the French Fries last week.

    - Silvio
  40. 40.

    MW: WHENEVER he has been asked about his feelings with regards to staying on beyond 2010, his answer has been the same: “Being a father is more important to me than being a G.M., it’ll be a family decision, I don’t know if I can stay away from my family that much anymore.” He said that in 2005 and he said it in 2009.

    Really? And yet he’s still here.

    I didn’t bring his family up. He did. If he says stuff like that, he can expect me to question his integrity on the subject. If I am offered a job–and I once was–a long way away from my husband and kid, I have some alternatives. Do I take it and visit home as often as I can? Do I try and persuade my family to move with me? Do I turn the offer down gracefully? I turned it down. But If I had taken it, I can guarantee you I would have kept my family feelings to myself. They have no place in business. Once I make that decision, I have to live with it. Ricciardi made that decision. He has to live with it. I don’t care one way or the other. His family means nothing to me. But I don’t like him wrapping himself in fatherhood and apple pie when it’s clear to everyone including you that if we don’t do extraordinarily well this season he is gonzo. And are we being prepared to see the team to do extraordinarily well? I don’t think that’s what Beeston and Gaston were telling us to expect.

    MW: He brought up his family when he was asked if he would be interested in staying in the job beyond 2010. He wasn’t complaining about his lot in life or saying he’s contemplating leaving before his contract is up to spend more time with his family. There’s no issue here, except for those who look to find a problem with everything Ricciardi says or does.

    - isabella reyes
  41. 41.

    Hi Mike, I hate this temporary BEASTman I keep reading in the papers. Lame Ducks are like george W. Maby this powerful Beeston can give you the job? Then lets start rebuilding with SPEED, because anyone other then Mark McGuire last year (as far as home run hitters) wouldn’t have helped us win enough games last year. Since it would not be allowed to recreate Mark McGuire,(the test tube factory) don’t you think the key to winning next year in the “MEAN EAST” Division, is speed. Making the pitchers and defense screw up? BTW, I heard Mark McGuire hit the most home runs per time at bat than anybody else, 10.6 times at bat and that Babe Ruth was third. Who was second? If you tell me it was Barry Bonds, then I would have to admit of being an imbecile last year when I thought you was an imbecile for wanting to get Bobby Bonds kid in a Blue Jay uniform.
    Larry Murr

    MW: Barry Bonds is one of the greatest hitters ever, and would have been a great fit for the Jays last year (still would, actually, but let’s not go there). Bonds is third on the all-time list of at-bats per home run, with 12.9, behind McGwire (10.6) and Ruth (11.8). The next two on the list, by the way, are Jim Thome and Adam Dunn. I don’t agree with you about the speed thing.

    - Larry Murr
  42. 42.

    I understand his view towards his family but he knew he would be away from his family for long stretches of time when he signed a contract here…

    This job wasn’t forced on him, he choose to come here..He even signed an extension..You have to admit, it is a good out if he needs one..Nobody would question it..See above as to what may happen if they did..

    He signed Thomas and about 1001 shortstops and put some lofty expectations on this team last season and they laid an egg..Is it his fault?…Yes some of it..

    He has been here for 7 seasons and this team isn’t any closer to the playoffs then they were when he arrived..There are some good young players in Toronto but you can say that about many other teams as well..

    Even the dumbest GM in history (Gord Ash) drafted some good players with 50 picks a year..

    Don’t you think its time he is held accountable for not being able to get this team over the hump?

    Should fans be happy with a few winning seasons in a row?
    Should we pay 10 bucks a beer to watch a team that will win just over half their games?..We have been doing that for 16 years..

    I don’t hate Riccardi but I think this organization is due for a change..Too many people give this guy too much credit..

    If J.P said your show blew chunks and wouldn’t be caught dead on the air with you, would you still defend him?..

    I love your post game show..I listen to it every chance I get..I think you are the most knowledgeable baseball broadcaster on the radio..

    I admire the fact that Riccardi makes himself available to the fans..But I wonder sometimes, do you have that in the back of your mind, when you assess the job he has done? Just wondering..

    MW: Nope. If he said my show blew chunks and he wouldn’t be caught dead on the air with me, then my feelings would be hirt, but I’d get over it, and just put Paul Godfrey or, now, Paul Beeston on the air instead. But the way a person treats me doesn’t colour my viewpoint of the job he’s doing (if you don’t believe me, look back at what I’ve written about A.J. Burnett in the past) – what’s true is true, period. I don’t understand how the players who perform below expectations don’t shoulder most of the blame for performing below expectations, so long as those expectations weren’t set too high – which they weren’t. As far as the family thing, see above.

    - gump
  43. 43.

    This makes sense to me, with the dollar lower than it was last year they aren’t getting the mileage out of their money. Save it now and spend on a deeper and younger FA class next year. Also makes sense to see where the young guys are at so you know where the holes are.

    Just a couple quick questions Mike. Do you think next year the new or current management team gets the money that was saved this year in addition to the usual amount to make a huge splash and fill any holes we have with big name guys?

    Also given that the last few times Wells has gotten hurt it’s been in the field (I could be wrong), and given that Rios has shown he’s more than capable of playing in Center field, do you think it would be a good idea to DH wells once a week and save some ware and tear? Or would Rios in CF and Lind and Snider at the corners be too big of a drop off in defense?

    Lastly count me in the excited column, I love seeing the young guys play. With them it’s all about passion, love of the game, striving to prove yourself and to live your dream. The young guys embody what the game is all about.

    MW: I don’t think the money saved this year gets kicked into payroll next year, and as for Wells, he was hurt twice last season – once in the field and once running the bases. Breaking your wrist diving for a ball is a freak injury, so I don’t think that warrants him being pulled off the field. Eventually, though, he probably moves to left to allow Rios to play centre. But not for a while yet.

    - Nick
  44. 44.

    Hey Mike,
    I’d like to see the Jays pick up Riohie Sexson if he has anything left in the tank. Could this be a guy they could pick-up for less than a million dollars or so or has he saigned somewhere else already? Perfect compliment to Overbay I think wouldn’t you say?

    MW: Sexson would be a fine low-risk, potential-reward signing.

    - Jeff G.
  45. 45.

    hey mike, you know how the teenagers wear their baseball hats with the flat rim and they think that’s cool. well remember when jimy williams would never curv his hat and always wore it flat and how nerdy that was? who would have ever thought that jimy williams was the first hip hop trend setter? what’s the next cool trend? pot bellies?

    - chubby
  46. 46.

    we haven’t heard any news about manny lately. where do you think he will sign?

    MW: L.A. or San Francisco.

    - chubby
  47. 47.

    Mike — I am no Cito fan, I will make that clear. When I hear him put expectations about home runs on hitters it really bothers me. You see, I don’t think Cito understands the modern day importance of OBP and SLG. If Lyle Overbay posts a .400 OBP and slugs .485, that would be amazing. But because he hits 50 doubles, he only dings 15 home runs. That would be a phenomenal season — but I really wonder if Cito sees it that way. Cito is a manager who had Joe Carter hitting third and Devon White leading off. His best hitters (Alomar and Olerud) were hitting 2nd and 6th. He also wanted Olerud to hit more homeruns (despite the fact that Olerud was never getting out!).
    Everyone talks about the winning years, but did everyone forget Cito losing over 80 games in his final 3 years?

    MW: Probably.

    - Jim B
  48. 48.

    Mike…Be mindful of making predictions for the upcoming baseball season..With your love of The Beatles, the people who like to stick it to you might serenade you with ” Things We Said Today.”..Mike..Wouldn’t it be nice(no Beach Boys pun intended) that when you are correct, that people would remember the Five Man Electrical Band’s ” You Were Absolutely Right”..Unfortunately a wise man once said that it’s easier to criticize than compliment..So true( I think Spandau Ballet said those 2 words as well)..Thanks for allowing levity Mike, it makes for good variety.

    - chris m.
  49. 49.

    Good work Mike; keep it rolling.
    I can see Toronto spending $3.5M -$4.25M if they can pick up a $8.0M – $10.0M agent; but much, much less for anything else.
    You said the main upgrade might be at Shortstop. Who is that good that is available?

    MW: No one on whom they’re willing to spend a first-round pick. Maybe they could still deal for J.J. Hardy, though.

    - Richard Spackman
  50. 50.

    MW: Potential free agents for next year include Carlos Delgado, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche, Brian Roberts, Khalil Greene, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Josh Bard, Victor Martinez, Jason Bay, Carl Crawford, Vladimir Guerrero, Matt Holliday and Magglio Ordonez. From the pitching side, there are Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, John Lackey, Kevin Gregg, Ryan Madson, Hideki Okajima, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde

    I would love Toronto to take a run at John Lackey or Justin Duchscherer but if they are beyond price range, then Erik Bedard or Rich Harden are good too (however both are injury prone). Which pitchers do you see the Jays going after?

    It could also be possible that the Jays dont go after anyone and secure just Roy Halladays contract, since we should have McGowan, Marcum back at full strength and then possibly Cecil combined with Litsch and Halladay sounds like a good rotation to me. However the addition of Lackey or another major ace would be amazing. Perhaps with all the money they are saving this year, they could afford it.

    From the batters, I would like to see Toronto go after Chone Figgins, he has the speed and OBP for a lead off hitter and he would be a good fit for us. Miguel Tejada isn’t a bad option either.

    Could you give us an update on how Kevin Ahrens is doing, it seems like he was another first round mistake for us.

    Also when do you see David Cooper getting playing time in the big leagues? Do you think he would be ready before Overbays contract is up?, if that is so then we could trade overbay for a minimum and then bring Cooper up, he seems like another Snider to me.

    Very excited to see Snider and Lind getting Full time action. If Wells can play like he did in 2006, during the last WBC, and Rios continues to tear, then our offense would be very good.

    Although expecting 55 homers from Overbay/Rolen combined is a bit too much i can see overbay hitting 15 and rolen hitting 20 though, if they both stay healthy.

    Once again the season is marked around alot of ifs, but we can still pull of a record over .500.

    MW: I think you’re a little high on Cooper and a lot low on Ahrens. Writing a guy off as a bust when he’s still a teenager? Man, you need to take a serious step back. If McGowan and Janssen show they’re healthy and Cecil doesn’t fall on his face, I don’t think the Jays will need to spend on a starting pitcher other than Halladay next winter, but I agree with you on Figgins, he’d be a great fit here.

    - Harry
  51. 51.

    mikey, bart given was just fired. do you know why he was fired? also why was tim mcleary fired? was keith law fired too or did he just leave? don’t you think it’s a bit strange why so many execs are leaving?

    MW: I don’t think three execs leaving in five years is any sort of pattern of anything. Law and the Jays came to a mutual parting of the ways because Law no longer had the ear of the higher-ups and found a very good opportunity elsewhere, McCleary was fired – rumour has it – because of a personality conflict with someone who had the ear of someone VERY high up (I’m in McCleary’s corner on that one, if it’s true). The people I have talked to say that Given was laid off, which means that the Jays thought they could cover off his responsibilities with the people they already have in-house and could save money.

    - chubby
  52. 52.

    MW: It’s interesting, when other teams give time to the kids, the fans get excited. Not here, though.

    Well when the Rays put young guys on the field can can actually you know…..play a little bit. The Jays young players are just fluff….filling positions on the roster.

    Wonder if anybody asked JP to compare the Jays’ rebuilding plan with the Rays, considering how it was impossible to compete in the AL East because of the Yankees and Red Sox huge payrolls and all.

    From Baseball Projections.com

    “Look out Jay Bruce, you are no longer the best hitting outfielder on the Reds. Jonny is (projected .864 OPS). He’s signed to a minor league contract for only $600,000.

    The negatives on Jonny are that he only hit .182 last year, strikes out a ton, and plays brutal defense. Still, the guy has serious power. He’s got 1264 big league at bats, and 66 homers to go with a .455 slugging percentage and 105 OPS+. His minor league track record says the same thing, the dude has power.

    In his favor, he’s moving from baseball’s toughest division to the National League central, a very good homerun hitting park, and some other good hitter’s parks among his divisional opponents (Wrigley, Houston). I think Jonny is going to win a starting job in spring training (Reds OF then being him, Tavares in center, and Bruce in right), and hit a bunch of homers. If he plays every day I think he’ll hit 30. He’ll also strike out 150+ times, and play crappy defense. They’ve pretty much replaced 90% of Adam Dunn for a little over the league minimum. Jonny is a good player to watch for if you wonder if there will be a Ryan Ludwick of 2009.”

    Of course JP would rather throw 18 million at a name player like Frank Thomas than make an intelligent signing like this.

    MW: Yes, the choice two winters ago was between Frank Thomas, a Hall of Famer coming off a fantastic season and Jonny Gomes. Who in their right mind wouldn’t have signed Gomes, especially with the crystal ball to see that he would have hit .182/.282/.383 in 2008. Oh, wait…… Also, who are the fluff position-filler young players the Jays are going to take a long look at this year? Adam Lind? Travis Snider? Brett Cecil? David Purcey? J.P. Arencibia? Man, if only some of those guys could actually play a little bit.

    - Ken
  53. 53.

    Hi Mike it’s been a while. Hope your having a nice offseason.
    I’m actually looking forward to see the kids play. You never know, they may actually exceed expectations (the kids and the team).
    Just an observation:
    In 2010 there’s a possibility the Jays entire lineup, as well as the core of their pitching staff, will be homegrown talent. Here’s the potential lineup:
    C J.P. Arencibia
    1B D. Cooper
    2B B. Emaus
    3B S. Campbell
    SS A. Hill
    DH A. Lind
    RF A. Rios
    CF V. Wells
    LF T. Snider

    SP: Halladay, Mcgowen, Marcum,
    Cecil, Litsch (Mills,Romero,Purcey)
    BP: League, Carlson, D.Romero, Jannsen (Wolfe, Frasor, Accardo – Basically started their carreers here as well.)
    Nice to see!

    MW: That’s not the potential line-up for 2010. The Jays will be thrilled if ONE of Arencibia, Cooper, Emaus and Campbell are starting for them then, and Arencibia is the only one with a shot. I appreciate your optimism, though.

    - Steve from NJ
  54. 54.

    Hey Mike

    i truely believe that JP Riccardi is watching another team other than the Blue Jays. To say they have enough lefty presence in there hitting lineup is absurd. All you have is overbay, Zaun and Lind to end the season. Now they will add Snider, but he does not strike fear into to many teams in the AL east just yet. The other three guys i mentioned are average at best and will not even lead a minor league team to the promise land.

    JP continues to go on the cheap and guys like you applaued JP for his efforts by keeping him in a cushy role.

    The rest of the division is light years ahead of JP and the chuckleheads that run the front office.

    Keep being foolish Mike and buy into the diaster that is the Toronto Blue jays

    MW: I like that you think that I have kept J.P. in a cushy role.

    - Mark
  55. 55.

    JP doesn’t need anybody to stand up for him. His record speaks for itself. Just for interest there are 14 GM’s in the majors who were in the majors when JP was hired by the Blue Jays. In that meantime everyone of them, except of course JP, have made the playoffs at least once.

    In other words every GM who was in the league when JP has arrived has either made the playoffs or been fired. Except of course JP who was the moneyball “wonderboy” chosen by that well known baseball icon Paul Godfrey to lead the Blue Jays to the promised land.

    Godfrey & JP…..Beeston & Gillick….umm….Godfrey & JP…Beeston & Gillick. Tough decision. Great management teams both of them.

    Really shows you just how far this franchise has fallen. Anybody know if this Gillick guy has had any success since he left Toronto after Gord Ash (another Toronto baseball genius) apparently had no use for his ideas or input.

    - Ken
  56. 56.

    But enough about our personal and constant argument. What the hell happened with Given?

    MW: See above.

    - isabella reyes
  57. 57.

    mike, defending JP regarding his kids is ridiculous. first off, he gets to spend 6 months with them anyways in the offseason. second, was he complaining about this in oakland? the fact is, in any job in baseball you are going to be away from your family unless you move your family, which he did not. every blue jays player is away from his family are they not? regular people in the real world dont have a choice. they have to take any job they can get. JP makes enough money that he has a choice. he shouldn’t be whining when people are losing their jobs

    MW: Sigh.

    - jacob
  58. 58.

    2-Year Contracts: Spend Now; Save Later?

    Having as many guys going into contract years in 2010 could create a lot of ‘financial incentive’ for performance.

    If I were in the Jays front office I would be pushing to grab one of the last remaining prizes out there for a 2 year deal – to me, that’s Manny or Sheets (although Manny’s price might still be a shade too high to be considered a deal, and Sheets has injury questions, although I’ve never thought him to be particularly prone)

    So, Mike, you’re the GM for a day and you get to make one big splash this off season – who do you pick up?

    Or do you stand pat, and hope that next year you can get an even better bargain?

    I don’t know if you get down with this kind of hypothetical razzamatazz or not; but news is SUH-LOW – this is my airtight excuse for forcing you to play my ridiculous homer-game. (and play you MUST!)

    MW: I would love to sign both Sheets and Manny to two-year deals, but I don’t have the budget.

    - Andrew
  59. 59.

    Mike,

    did the injury to Marcum to some degree pull the Jays back for 09, knowing that they couldn’t replace 2 starters, which is why Beeston came out with the if it’s not 120 than it might as well be 80 payroll comment.

    Can we expect to see anything new at Rogers Centre this year inside or Outside?

    MW: Yes.

    - Anthony Ciardulli
  60. 60.

    to somewhat augment a more balanced scheduled, do you atleast think that interleague play should be based on team records from the previous year. That gives weaker teams a bit of an easier scheduled and helps them compete. It would be king of like what the NFL doesn.

    MW: I would like to see interleague play scrapped if they can’t figure out a way to do it fairly. And fairly probably means two games against every team in the other league.

    - Anthony
  61. 61.

    hi mike;
    just heard that given was fired, this is a little perplexing given the timing, but hopefully all is well in front office land. Just wondering if bj ryan is still being shopped or to dump salary or sign some pitching, thx great blog.

    MW: From what we’ve been told, Ryan never has been shopped.

    - robert.s
  62. 62.

    Hello Mike, It has been along tough Canadian winter! Hope you are keeping well?
    Mike I was some what suprised at your responses from the Jay’s state of the team function on your blog.
    To my knowledge this is the first time I have heard you say that J.P. will be done at the end of this year.
    You and I have disagreed on this subject for sometime.
    Personally I feel he should have been fired two years ago! This season of very little,to no activity has been very frustrating!
    With the unfortunate passing of Ted Rogers I believe that this has alot to do with why the team is not adding any payroll. I honestly feel that the Rogers family is putting feelers out to possibly sell the team. The team would be much easier to sell with an 80million payroll as it would if the payroll was 100 million and up.
    This may not be the case,but “MY SPIDER SENSE IS TINGLING”.
    There are a number of things that have happened that hve confused me!
    This is why I fell the team is for sale and J.P.’s hands have been tied.
    I think he would have liked to add a free-agent pitcher like Carl Pavano.
    I think he would have liked to add Pat Burrell as the D.H.
    Finally in a nut shell plain and simple J.P. has been told not to add any salary.
    People keep saying that in one or two years that this team will be great to watch!
    On your show you have boasted about how the team has 8 players on the verge of being eveyday contributors to this team.
    What about the number of people that may leave the organization in that time period.(A.J. left and it has left a huge hole in the rotation)
    Who is to say that Marcum,Macgowan,Litsch,Janssen, etc. all don’t recover from injury or leave when they become eligible for free agency? With the way the economy is at this time and the team not willing to spend money are they going to be able to keep all these players?
    Finally, When your manager comes out and says it is going to be very difficult for this team to win this year before the season even starts pretty much sums up what we as fans can expect!
    This team will have to play way above there potential to even have a chance to win the 80-85 games you mentioned.
    Pitching will win you games, good pitching!
    The Jay’s have a great bullpen but the rotation is a total mix of players trying to make a comeback or coming off very serious injuries. In my mind that is not a good mix. It will be very difficult for this team to win if they are down by three or four runs after the first five innings along with the fact that if the rotation does struggle the amount of work that it puts on the bullpen.
    All the pitchers in the rotation will have to have career years if they are even going to have a chance to win 80-85 games!
    To be honest I feel that this years team will finish with about 70-73 wins.
    Hope I am wrong but I have a feeling it is going to be a very long summer down at the dome!!!!! Dan

    MW: You’re not alone, but I think you’re wrong. You’ll have to point out to me, too, where I said that J.P. will be gone at the end of this year. The rotation has one or two pitchers trying to come back from a serious injury (Janssen and Maroth), one lefty coming off a very solid first half-season in the bigs and two pitchers coming off great years. As for the “pitching will win you games, good pitching”, that certainly hasn’t borne out for the Jays the last two years. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Marcum, McGowan, Litsch and Janssen to skip town as free agents, either. The earliest any of them is eligible for free agency is after the 2012 season.

    - dan harrison
  63. 63.

    Hi Mike. Is the Canadian baseball team going to be training at Dunedin in February, in preparation for the World Baseball Classic?

    MW: In March, yes.

    - Stan
  64. 64.

    Hey Mike – any idea if you, Jerry and Alan will be doing spring training games on mlb.com this year? And if so, whether you’ll get a few more cracks at play-by-play like last year?

    MW: We’ll be doing some, and if the timing is right, I’ll get to do a few innings, which I always love.

    - Tyler
  65. 65.

    Mike:

    Is it possible fans in Toronto don’t get excited about the “kids” because there is constant referencing to articles explaining how poorly the farm system is ranked? I’m not saying that the system is poor (I agree that you can’t evaluate what’s there until years later). Also I’m suprised about that sentiment considering how many questions on Jays Talk and WWJP there are regarding prospects.
    On another note I find it hard to beleive people are considering giving up their season tickets just because they haven’t had any playoff appearances. I know if I lived closer to T.O. I would at least have one of those nifty flex packs.

    MW: I have stopped trying to figure it out.

    - Howey
  66. 66.

    Mike,

    I am chomping at the bit waiting for this season to finally begin, the baseball off-season seems like it last longer than any other sport. I really believe that the Jays will win between 85-90(if not more) this year. My reasons for this are as follows

    1. We have a full spring-training of Gaston, Tenace and Murphy working with the offense
    2. Our bull-pen is stronger than last year (even though I think we have too many good arms and not sure if there is enough innings for them all)
    3. Even though we have some question marks in the rotation, I think with Arnsberg, Walton and Doc the young “un-proven” kids are in great hands.

    I couldnt agree more with you in regards to Alan Ashby, I think he is doing a great job and sometimes it seems like he has been working with Jerry for years. I’m sure your really enjoying having the time off but I cant wait until your back on the air all the time so we can all have our Jays back and get to listen to the BEST post and pre-game show in the business.

    Cheers Mr. Wilner

    - Chris
  67. 67.

    Hey Mike,

    I see your own expectations for Rolen and Overbay this season are to combine for 35 home runs or so. (While Cito expects 50 or so combined)

    Is there another team in major league baseball from whom you’d expect only 35 home runs from the corner infielders?

    MW: Probably.

    - Ken Pagan
  68. 68.

    Happy Lunar New Year of the Ox.

    1) Do you have any inside information on why Bart Given was let go and what effect it has on front office tasks? The press releases simply state that Messrs. LaCava and Anthopoulos will handle his duies.

    2) It surprises me that the man of .300/.405/.498 lifetime, Bobby Abreu, remains unsigned. Do you see the Dodgers being his destination? That’s my gut feeling.

    3) Mark it down so I can gloat later: Canada will advance to Round 2 of the WBC; I will lead a one-man parade down Yonge St.

    MW: 1 – Nope. 2 – Why the Dodgers? I see him going somewhere where he won’t have to play the field that much. I’d love to have him here. 3 – I hope you’re right, but I don’t see it.

    - Adrian
  69. 69.

    M-Dub,
    Brandon Fahey
    why?
    for the love of god why?
    WHYYYY!!!?!?!?!?!

    MW: Why are you so upset about one of the contenders for the shortstop job at AAA?

    - slobberface
  70. 70.

    Mike, count me in the excited column. I think that Cito and Brad Arnsberg are two coaches who can bring the best out of this team. I have some reservations about cito’s managing, but hey, he still got the jays to ten games above.

    To the guy complaining about 35 homers from the corners, both the Dodgers and the Angels (both made the playoffs) got fewer than thirty home runs from their top THREE at the corners. So yes, it is possible, if you have power in the outfield. Which we do. So…..sweet. This year is gonna be fun.

    Last thing, do we have a weakness in the minors? Because I think at some point this year Scott Richmond or Brett Cecil will become very expendable, so maybe we should plug another hole by trading them. what do you think?

    MW: You think Cecil will become very expendable? How so? Cecil and Richmond are almost polar opposites on the prospect scale, by the way. Cecil being a potential top of the line guy and Richmond being a potential nice bottom-of-the-rotation type. As far as weaknesses in the system, the Jays could really use a shortstop who’s close to being major-league ready.

    - dave
  71. 71.

    MW: I don’t think three execs leaving in five years is any sort of pattern of anything. Law and the Jays came to a mutual parting of the ways because Law no longer had the ear of the higher-ups and found a very good opportunity elsewhere, McCleary was fired – rumour has it – because of a personality conflict with someone who had the ear of someone VERY high up (I’m in McCleary’s corner on that one, if it’s true). The people I have talked to say that Given was laid off, which means that the Jays thought they could cover off his responsibilities with the people they already have in-house and could save money.

    mike, so every team loses 3 execs in 5 years? if not then it is a patter especially when you consider that JP has a very conceited personality and doesn’t like being told he’s wrong (see adam dunn). also I think a job with a mlb club is much better than writing a blog with espn or wherever keith law is. also if that was a mutual parting then does keith take shots at jp every chance he gets? obviously he has a grudge to bear.

    re bart given he cant be making much more than 100g so to save that money is miniscule when you consider the jays payroll of 80 mil. if they really wanted to save money they would be better off slashing payroll no? it’s like driving a hummer then complaining about the mileage. I think vp is a position that is not expendable, either you need it or you don’t.

    also isn’t jp the one that does the firing, not someone “higher up” as you put it.

    also how many execs have to leave before it is a pattern? how many other teams are firing execs?

    MW: Lots.

    - chubby
  72. 72.

    Hi Mike,

    Have looked all around the internet and can’t find any information on whether Eric Thames has healed well from his quad injury. I’m as excited to follow the minors this season as the majors and he is one of the guys I’m most excited for, so if you have/can get any info on him health-wise or where he might start the year (even your opinion) I’d appreciate it.

    On another note, time to start going after some bargain bin hitters as opposed to pitchers. I know Snider will start the year in the bigs and can’t wait to watch him, but wish we’d keep him down ’till the end of May anyway for future purposes. I think Sexson, Nomar (apparently played well defensively at shortstop last season), Alou etc… should be inquired on.

    Janssen, Clement, Maroth, Bullington, Cecil, Richmond, Wolfe, R. Romero, D. ROmero, Brad Mills etc.. should be enough to fill those last spots in the rotation. If we want to go after a guy like Sheets then great, but Benson doesn’t give us anything we don’t already have (except his wife).

    MW: One of my fine front-office sources tells me that Thames is completely recovered and should start the season in Lansing, barring any setbacks.

    - John
  73. 73.

    Because i hate him and i know his geeky ass is going to make his way to “our” bench.
    If hes not good enough for Orioles hes not good enough for the Jays.
    Players are supposed to go to the orioles, from the jays.
    i.e. greggggggg zaun

    - slobberface
  74. 74.

    What are your thoughts on the Canadian team in the WBC?..They will be without some good pitchers..Ryan Dempster is out..Possibly Francis..I belive Harden and Richmond may be the only big leaguers in the starting rotation..

    Bay, Morneau and Votto are a pretty good 3,4,5 in the lineup..How about Mark Teahen? ..Isn’t he American?..One more question..Will the TheFan 590 be broadcasting the games?..

    MW: Richmond will be the only big-leaguer in the rotation, and he’s a borderline big-leaguer at best. Teahen is American, but his father’s from St. Mary’s, Ont., so he’s playing third base for Canada. The line-up will be very good with the guys you mentioned as well as Russ Martin and Matt Stairs, and the bullpen should be OK. The starting pitching will be a major issue, though. As far as I know, the FAN is trying to be the one to broadcast Canada’s games, though no announcement has been made yet.

    - gump
  75. 75.

    Hey Mike
    Why does everyone keep talking about Hill at SS didnt he already say that he wouldnt want to do it?

    MW: He did, but he also said that if it was best for the team, he’d move.

    - James
  76. 76.

    Hello Mike,

    Have you heard any further reports on whether the Jays and A’s are working on a deal for Cust? I know he lead the majors in strikeouts last year, but he also walked quite a bit and hit over 30 HR’s I believe? Do you think he would be a good fit for the DH spot? I can’t wait to hear yourself, Jerry & Alan on the radio again! Spring/summer cannot come soon enough!

    Cheers,
    Tommy

    MW: I haven’t. Cust would be a great for for the DH spot, but he would take away ABs from Lind or Snider, which is probably not a good thing this year.

    - Tommy
  77. 77.

    Mr. Wilner:

    Re: your response to post #42

    Having grown up as the son of an English major, and having spent the past (mumble mumble) years cringing at the general decline in spelling and grammar in my professional correspondences at work, I cheer mightily when you take it upon yourself to champion the English language and its many bizarre rules and structures.

    Imagine my surprise, then, to read about your feelings being “hirt”.

    You can be assured of three things:

    1) I won’t hold this one slip against you
    2) I quadruple-checked this note for mistakes
    3) I sure hope there wasn’t something in the letter to which you were responding which caused you to make the intentional error.

    Actually maybe I should rescind #3 above. Then I can forget about my faith being momentarily shaken.

    (I felt there was too much baseball talk going on in this baseball forum. Oh, alright, if I have to add a baseball comment, I’d love to see the Jays rescue Jason Botts the man-mountain from the trash heap somehow!)

    MW: It was a typo! The “I” is right beside the “U” on the keyboard! I’m allowed a typo!

    - James (from the 'Shwa)
  78. 78.

    Is it possible fans in Toronto don’t get excited about the “kids” because there is constant referencing to articles explaining how poorly the farm system is ranked? I’m not saying that the system is poor (I agree that you can’t evaluate what’s there until years later). Also I’m suprised about that sentiment considering how many questions on Jays Talk and WWJP there are regarding prospects.

    I notice that there is no talk in Tampa of having to wait for years to evaluate their young talent. Seeing them win the AL East and the ALCS kind of told the tale.

    Rays young players:

    Crawford, Upton, Navarro, Brignac, Zobrist, Longoria, Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Price, Sonnanstine

    Jays young players:

    Lind, Snider, Hill, Adams, Marcum, McGowan, Litsch, Janssen, Quiroz, Thigpen,

    Geez……

    Rays 08 payroll:

    60 million

    Jays 08 payroll:

    100 million

    08 Wins:

    Rays 97
    Jays 86

    When JP first rolled into town he explained to Paul Godfrey and the rest of us that you could make the playoffs with a $50 million payroll if you followed the example of the Twins and A’s. But a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs. While he kept telling us that he needed more money, and more money, and even more money still just to tread water in the AL East the Devil Rays got busy, keeping their collective mouths shut, and went about their business of doing exactly what JP said he was gonna do, but later recanted saying was impossible to do in the “tough” AL East.

    The Rays proved that JP was right all along…in that it could be done. If only he had a clue about drafting and player evaluation.

    Memo to JP – the AL East got a lot tougher. Enjoy your lame duck season, and don’t let the door hit your rear on your way back to Boston. Oh yea, right…..you never left Boston in the first place. Maybe the new guy will sign Adam Dunn, draft Tulowitzki instead of Ricky Romero, and actually pull the trigger on the David Wright for Ted Lilly deal that you turned down telling Peter Gammons that the Jays were set at 3B with Eric Hinske. Yea, right !!

    MW: Actually, the biggest difference between what the Rays did and what the Jays did, I think, is that the Rays sucked enough every year to deal their best players (and I use that term loosely) for good young players and prospects at the deadline. Deals like that netted them guys like Kazmir and Navarro, among others. The Jays were always too close to the fringes of the race to make deals like that, in J.P.’s opinion. If you want to fault him for something, fault him for that. Oh, and the Rays also got REALLY lucky last year with guys like Howell, Balfour and Wheeler in the bullpen, Floyd and Hinske. Most people, like yourself, completely disregard that. And don’t forget to add Cecil, Accardo, Purcey, Mills, Arencibia and Jeroloman to your list of the Jays’ good, young players. Quiroz and Adams? Really?

    - Ken
  79. 79.

    Mike…Regardless of what he does in Boston, so in other words, if he retired today, do you consider John Smoltz HOF material?….And also Mike, was it Smoltz the Tigers gave up to acquire Doyle Alexander from Atlanta in ’87 to stick the knife in the Jays? Mike…. Do you remember the “Foil Doyle” placards the Toronto Sun gave out when the Tigers came to town for the last homestand in ’87?

    MW: Yes, yes and not really.

    - chris m.
  80. 80.

    MW: Nope. If he said my show blew chunks and he wouldn’t be caught dead on the air with me, then my feelings would be hirt

    A spelling mistake, Mike? For shame!

    MW: It was a typo, for Pete’s sake! Does anyone out there think I don’t know how to spell “hurt”? Jeez!

    - RV
  81. 81.

    MW: The people I have talked to say that Given was laid off, which means that the Jays thought they could cover off his responsibilities with the people they already have in-house and could save money.

    If he was laid off, then that was a particularly brutal way to do it. The original story that moved over the wire sounded like they had fired him. They should have shown more finesse than that in the press-release.

    As for players under-performing, you’re right. The players should bear a lot of the responsibility for the way they have played. Wells and Rios performed way under expectations last year. I’ll go after the players I think could do better. However I’d go after the manager for signing/trading players who may not be able to do better. Ricciardi has done some good drafting and has gotten excellent pitching. I’m not some crazy rabid anti-JP crusader who hates everything he does. But I am going to say that he has an incredible instinct for a good position player who is about to go south. Glaus, Overbay, Rolen, Eckstein, Thomas, Shannon Stewart–remember him? That’s in the last three seasons. Every one of those signings looked good on paper. Every one of them got here and tanked. Overbay did ok until he broke his hand. Glaus hit a few dingers and even played s/s like a good sport. But that’s about all. Rolen is a gamer and a terrific player but his shoulder problems could end his career. Thomas was just sludge on the base-paths and didn’t hit enough dingers to make up for that fact. Eckstein’s contribution was to take Hill out of the game for the entire season and we’re still not sure he can play again. Shannon Stewart messed-up from the first minute he arrived. Those were JP signings, Mike. Yes, he got some good ones. Scutaro was a lovely surprise last season. Barajas was better than Zaun behind the plate. Bengie Molina hit pretty well. But the big marquee signings, the ones you go out and say ‘look what we got!!!’ Those haven’t worked out well at all.

    MW: Wow – how can you write that after saying that you’re not “some crazy rabid anti-JP crusader”? Glaus came here and hit 38 home runs, Thomas came here and led the team in HR, RBI and OBP, Overbay came here and had the best year of his career before he broke his hand the next season. Eckstein came here and produced to almost EXACTLY his career averages. Stewart didn’t work out, and Rolen hasn’t yet, but they got Rolen for a guy who, in your words, didn’t do more than “hit a few dingers”. As for the other stuff, Wells didn’t perform below expectations last year, he missed a third of he season because he was hurt. And saying the Jays should have shown more finesse in dealing with Given’s layoff in their press release would indicate that there was a press release. There wasn’t.

    - isabella reyes
  82. 82.

    oops actually it’s 4 execs left if you include godfree but jp couldn’t have fired him. godfree obviously left because he knew he was going to be fired. so if the vp is fired and the president was going to be fired, it makes you wonder why the gm is still here.

    MW: I’m amazed at all the inside knowledge you have. You have to tell me who your source is.

    - chubby
  83. 83.

    hey mike, you said you don’t believe you need speed to win? did you watch the world series? did you not see upton beat a ground ball to short, then steal second, then steal third, then score on a fly ball to tie the game late? all without a base hit. speed wins games. the jays need 3 hits just to score 1 run

    MW: Ummmm, the Rays didn’t win the World Series.

    - chubby
  84. 84.

    hey michael,
    been reading about this new joe torre seemingly tell all type book that’s just come out. (at least that’s the way it seems to be portrayed at this point by the critics/media types commenting on it)
    now perhaps the media at this point are making it to be something it’s not to some degree (with the focus at this point being the a-fraud comments & seemingly rocky relationship with former gm cashman etc..)
    but very likely, it might be a good baseball book with lots of important & interesting info re: the yanks, torres with them, his career & baseball in general.
    but i find myself just a little surprised that torre has come out with a book like this. just doesn’t seem like it’s in his character to do this type of thing, not to mention torre doesn’t seem like the type that needs the extra money the book would bring him. obviously he has been extremely well paid over his tenure particularly under the yanks & dodgers.
    of course, considering the vast # of yanks/baseball fans that are out there this does have the potential to be a huge seller no doubt.
    anyway, curious what your thoughts are from what you’ve seen & read so far on this book of his.
    also for what it’s worth, i’m not a fan of alex’s one way or another but really hope a-rod isn’t feeling too harmed by this apparent attempt of back-stabbing because for my money when jeter & some of those other yanks players & torre’s careers are tallied up after it’s over for them, none of them will probably be able to compare to what a-rod’s career, stats & h of f credentials will look like.
    we’ll see on that i guess.
    later
    db.

    MW: I’m withholding judgement until I actually read the whole thing, not just the juiciest line or two.

    - darrell bishop
  85. 85.

    Now that Torre book has become a blockbuster, you think Gibby will write a book ?

    - Chas Calz
  86. 86.

    Hey Mike,

    Love the blog and miss the jays talk soooo much.

    Just wanted to ask if you know how Aaron Hill is doing. I remember reading an article in November that he had been cleared to workout in preparation for the ’09 season. However concussions can be unpredictable and symptoms can return unexpectedly. I’ve scoured the net to try and find info but have been unsuccessful.

    I truly believe he is a key part of their lineup and was sorely missed last year.

    Thanks Mike. Can’t wait ’til spring training.

    MW: I believe that he was sorely missed last year, too, even though Joe Inglett did a great job filling in. As far as I have heard, he’s fine. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of weeks!

    - Justin Wells
  87. 87.

    thank god jp hired all these scouts from the worst teams in baseball. hopefully one day we can become powerhouses like seatlle, pittsburgh and texas. oh to dream

    funny how the jays didn’t have the resources to sign more scouts? huh? they have 120 mil to blow on wells but can’t afford a few 100g on scouts?

    I really believe the people at rogers have no clue about baseball

    - chubby
  88. 88.

    Hey Mike,

    I had the opportunity to talk to meet Jeff Blair the other day. He talked about how this will be one of the first years will players (especially pitchers) will sit out and sign a contract during the mid-season (sorta what Roger Clemens did a few years ago with Houston). Do you think vetern pitchers who don’t need the extra cash (Pedro) would sign with a contender during midseason? Is there some sorta rule Is there a date where a pitcher has to sign to be eligible for the post season roster?

    Thanks

    MW: It’ll be interesting to see. August 31st is the deadline date for post-season eligibility.

    - James from Mississauga
  89. 89.

    Hi Mike, I went back and read the blog again from the state of the franchise evening. Would like to apologize, you did not mention that J.P. would be gone at the end of the season.(I thought you did)
    It was nice of you to take the time to answer my e-mail and I really do appreciate it! Seems like the players I mentioned have been around alot longer then I thought. That is the reason I thought they were so close to being free-agents, I am happy that the Jay’s will have all these players under control for the next three years.
    With all the young talent the Jay’s have at the big league level and the minor league level, would you go after Jake Peavey, as long as he agrees to play in Canada,as well as a contract extension ????? Dan

    MW: Peavy wouldn’t need a contract extension, he’s signed through 2013 (club option for that season). Of course I’d go after him, but the price would likely be high and it’s moot anyway, because I doubt he’d waive the no-trade to come here.

    - dan harrison
  90. 90.

    Mike…With Milton Bradley being in the news as a free agent and his signing with the Cubs, it reminded me of another guy with that short fuse, volatile type temperament: Carl Everitt…What became of him Mike? Just retirement or did teams grow weary of his actions?

    MW: Everett wasn’t a good enough hitter to make up for his personality.

    - chris m.
  91. 91.

    Fahey + Millar = im moving to kansas city and filing for refugee status.
    i hate my life.

    MW: You should probably stop commenting here.

    - slobberface
  92. 92.

    MW: And saying the Jays should have shown more finesse in dealing with Given’s layoff in their press release would indicate that there was a press release. There wasn’t.

    Then there bloody well should have been one. That was a disgrace. What the hell happened to the smoothest front-office in the game?

    MW: In the grand scheme of things – who cares?

    - isabella reyes
  93. 93.

    …and one more thing.

    You are a lot younger than I am so probably way too young to remember this: in the early to mid ’80s the team wasn’t terribly good. We had some good players but overall they were a bunch of merry under-achievers. In those days there was an Ontario Hydro (I think) ad about hot water, showing the team getting beat and at least enjoying the hot water in their latest after-shut-out shower. However in ’85 that began to change. And so did the ad. Now it was our boys hitting out the park and the other guys hitting the showers early after being shut out. I don’t know what turned that team around, but turn around it did. Maybe it’s just a question of belief. But whatever happened then, I surely wish would happen now!

    MW: Yes, that’s what it was. Belief. And unicorns, don’t forget unicorns.

    - isabella reyes
  94. 94.

    Mike…Sometimes it takes an injury to give someone a chance to shine. I remember in 1991 when Stieb got hurt and the Jays brought up some guy named Juan Guzman and although I don’t have the stats to confirm it, I don’t believe he had the best numbers of all the starters at Syracuse at his time of promotion. Another example and I apologize for jumping from MLB to the NHL, is this years’ N.J. Devils with all-world goalie Marty Brodeur going down and Maple Leaf castoff Scott Clemmensen filling in admirably and the Devils not missing a beat…Mike, do you think Purcey or Cecil, due to the injuries to Marcum and McGowan, could be this years’ “Guzman or Clemmensen”?

    MW: They both could be, they’re both very, very good young pitchers. But I wouldn’t expect it – don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

    - chris m.
  95. 95.

    Mike,

    How’s it going? Just read through most of the blogs on here, catching up on the Jays. I used to get most of my information from MLB.com, but this is way more insightful. The fan interaction is what I like most about it. So great job. Whether the Jays are good or not, I always look forward to the season. I always think that the possibility of a great season is within the realm. This year is no different. I truely believe with a healthy Wells, Overbay being fully recovered from the hand injury, and the emergence of the young players, the Jays could be good this year. The bullpen is solid, and with an ace like Doc, anything from the rotation is possible. I don’t think the Jays are done this offseasin though. I can imagine that JP is chomping at the bit and if a good trade comes along, I can see him jumping at it. I do have to disagree with some logic though. You said Rios an be considered a star right now because of all-star appearances 2 of last 3 years, but how much of that has to do with injuries and the fact that every team has to have an all star? He had 1 good season. I’m not saying that he won’t be great. Shawn Green took a lot longer to beakout than people thought and he turned out to be fine. I am disappointed by people saying Wells is overpaid. I did not want to see him in a Ranger uniform, or worse, Yankee uniform last year or any year. He has proved to be worth the money when healthy. Thank you

    MW: Thanks for the kind words. Rios has has two spectacular half-seasons, and he was worthy of all-star inclusion both times. I said Rios “could” be considered a star right now, not “can” be – big difference, and I disagree with you on Wells. I don’t think he’s been worth his ticket, even when healthy, but I don’t blame him AT ALL for signing the contract.

    - Justin
  96. 96.

    Speaking of Joe Inglett… (comment #86), Few have said much about him this offseason and how solid of a year he had! Where are we likely to see him in ’09, esp. if Hill is healthy?

    MW: On the bench, unless someone is hurt.

    - SS
  97. 97.

    Who’s your early favourite(s) to get hired for Paul Godfrey’s ol’ position?

    MW: I don’t really have one.

    - SS
  98. 98.

    Scutaro or Johnny Mac for opening day? :)

    MW: Right now, probably Scoot.

    - SS
  99. 99.

    I must say Isabelle has some good points..Overbay had one good season out of three..Yes he had a career year in 06′ but in 07′ even before he broke his hand in June, he batted .258 with 7Hr..2008 wasn’t so great either..A .270 avg. was below his career average and 15 hr with 24GDP isn’t good..

    Thomas didn’t start hitting until the end of the season when the Jays were way out of the race..7 HR and a .231 BA after 55 games isn’t good enough for 10 mil a season..Lets not forget he only played for 16 games in 08′for which he was paid almost 13 million bucks..Maybe they have more money to get players for this season if they don’t blow a wad of dough on this guy..

    I agree with you about Glaus..He had a good year and at least they got something for him..

    As for the free agents signed by Riccardi, you have to agree, they haven’t been great..Thamas and Burnett were busts..Ryan may be the best of the lot..He has had a few decent trades and some bad ones as well..

    The Jays just haven’t put it all together under Riccardi..

    There isn’t any direction for this franchise..One season were building our youth then the next he is blowing wads of cash on 39 yr olds..Now were building youth again..The “wait till next year” slogan is in full force this season..I mean how many more years does he need?..

    MW: How can you say that Burnett was a bust? I also like that the “end of the season when the Jays were way out of the race” for Thomas was Game 56.

    - gump
  100. 100.

    Hey Mike,

    Hope the break is treating you well. I am cautiously optimistic about the Jays this year.

    The one thing I really want to say though is that I feel J.P. should go out of his way to sign Pedro Martinez, he would be a fantastic influence on the up and comers, and who knows, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a pretty good year. Where do I let JP know about this?

    MW: I’m sure he’s already considered it, but I guess you could call the Blue Jays.

    - James R.
  101. 101.

    MW: The Jays were always too close to the fringes of the race to make deals like that, in J.P.’s opinion. If you want to fault him for something, fault him for that.

    yes you are absolutely right mike, we will fault him for that. the fact is the jays have always been out of it by the trade deadline. if JP had traded guys like wells and burnett the team would have been in much better position. even now JP has said he is not even considering trading bj ryan. if 2009 is a wash year then why do you need a 10 mil closer? then 2010 will be his last year. there is no long term future with ryan so why not cut loose now and use that 10 mil either this year or next year and fill some holes.

    - chubby
  102. 102.

    hey mike you contradicted yourself again. your predicted the jays a winning team this year but then said 80-85 wins. I’m not sure how you do math but 80 wins is below .500 which means losing team. 81 is .500

    MW: I contradict myself all the time.

    - chubby
  103. 103.

    mike, since alomar and carter how many career nl’ers have come to the jays and have had consistent success? I’m a big believer in precedents. I remember when the raptors drafted arujo. I knew he would be a flop because that school had only 1 nba player in it’s history. what are the odds that he would have been a success? not good.

    likewise we’ve seen flops like orland merced, otis nixon, raul mondesi, that flop left closer ash signed etc and now we see JP following the same path with prokopec, overbay, batista, rolen, burnett. overbay actually played well for 2 years but has regressed. burnett was ok when healthy but his era and whip in the al was significantly worse than his good years in the nl.

    the players that played well for the jays, glaus and ryan actually played well in the al so you knew they had a history of success so it was no surprise.

    every league has these tendencies where one conference is stronger than the other. currently the nba west is much stronger than the east. same was true in the nfl when the bills kept getting blown out in the superbowl.

    I think the past 10 years the AL has been much stronger than the NL. 9/last14 ws have gone the AL 6/last9 also when the NL has won the series went longer, but many of the AL wins were blowouts. also I think the past 10 allstar games were won by the AL

    I think we’ve seen enough precedents that I don’t want to see any more NL’ers on the blue jays

    - chubby
  104. 104.

    Hey Mike. Just thought I’d sent you a message from an internet cafe in Thailand in case you were worried that I had quit reading your stuff. They don’t have baseball here but I was watching some cricket on TV and it made me realize how much greater baseball is. I wonder why it’s popular in Japan but not in Thailand.

    MW: Never having been to either place, I couldn’t answer. But thanks for keeping in touch!

    - Matt from Thailand
  105. 105.

    Consider this an email, not a post.

    MW: I deleted Isabella’s “e-mail”, since she didn’t want it public, but I had to respond to one thing: We’re going to have to agree to disagree, except for one thing, since you’ve mentioned it more than once. On the pay that knocked Hill out for the season, the ball was Eckstein’s. He called for it, and Hill ignored him. It was Hill’s fault, not Eckstein’s.

    - isabella reyes
  106. 106.

    Hi Mike;

    Just heard the allegations from Torre’s new book about macnamee spouting off about the egregious use of amphetamines by the jays and gord ash wished to remain in the dark about this? Ouch, even if there is any validity to this, could the jays sue macnamee for libel as this negative press in the midst of a recession is not prudent. To think of former jays glaus and zaun from the mitchell report were tarnished publicity. Anyway keep up the good work mike, maybe the jays with there rookies can surprise like the rays did last year if our pitching holds up, thx for the blog.

    MW: If there’s any validity to it, the Jays can’t sue, but that’s such a non-story. The Jays were no different than any other major-league team.

    - robert.s
  107. 107.

    “As far as free agent pitchers are concerned, Ricciardi said that he didn’t see any out there (that the Jays could afford) who were any better than the kids could be if they were given an opportunity”

    That’s all great. But what happens when injuries hit the pitching staff, as they have every single season?

    Then the lack of depth and foresight to sign a couple of pitching free agents during the off-season really hurts.

    No one is asking JP not to give youngsters a chance, but having them come in as call ups, when MLBers get hurt, is far better than throwing them into action too early and having nothing game ready in Triple-A to call up once a regular gets hurt.

    MW: And how many decent free agent pitchers would sign when told: “We want to give our kids a chance to play, so you’ll be in AAA until and unless someone gets hurt.”?

    - couchetard
  108. 108.

    comment 91
    why should i stop commenting?
    you a big kevin millar fan now?
    sorry if it offends you to think of me cheering for the royals.

    MW: It has nothing to do with Kevin Millar (great guy, not much of a help on the field anymore). It just has to do with the constant stream of negativity. Not just you, but from a bunch of the commenters here. Take that stuff somewhere else.

    - slobberface
  109. 109.

    Mike wanted to send this real quick in regards to what was said in e-mail #95.
    “I am sure J.P. is champing at the bit for a good trade to come along”
    Would someone refresh my memory about the last trade he made that had any impact on the current roster?
    Seems like Glaus for Hudson was ages ago!!
    Maybe another lefthanded reliever picked up on waivers?
    Just wondering, do you think the Jay’s will go with an all left handed bullpen this season???? dan

    MW: Sigh

    - dan harrison
  110. 110.

    O.H. how could I forget!
    Glaus for Rolen!
    That seems to be working out well!!!!!

    MW: And again.

    - dan harrison
  111. 111.

    Mike, I read that Kevin Millar isn’t a member of the MLBPA. How does this possibly work? Are there any other major leaguers who aren’t members and yet regularly play?

    MW: I believe, though I might be wrong about this, that Millar was a replacement player back in the spring of 1995. Those guys were never let into the union.

    - Sam McLean
  112. 112.

    Mike….The term “small market team” always and still does, somewhat confuse me…Never could fully comprehend it… I see the Royals having trouble drawing flies and literally across the parking lot, the Chiefs’ fans are in abundance…The Expos moved to Puerto Rico then Washington because of dwindling fan support, yet there’s 21,000 nightly singing “OLE OLE Ole’ at Habs’ games, so my original belief that it was a geographical thing or a population thing would be shot down with those examples above..Then I thought small market was a fancy economical term for fans not giving a hoot..Mike, what does it actually refer to? And if it’s too lengthy to answer here, I understand fully and maybe I can save that question for Jays Talk one day. If you can respond here and now, take it easy on me. Grade 13 economics was 26 yrs. ago….Thanks Mike

    MW: I think that a lot of people confuse the term “small market” with “small revenue”. There’s no way that Montreal is a small market, and Toronto is the 4th biggest market in North America.

    - chris m.
  113. 113.

    Mike
    Has Inglett ever had expirience at SS because i would much rather see Inglett in the batting order over Scutaro and they are pretty much even defensively.

    MW: Scutaro is a much better defensive shortstop than Inglett.

    - James
  114. 114.

    40 year old Japanese bum and an over-the-hill replacement player/mascot… Jays are the only team to NOT to have signed a major league player this off-season. Fantastic. Can’t wait for this season to start.

    MW: Awesome! Me neither!

    - Renegade
  115. 115.

    I can’t wait for the new season, hey mike how about this year actually fielding a couple a grounders, you know show the jays how it’s done?

    MW: That’s funny, especially considering the Blue Jays have been one of the best defensive teams in baseball the last couple of years.

    - Captain C
  116. 116.

    MW – Oh, and the Rays also got REALLY lucky last year with guys like Howell, Balfour and Wheeler in the bullpen, Floyd and Hinske. Most people, like yourself, completely disregard that.

    Ken – Thomas Edison said that luck is the convergence of “perspiration and opportunity”. He was right.

    Rays sign Floyd & Hinske. Jays sign Mench and Wilkerson.

    Rays deal for Bartlett. Jay’s deal for McDonald after dealing Hudson & Lopez away.

    Howell, Balfour, and Wheeler all had impressive skill sets before they arrived in Tampa Bay. They Ray’s converted Howell to a reliever and the results show the intelligence of that move. THIS IS NOT LUCK. It’s called talent evaluation. Balfour was a dominant strike-out pitcher before his surgery in 2004. Tampa Bay knew this and went out and acquired him from the Brewers. Again, THIS IS NOT LUCK. It’s called talent evaluation.

    Wheeler posted a 2.21 ERA in 73 IP in 2005, a 2.52 ERA in 71 IP in 2006. His BABIP took an unlucky jump in 2007 causing his ERA to climb. Tampa Bay recognized that he was unlucky in 2007. I really don’t see how a 3.12 ERA in 2008 can be classed as “REALLY” lucky after he had proven in the past that he could pitch to a low 2.xx ERA in both 2005 and 2006.

    MW: I hate to tell you, but it’s luck. I also took the liberty of deleting the entire top of your post, when you cut and pasted my responses to other people into your comments to make it look as though I was responding to you. Let’s see how well Howell, Balfour and Wheeler do in 2009. Remember the great White Sox bullpen of 2005 in their Championship season with Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts. Poliite and Cotts each had a WHIP under 1.00 and combined to throw127 2/3 innings and Hermanson allowed 63 baserunners in 57 1/3 innings (1.099 WHIP) and had 34 saves. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Also, for the love of the English language, please learn how to use an apostrophe.

    - Ken
  117. 117.

    MW: I’m amazed at all the inside knowledge you have. You have to tell me who your source is.

    Ken – Bob McGowan said on the air the Godfrey was on his way out in July of 2008. Godfrey has never appeared on the Bobcat’s show after that remark, and they were good friends. McGowan said that he was told by a friend that worked at a head-hunting firm that Rogers was looking for an executive to take over the Blue Jays. Apparently they still are.

    MW: I’m not sure that’s true about Godfrey never appearing on Prime Time (hosted by Bob McCown, by the way) after Bob made that remark. I don know that he didn’t go on the show for a while, but that remark by Bob wasn’t the reason. See, I actually do have inside information with stuff like that.

    - Ken
  118. 118.

    Hey Mike, few things to get to:
    -Is Thigpen out of options this year? I’d venture a guess that in an ideal situation the Jays would break camp with Captain/Barrett, but if Thigpen’s out of options is he sort of by default the leading candidate for the backup job, or are the Jays willing to let him go?
    -Continuing the catching theme, JPA starts the year in New Hampshire, right? It just wouldn’t make sense to have both he and Jerolman splitting time in Vegas. Does that mean that Barrett would be the logical odd man out should Thigpen be with the big club, or is there a spot for him on the bench as a DH/1B/3rd C?
    -Lastly, how do you think Cito will approach LHP this year? I probably wouldn’t do it right out of the gate, but you platoon Overbay/Bautista you’ve got yourself a solid .850+ OPS for about $9M. In fact, it would seem there’s a spot somewhere at either 1B. 3B, LF or DH for Bautista when a southpaw is on the mound. Does he figure to be a big part of Cito’s lineup as the numbers would show he can be?

    MW: 1 – The Jays are willing to let him go, shown by the fact that they took him off the 40-man just this afternoon when they claimed Brian Burres. 2 – I think Arencibia and Jeroloman both likely start the year at Syracuse, sharing time. 3 – Good question. I’d love to see Overbay being platooned, but I don’t know if Bautista is the right guy for the job. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a lefty-mashing first baseman, and Bautista isn’t that (though he hits lefties well, even a Josh Phelps-type is a far better option). I think, though, that Bautista is going to wind up getting a lot of work against lefties.

    - Karim
  119. 119.

    Two things. First, to the dude up there who said the west is better than the east in the nba, hes wrong. The East is winning the season series by about twenty games or so.

    Second, i think people expecting JP to sign a pitcher, when theres already going to be a logjam when McGowan gets back. Even if Cecil or Richmond make it to the majors, they only get a couple of months (Assuming Janssen is fine). Why sign more pitchers, and curtail development?

    Which brings me to my point to you mike. I said that richmond or Cecil will be expendable, meaning that hopefully they will increase their trade value enough to get something important in return, because we won’t need whoever breaks camp. Im thinking Cecil to the Brewers for Alcides Escobar. they need pitching, and we need a shortstop/leadoff. Even throw in a reliever as well.

    MW: Escobar looks as though he’s going to be a heck of a player, but so does Cecil. I’m not sure I’d do that deal, and I’m sure the Brewers would rather part with J.J. Hardy. Also, I don’t know if Escobar is ready to be a big-leaguer yet, let alone a big-league leadoff man. He’s never played above AA except for his nine-game September call-up this year, and his career obp as a pro is .328, though he made quite a jump to .363 this season and, of course, he only just turned 22.

    - dave
  120. 120.

    cheers!!

    - dave
  121. 121.

    108
    M-Dub
    Dont pile me in, with those who sling crap around this place.
    I havent contributed any negativity to your comment section since May.
    For the most part, im very happy posting pictures of AJ in Yankee Stadium, talking about the visiting players who come to Rogers Centre, Chad Billingsley and Kurt Thomas’ starring role in Gymkata.
    Im very sorry if the thought of Millar and Fahey in Jays uniforms caused me to relapse. Its a very long winter. At least the A’s got Holliday and Giambi; maybe we can trade bobby keilty for one of them.

    MW: Sorry, you undid a lot of work with the Fahey thing. That’s one of the things that really gets to me – you go nuts over the fact that they signed the guy who’s going to be their 5th-string shortstop. Why?

    - slobberface
  122. 122.

    Mike just read the your comments on the block posted today. At the end you stated how you are tired of the negativity as well as the bashing of the organization is bothering you.
    Well this is just an example of the number of people who still care!(in my mind anyway)
    Most people that contribute on this blog are tired of the way things are being handled! After several managers,hitting coaches,pitching coaches and scouts have been fired it is time for the man behind all of this to take the heat.
    How this organization can continue to try and sell the Jay’s is beyond me!
    This year the Leafs or Raptors will most likely not make the playoffs? This would be the fourth season in a row that the Jay’s will have the T.O. sporting market totally to themselves.
    If you were not working for the station that owns the team,you can’t tell me that you would be anxious too spend your hard earned money going down to the dome to watch this team? You say this is negative! We as fans have said enough is enough! This is seven yrs.
    We have been patient!
    You think the fans want a World Series or a Wild Card berth?
    For myself I would be happy if this team was two or three games out at the end of Aug. The chances of that happening this year are not good.
    Winning gets people interested! Remember when you would be out with your buddies on a fishing trip or with your family on a camping trip sitting around the fire listing to the game on the radio, having to adjust the channel so you could hear through the static?
    Or when you could talk Jay’s at work with people around the lunch room!
    The reason people are being so critical is because it is well deserved!
    It has been 15 or 16 yrs. since the Jay’s played there last playoff game.
    In closing how do you expect people to recieve moves like the Jay’s have made??
    Clement has not pitched in two years!
    Lane a minor league outfielder!
    Fahey another light hitting middle infielder!
    Finally a 40 yr. old “SUPRISE” lefthanded pitcher to possibly pitch in the bullpen.
    WHAT IS THIS FACINATION WITH LEFTHANDED RELIEF PITCHERS
    We as fans have every right to be upset!!

    P.S. I have never encouraged anyone to stay away from the Dome this year!!
    What people are writing on here in most cases makes sense!
    Let’s not sugarcoat this anymore!
    The organization is not rewarding the fans with a good on field product! This has to change!!!

    MW: I can’t agree with pretty much anything you have written. The Blue Jays have been a VERY GOOD on-field product the last three years, and last year they were arguably one of the five best teams in major-league baseball. If you don’t want to see that, then that’s your prerogative. Many people believe that pitching and defense wins championships, and for the last two years the Blue Jays have had the best pitching and defense in the game. One can only do so much.

    - dan harrison
  123. 123.

    Whoa Mike..Your not actually arguing that Thomas wasn’t a bust are you?..He was paid 13 mill to get lost in 08′after 16 games and an anemic buck sixty-seven average…

    I was merely pointing out that Thomas got off to a horrific start..I would say 1/3 of a season (55 games) is a long time to not perform when your getting paid just to hit..He had a decent season but far removed from the 39 HR he hit in 2006..Overall he was a major bust..18 million bucks for 29 HR..

    As for Burnett..He was paid 31 million bucks for parts of 3 seasons..He didn’t get the Jays over the hump and lets not forget he was booed in July after posting an ERA over 5.00..I just don’t think a few months of good work over a 3 year contract is good enough..

    Where was this Burnett the previous 2 seasons?..He finished strong but isn’t that the A.J way?..If he had won 10 games this past season he would have remained a Jay and whined his way through the next 2 seasons..Maybe he would have flipped us the bird a few more times for old times sake..

    He was up and down in 2008 like a 20 dollar hooker..He was magnificent in some of his starts and some of the months and horrific at times as well..He gave up more then 6 runs 5 times in 2008..4 of them in the span of 7 starts..

    Halladay hasn’t given up more then 6 runs since June of 2007..He was pitching with a busted gut when that happened..

    Sorry Mike..Burnett was just good enough in Toronto to earn another contract worth too much..

    MW: Comparing anyone to Roy Halladay is useless. I never said Thomas wasn’t a huge bust, he was, what I was arguing was your unfair and incorrect point that he didn’t start hitting in 2007 until it was too late and the Jays were finished. It was May. As for Burnett, for three years and $31 million, he did OK.

    - gump
  124. 124.

    Yea I agree with that..Halladay is a rare bird..I think Burnett did OK as well..Maybe not a complete bust but a little bit anyway..

    The key to staying in any race in the American League East is to stay within striking distance throughout the season..If you fall 10+ games behind the Yanks or the Sox at any point during the season, you may very well be out if it in May..

    Tampa never fell behind the lead more then 5 games in 2008..If they fall 10+ games out at any point after May, they’re done..In fact, Since 1993 (the last time the Jays made the playoffs..I wasn’t ambitious enough to check beyond that) the only team to come back to win the Wildcard after trailing more then 10 games in May, was the 2007 Yankees..

    Its a tough stretch if you fall too far behind teams like the Yanks and Sox..

    - gump
  125. 125.

    121.
    M-Dub,
    Nothing scares me more than the thought of the Bluejays becoming the Orioles.
    My nightmare is coming closer to fruition with the latest aquisition of Burres.
    My hatred of Fahey is unfair and ridiculous, but I cant help it. He is my anti-Billingsley.
    No matter what you say, I know I will be forced to watch this pencil-neck at some point in the upcoming season. I guess I can live with that if hes just pinch-running. He is fast.
    I feel as though I’ve paid my dues entitling me to hate Baltimore.
    1. I did the road-trip to Camden.
    1. I got in a car accident directly across from the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
    3. I watched the jays get obliterated in the first 2 games of a 3 gamer (thanks kevin millar)
    4. I risked my life walking the streets at night.
    5. It was all worth it when the Doc took a no-hitter into the 5th in game 3.

    game 3 pic:

    http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i281/slobbaface/1087788363_l.jpg

    I get it though. This isnt the place to vent. This is your park. Im sorry.

    MW: Thanks. There’s nothing wrong with hating Baltimore. If the Jays had signed Fahey to come in and compete for a job that wasn’t “last guy on the bench” (which they still didn’t even do) your frustration would be warranted.

    - slobberface
  126. 126.

    GO JAYS GO!!!

    - baseballfan!
  127. 127.

    I guess, in an ironic twist, Im giving him more credit than you are.
    He has 50+ big league starts in the OF.
    Who is our back up OF? Buck Coats?
    No way.
    Its freaking fahey.
    He even has time at 2B and 3B.
    The Orioles went and got Freel.
    We got fahey.
    ugh.

    MW: The back-up outfielder appears to be Lind, with Snider, Wells and Rios playing every day. The 5th outfielder is Joe Inglett, the 6th is Jose Bautista and the 7th will be Kevin Millar. Then there’s Buck Coats, Jason Lane, Wayne Lydon and probably even Marco Scutaro before you get to Fahey.

    - slobberface
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