11:35 PM Eastern
There are several things for me to touch on in this post, and let’s start with the events of today – the Blue Jays signed 40 year-old Japanese lefty Ken Takahashi to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training and revealed that Kevin Millar has been offered a similar contract.
The grand sum total of these two moves is next to nothing, and certainly not worth the wringing of hands and rending of garments I’m seeing across the blogosphere from the Blue Jays’ “faithful fans”.
Takahashi is not going to crack the best bullpen in baseball. He could be OK, he could have no impact at all, with the latter far more likely, but he’s another arm in the minor-league system, he’s not blocking anyone, and who knows, he could give them an in with the Hiroshima Carp as far as postings go down the road. Remember, the Japanese League team that posts a free agent doesn’t have to accept the highest bid, they pick the team they want to pick.
As for Millar, let’s all just calm down. First of all, he hasn’t accepted the Jays’ offer and he may well not, thinking he can get a major-league offer from someone in the next month or so, or choosing to wait for a team that he prefers to extend him the same offer. And if he does accept the offer and makes his way to Dunedin, that’s going to be a fun seven weeks of Spring Training that will probably end with him going to Las Vegas to wait until someone gets hurt or until some other team wants to offer him a spot in the big leagues. Maybe the Jays get a few hundred grand out of it, like they gave the Rangers for Kevin Mench (sorry to remind you of that).
The fact is, the Jays have their nine starters, who will be playing everyday, and their bench of four is likely to consist of Michael Barrett, John McDonald, Joe Inglett and Jose Bautista. There’s no room for Millar there, unless he proves to be a better option than Bautista. Millar has played third and the outfield corners in the past, like Bautista does, but right now Bautista is the better bat (against lefties, at least), and the Jays are paying him $2.4 million.
Which brings me to the next point. Why in the name of everything that’s good and just are the Blue Jays paying Jose Bautista $2.4 million for the upcoming season? I’ll grant that it’s a non-guaranteed contract like Reed Johnson’s was last winter (sorry to remind you of that, too), so that the Jays can cut him in Spring Training and only be on the hook for $400,000, but seriously. Nothing against Bautista, who is a really nice guy and a decent bat to have against lefties, but in this marketplace there’s no way that Bautista gets an offer even close to that as a free agent.
The only things I can think of are that the Jays were either operating on the “bird in the hand” theory or that they didn’t want to have given up Robinzon Diaz for six weeks of Jose Bautista in a season that wasn’t going anywhere.
Even if they do cut him in Spring Training, they’re still on the hook for 400 grand, and if he makes the team, they’re likely paying him at least a million and a half dollars more than they would have had they just cut him loose in December and re-signed him.
It’s mind-bottling for a team that’s watching its pennies to the extent that it laid off one of the assistant G.M.’s to be wasting money like this.
The next item on the list is the fact that Joe Torre mentioned the Blue Jays in his book, and there are those who are getting all out of sorts about the revelation that Brian McNamee said every Jays pitcher was taking amphetamines when he was there and Gord Ash just looked the other way.
Someone will have to explain to me why this is a big deal. From about the 1950s, maybe earlier, until last year PRETTY MUCH EVERY PLAYER IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES WAS ON SPEED. Sorry, that’s just the way it was. Now they’re testing for it, so now guys are pounding a dozen Red Bulls or drinking 30 cups of coffee before or during every game. They used to have jars of greenies in the clubhouse like candy dishes, and players would grab handfuls as they went by.
Jeff Blair’s story in today’s Globe and Mail includes an e-mail from Gord Ash in which the Jays’ ex-G.M. said that he had no reason to believe that the Jays were unique and that there were no obvious issues. That sounds just about right. Sure, the Jays were taking speed. Everybody was. That was the culture of major league baseball up until last season.
I spoke to a lot of baseball people about illegal performance enhancers when the Commissioner’s Office announced the first set of more stringent drug testing, and the answers – to a man – were the same. Should they ban steroids? “Yes, steroids are harmful and it’s cheating and it’s terrible and evil and we have to clean up the game.” Should they ban amphetamines? “Well, it’s a long season……..” I’ve already spent more time on this issue than it deserves.
The last thing I want to touch on is the comments section. Frankly, I’m sick of the negativity and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. You don’t like J.P. Ricciardi? Fine. You think the Jays are going to suck this year? OK by me. A minor-league signing makes you want to throw yourself off a cliff? Don’t land on anybody. I don’t want to hear about it.
I had hoped that by ending EVERY post I write with “rational, reasonable comments are welcome” that I wouldn’t get any irrational, unreasonable comments. That certainly hasn’t been the case. There are many good Blue Jays blogs out in the ether that would sit somewhere on a scale of loving to tolerating those sorts of comments. This isn’t one of them. If you have a question I can answer, that’s cool. If you want to talk baseball, no problem. If you want to criticize the Blue Jays AND HAVE SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO SAY, outstanding. If you just want to say that J.P. sucks and the team sucks and nobody should ever go to a baseball game in Toronto until he’s fired and Lyle Overbay is traded, then please take your act elsewhere.