1:50 PM Eastern

FIRST THINGS FIRST  – CAST YOUR VOTE FOR TOM CHEEK!!!!!  The voice of the Blue Jays, of baseball and of summer in Canada is on the ballot to get onto the final ballot for the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence, an honour that would get him into the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  It’s up to us to make sure he gets his due.  Go to www.facebook.com/baseballhall, go to the “poll” section and please vote for Tom.  Do it every day.  Thank you.

Now then……….the Blue Jays wrapped up their wheelings and dealings – or distinct lack thereof – at the Winter Meetings without the big boss.  The Rule 5 draft took place this morning in the absence of General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, who took an early flight and got the heck out of Dodge.  Chances are, Alex didn’t want to face the hordes of media that would have descended upon him at the end of the draft, when there’s really no way to cut out and just do a private chat with the local scriveners and electronic types.

So the Rule 5 was left in the hands of Alex’s two trusted lieutenants, Tony LaCava and Dana Brown, along with Charlie Wilson, the new director of minor-league operations.  The three of them put their heads together and delved deep into Brown’s intimate knowledge of the Washington Nationals’ system, him having just come over from being their scouting director, and selected a pair of right-handed relievers:  Zech Zinicola in the major-league phase and Ruben de la Rosa in the minor-league phase.

Zinicola has to remain on the Blue Jays’ active roster (or major-league disabled list) all season or be offered back to the Nats for half the draft price of $50,000 that the Jays paid for him.  Zinicola will  be 24 on Opening Day and was a 6th-round pick of the Nationals back in 2006 out of Arizona State.  He has been clocked from 90-96 miles an hour and features a plus slider, which makes him an attractive commodity.  What he doesn’t feature is a whole lot of control – he has walked 103 over 210 innings as a pro, an average of 4.4 per nine innings.  He’s no Nuke LaLoosh, the guy who has no clue where the ball is going when it leaves his hand, but he’s still someone who has to do a better job throwing strikes.  He’ll get his chance under the watchful eyes of Bruce Walton and Rick Langford.  If Zinicola needs a year of coaching and teaching and experience at the major-league level in order to really turn into something, the Jays can definitely afford to have him sit around as the 7th man in the bullpen all year.

Last year, Zinicola started the season at Double-A Harrisburg – his fourth stop at that level – and was very good, save for the nine walks in 20 innings.  He was bumped up to AAA for the second time, and for the second time, really struggled.  Not with the walks, though – he only issued 10 free passes in 33 1/3 innings.  He just got beat up, allowing 47 hits and winding up with a 7.56 ERA.  A lot of that was bad luck, believe it or not, as the BABIP against him was a whopping .442 – the norm is supposed to be around .300.  Again, while his ERA was 7.56, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was just 2.99, which augurs well.  It appears – but only appears, certainly I’ve never seen the guy pitch – that Zinicola wasn’t nearly as bad last year as his numbers would indicate.

De la Rosa is a lot farther away, having been selected in the minor-league phase after pitching about 30 innings in the Gulf Coast rookie league last season.  I say about 30 because three different minor-league sites have three different statistical totals for him.  Regardless of where you look, though, he was dominant.  The native of Bani in the Dominican Republic (birthplace of Erick Aybar – could it be??) will be 23 on Opening Day, so he’s old for his level, but in the GCL last season he put up a 0.96 ERA and1.14 WHIP, striking out 44 in just 28 innings (or a 0.87 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, striking out 47 in 31 innings, depending on who you believe).  Opponents had a .318 BABIP against him, which is far more normal than Zinicola’s, and de la Rosa posted a FIP of 1.83.  Again, it’s a sample size of very few innings and it’s a low-level league for someone his age.

De la Rosa hits 93 on the gun with a plus curveball and good make-up, and even though he was picked in the AAA phase of the draft, he’s not required to stay on the Vegas roster or be offered back to Washington.  The Jays can put him at any level they want.  That’s good, because it’s a hell of a jump to go from the Gulf Coast League to the Pacific Coast League.

In other Blue Jays news, there was a buzz around the Marriott this morning because of a report that the Jays had signed Joey Gathright.  The speedy free-agent outfielder would be a solid fit for the Jays as a fourth outfielder – he’d be a tremendous pinch-runner, solid defensive replacement and a not-unreasonable lefty bat off the bench.  I can’t remember the last time the Jays had that kind of speed on the bench – Tom Lawless, maybe?

But, the report’s not true.  LaCava did say that the Jays would love to have Gathright, but nothing is done and there are still a few teams to which he’s talking.  Gathright hasn’t been much of a hitter in his big-league career, with no platoon advantages (.626 career OPS vs. lefties, .631 vs. righties) and no power at all to speak of.  He’s played 445 games in the big leagues and on September 16, 2006, hit a two-run homer off of Joel Pineiro in Kansas City.  That would be his one.

Again, he’d be a good 4th outfielder and pair of legs off the bench, and I expect that the Jays will likely be able to reel him in.

On the Roy Halladay front, there’s been no news today – especially with the G.M. gone.  As I said yesterday, it feels to me as though the Angels are now the frontrunners, though their rumoured offer of Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos falls a slugging Italian catcher short, if you ask me.  There’s a story floating around that the Phillies might be willing to include Cole Hamels in their offer for Halladay.  The 2008 World Series MVP is under contract through the 2011 season and under control for another year after that – he’d definitely make Anthopoulos sit up and take notice.

It seems as though the Red Sox are going to deal Mike Lowell and cash to Texas for young catcher Max Ramirez (who they got from Cleveland a couple of years ago in a Kenny Lofton trade).  The deal would open up room for them to sign Adrian Beltre to take over at third and give us in Toronto more opportunities to watch the man most call the best defensive third baseman in the game work his magic.  The Rays are going to get Rafael Soriano from the Braves and the Astros have just signed Pedro Feliz – maybe moving to THAT hitter-friendly ballpark will help.

For what seemed like a very quiet Winter Meetings, we wound up with seven trades involving players like Curtis Granderson, Kevin Millwood and The Boofinator (second best Boof ever), and 21 free agents signings – the biggest being Randy Wolf’s three-year deal worth almost $30 million.

I leave Indianapolis tonight thinking that before Chanukah is over (teh first light gets lit tomorrow night!), we’ll see the Blue Jays make multiple changes – but it’s just a feeling.  The next big day should be Saturday’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.  Jose Bautista has reason to be wary – but of course, he did last year, too.

I’ll probably get in and answer the comments later this afternoon – keep ‘em coming, rationally and reasonably!

49 Responses to “Not With A Bang, But With a Zech”
  1. 1.

    Is there another way to vote for Tom instead of Facebook? What happens to last year’s website.
    I do not use facebook etc.

    MW: There’s no other way to vote, so sign up – and get all your friends who are on Facebook voting!

    - David Hui
  2. 2.

    Mike, how could you possibly like a move for Joey Gathright. His career OPS is ridiculous.

    Mike McCoy, on the other hand looks to be a much better baseball player. He offers almost as much speed, great OBP and can play multiple positions.

    I really wish they had given him a shot at backup SS/IF/PR (OF?)

    Hopefully the Jays sign somebody good that is non-tendered. Anybody you would be looking out for?

    MW: A catcher like a Dioner Navarro or a Kelly Shoppach, an outfielder like a Ryan Church, Conor Jackson, Jeremy Hermida or Jack Cust, a post-hype guy like Andy Marte or a former-college-teammate-of-Aaron Hill’s like Mike Fontenot. As for the McCoy/Gathright comparisons – McCoy might have a shot at being something, but other than putting up great on-base numbers in the PCL, what’s he done? Do you know how well he plays those multiple positions, or just that he plays them?

    - andy mc
  3. 3.

    I like the notion of acquiring a guy like Gathright with exceptional upside–speed–coming off the bench. I’d also like to see Bautista brought back to add to the bench because of his exceptional defence, athleticism, and power bat at the close of last season. Both of these players should give a just or better return on the value they’ll command.

    MW: Bautista is arbitration-eligible and made $2.4 million last year. You think he’ll provide more value than the $3 million he’d likely get in arbitration? Also, I don’t see any upside in Gathright – he’s reached his ceiling, no?

    - Will, Oshawa
  4. 4.

    Hey Mike,

    It sounds like at least progress was made. I like th Angels deal. If Aybar joins and you package up A Gon and Overbay for a Catcher and Outfielder we could be cooking with gas. Does that not mean an infield of excellent controllable players…i.e. Lind at 1B, Hill at 2B, Aybar at SS, E5 at 3B, solid catcher. It’s not looking too bad! Just need an outfielder and solidify the pitching.

    Big wish list but if AA starts pulling the triggers on this stuff maybe some of it can be filled!

    MW: I think that triggers will be pulled at some point this month, but I don’t think you can get a starting catcher and outfielder for Overbay and Gonzalez.

    - Chris Baker
  5. 5.

    So one day you may get the chance to write about Zech saving a win for Zep ! If we could only find a way then to resign Zaun.

    Cole Hamels and Jesus M aside, I am thinking the Angels are the best partner for a Doc deal as long as it includes Aybar and Napoli (and a pitcher of course). Napoli would settle the catcher situation for now and I really like the though of Aybar’s speed at the top of the order. It’s one thing to replace Scoot’s OBP with someone like Bautista, but it would add a whole new dimension to have a speed threat at the top of the order.

    I can’t see Doc in the NL actually as I don’t think he wants to hit, or get double-switched out of games in the 7th.

    - TouchemallJoe
  6. 6.

    Mike the more and more I think about it I just can’t believe the Mcdonald signing. I don’t think he should even be on the team how on earth did they just give him a two year deal? what leverage did he have to demand a two year deal?

    MW: The people who are upset with the McDonald signing are going to have to explain why. He’s being paid an insignificant amount of money on a team that doesn’t have a true salary ceiling against which they’re bumping up, and whose development is he stifling by being on the team?

    - Dan
  7. 7.

    Hey Mike,

    With the rumours that the Phillies are back in the Halladay picture, just wanted to ask your take on J.A. Happ, from what you know of him. The general perception is that he had a very lucky 2009, and doesn’t project higher than a back-of-rotation starter, but I don’t see why that is. He had very good numbers for the most part through the minors, a great ERA in 2009 in a relatively tough division, and even looking at FIP, his was around 4.15 last year, which isn’t bad at all for a rookie pitcher. From the one full game I saw him start, he absolutely shut down the Jays too, for what that’s worth. I realize he’s 26/27, so he may not have huge upside over what we saw last year, but that’s the only real negative that I can see with him, from a pure numbers standpoint. Anyways, what’s your take?

    Thanks a lot!

    MW: I like Happ, but I prefer Kyle Drabek.

    - Bret
  8. 8.

    If Jack Cust really is non-tendered a platoon of he and Jose Bautista would be incredible offensively in the OF.

    If this team really does have all this money available to them, it’s frustrating for them to dump a guy like Bautista while handing out $1.5M for John McDonald (as great a guy as he is) to pinch run. I’m not saying they need to sign Matt Holliday, I’m saying they should be concerned with fielding a semi-competitive team rather than cost-cutting at every single corner. With his glove, his on-base skills, and his .900+ OPS vs LHP last year there’s no doubt in my mind that his value would far exceed the roughly $3M he’d get through arb.

    MW: I can’t imagine a guy like Jose Bautista would cost anywhere close to $3 million on the open market, which is why I said the Jays would likely non-tender him. I didn’t know about the come-back-at-the-same-salary deal that they had worked out. Cust has hit lefties in the past (or at least has walked and hit for power against them), so he wouldn’t necessarily need a platoon partner.

    - karim
  9. 9.

    Hello Mike,

    well done by the Blue Jays to aquire young fireballer Zech Zinicola in the rule 5 draft. Hopefully he does really well in spring and gets a job in the bullpen next season. I also agree with you on it makes sense for him to be a #7 starter for a year to develop. What will the bullpen look like next year. I think it should be like this.

    1. Frasor (CP)
    2. Downs
    3 Carlsson
    4 League
    5 Tallet
    6 Roenicke
    7 Zinicola

    This would be a great bullpen but LEague would have to earn his spot because of his collapse at the end of September. Even the back to back wild pitches to end the season. What will your bullpen look like?

    Lastely, I like Gathright and his speed. H is a pure base stealer with unbelivable quickness. He would be fantastic for the #4 outfielder behind Lind,Snider and Wells. I also think that the he would be a great pinch runner and he can be used in emergency situations alot next year at the end of the game. And what do you think Zech Zinicola will accomplish in Spring Training.

    MW: I didn’t say I thought Zinicola should be the #7 starter (you only use five), but that he’d be fine to be the 7th guy in the bullpen/12th pitcher on the staff. I also didn’t know Jason Frasor worked for the Canadian Press. Your bullpen doesn’t include Accardo – mine would, with two spots left over which Tallet/Roenicke/League/Zinicola would fight.

    - Dave
  10. 10.

    Hey Mike the biggest and most exciting news I have heard from the Jays stand point so far is…… Buck Martinez will be back. I sound sarcastc but I am not I am truly excited to have Buck back, he is someone that I always enjoyed broadcasting Jays games. Plus I wouldn’t mind seeing him get another chance behind the bench since I don’t think he was really given much of a chance by J.P.

    MW: There’s no bench for the manager to stand behind in baseball. I think that bringing Buck back as part of the broadcast is going to make a lot of fans happy, which is great. I’m just surprised he wants to do play-by-play.

    - Adam
  11. 11.

    Hi Mike!

    What are your thoughts on Buck Martinez joining Rogers Sportsnet to do play-by-play for the Jays games next season?

    What happened to Jamie Campbell? I thought there was nothing wrong with his work.

    MW: See above. As for Jamie, he’s been replaced. I can’t comment on the quality of his work because I never heard him – I have to listen to the radio broadcast.

    - Cam
  12. 12.

    Gathright would definitely fill the position of designated pinch runner better than John McDonald.

    MW: Absolutely.

    - scott
  13. 13.

    Mike….
    a) Wouldn’t you think the Red Sox would go after another position besides a catcher in the potential Lowell trade? Victor Martinez seems a lock there for a while.
    b) Any chance down the road of having a live chat in the evening so us 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. guys who aren’t sitting next to a computer can contribute? But hey, I’m only one small voice.

    MW: A – Vic may be better suited to come out from behind the plate long-term. B – You never know.

    - chris m.
  14. 14.

    Would much prefer Buck Coates as 4thOF. What more does the guy have to do to make this team?

    MW: Not play for Kansas City, for one thing.

    - Neil
  15. 15.

    Buck is Back!!! Buck is Back!!

    no matter how bad the product on the field might be this year, There is a reason to watch on TV again…

    Now if they could only find a reason for me to attend games.

    1-New Stadium
    2-Let Me drink my beer outa the Can
    2-Someone who is worth the price of admission reghardless of wins or loses,
    with Halliday gone the most exciting thing will likely be to watch JMac’s D or Maybe Snider Hit.
    Love Hill & Lind Stats but neither are overly exciting to watch.

    - Matt
  16. 16.

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for all the bloggage during the winter meetings. Keep up the great work.

    I have a feeling that Bautista won’t get non-tendered. The reason I have this feeling is because of Cito’s comment about him possibly leading off next year (which, ya know, is nuts). Is this just another case of Cito being Cito (out to lunch) or do you think Cito actually put in a good word for Bautista and wants him back?

    MW: Cito also mentioned a few times that Bautista was a free agent. Bautista had a .349 on-base last year, which is close to the team lead in the absence of Scutaro, so it’s not out to lunch to suggest that he’s the best fit for lead-off right now. I’d put Overbay there, but that’s just me.

    - Scott B
  17. 17.

    Always been a big fan of how Juan Pierre plays. Good outfielder with speed, and seems to work his way on the base paths one way or another. I would like to see him in left or center right beside Wells and Snyder. Do not know off hand what he’s making $$$ but could definately watch him play for the Jays. Any Thought?

    MW: He’s making $9 million a year, which is about $8 million too much. What’s the difference between Pierre and Joey Gathright, other than Gathright can actually throw a baseball? And what does “seems to work his way on the base paths” mean? This year was the first since 2004 that Pierre had an OBP over .330.

    - Derek Daniel
  18. 18.

    I like the potential Gathright pick up. I don’t think he’s an everyday player, but I love his speed and would be a perfect pinch runner off the bench. I remember in late June/early July the Jays lost a lot of 1 run games, having a guy like this who can come off the bench and steal a base or two will definitely help on that front.

    - Pramit
  19. 19.

    Sorry Mike but the way you wrote… “hardly ‘some guy’” made it unclear as to what you really thought of Jauque Doucet. You could have put “hardly just some guy”. I guess you’re going to have to forgive me if I don’t know every baseball person as well as you. Don’t take it as an insult on someone if I’ve never heard of them.

    MW: It’s not an insult for you to never have heard of someone, but to refer to him as “some guy named….” shows a real lack of respect.

    - Matt in BC
  20. 20.

    Michael,

    Are you surprised at the demand for Adrian Beltre, a sometimes healthy, career .779 OPS player?

    I know he is good with the glove but he’s going to make more than 12 million (the arbitration number he turned down) per with a multi-year contract.

    MW: I would hope that he’s not. He might, though. It’s pretty amazing for a guy who has had one good year with the bat.

    - Uncle Ben
  21. 21.

    With all due respect to ZZ, Joey Gathright and Buck Martinez, until the Blue Jays demonstrate a willingness to spend money, I won’t be buying anything AA is selling.

    MW: OK.

    - Alex
  22. 22.

    I’ll take Teen Wolf’s girlfriend over Bonser any day. That includes baseballically.

    MW: She can play?

    - Peter Gentleman
  23. 23.

    I’m going to make a case for Jason Bay even though I know it won’t happen.

    One year ago the Jays were willing to re-sign A.J Burnett for 5 years/$65-75 mil. This year that happens to be about the same amount that Jason Bay is looking is looking to receive. So I would ask, who would you rather have for that range of money?

    I think the answer is pretty obviously Jason Bay. Even if you are rebuilding next year you would still have him for 2011-2014 and the DH is available for him to play if his defense declines even more.

    Getting him would take one more big name free agent off the board so that people come calling for Doc even more aggressivly, and if you aren’t satisfied with the offers you could always start next season with a back-up plan of trying to compete right away and dealing Doc at the deadline (he’ll definitely waive his no trade to win a championship, he just doesn’t want the circus of last year again).

    MW: It’s not going to happen.

    - scott
  24. 24.

    Mike:

    Wasn’t the last speedy-track star guy the current GM of the Chicago White Sox?

    MW: Could be.

    - JB
  25. 25.

    michael,
    i don’t know about you but i for one do find it somewhat surprising/perplexing that since last july it’s been this challenging to trade away a pitcher with the tremendous quality that halladay clearly possesses.
    i’m sure a deal will eventually get done here but man, for perhaps the best starting pitcher in mlb it sure doesn’t seem like the jays have been demanding an ungodly return for the guy either last summer when teams could have had the guy for 2 potential playoff runs & a full season (and all for a very modest salary relative to many others in the game)
    and these possible offers being reported this week… nothing too outrageous sounding to me from the jays request side of things.
    i don’t know.
    we know it’s certainly not a case of us overvaluing or overestimating the guy & his production quotient & talent. everyone in baseball knows he’s unconditionally the real deal.
    puzzling i gotta say…..

    MW: The challenge isn’t in the trading away of the superstar – if the Jays had wanted to, they could easily have traded Halladay in July, or over the course of the last month and a half. The challenge is in getting the right package, and by taking their time, the Jays wound up doing better than the Twins did for Johan Santana and better than the Indians did for CC Sabathia.

    - darrell bishop
  26. 26.

    Mike….My son is helping out in the voting for Tom Cheek..He was born exactly a month before “Touch ‘em all Joe” and almost jumped out of his crib (slight hyperbole there) when we all screamed when Joe’s ball cleared Pete Incaviglia and the fence. I told him one of his first good scares was his family responding to Joe Carter and Tom’s great call….Fantastic memories and it’s still very sad realizing Tom’s no longer with us.

    - chris m.
  27. 27.

    I like Gathright and Bautista
    because these are players that would serve some purpose coming off the bench; Gathright as a pinch runner or defensive replacement and Bautista as a pinch hitter with power or a decent replacement if a starter at 3rd, 1st or the outfield is on the DL. Either way they would still be significant upgrades on the Millars, Delluccis and Ingletts of the recent past.

    MW: Without question they’re significant upgrades on Millar and Dellucci.

    - Will, Oshawa
  28. 28.

    Got buddies from here to Bean Town voting for TC! This will be his turn to get in!

    I have a hard time believing Doc would give the nod to going to Texas. The only reason being how he works up such a sweat during games in places where it’s not nearly as hot during the season. I can’t see him being as effective in Texas as say in Philly for example.

    Nice work Mr. Wilner on the blog. Your keeping us better informed than most beat writers of the goings on.

    Thank you.

    MW: Thanks!

    - Bob (from Burlington)
  29. 29.

    Mike,

    What are your thoughts on this trade idea:

    Jays: Phil Hughes, Jesus Montero, Starlin Castro, Milton Bradley

    Yankees: Roy Halladay

    Cubs: Prospect from the Yankees and Scott Downs

    What makes it work it work from the Cubs perspective is that we would eat all of Bradley’s contract. It would suck to give Halladay to the Yankees, but getting a pitcher with huge potential (Hughes), a young player compared to Pujols (Montero), a young stud SS (Castro), and someone who MIGHT succeed under Cito (Bradley) I think it could work out great for everyone involved.

    MW: I don’t think the Cubs would have gone for it.

    - Chris
  30. 30.

    Hi Mike:

    Any chance of a return for Delgado…possibly to hit his 500th HR with the Jays, plus they could use a DH, keeping LIND in the outfield with WELLS and SNYDER makes for adecent outfield at least offensively. not a big fan of AYBAR – just because of the terrible play against the Ynakees in the Post Season, I would rather have Johnny Mac and Halladay for one more year….. Would the Phillies deal include Haap still if they give the Jays Hammels? Thanks for the Updates…BTW All the moves that you hoped would happen for the Jays with Figgans, Bay, Hardy, worked in Play Station as I tried them and the Jays won the World Series in 2011.

    MW: I knew they’d work! There’s not much of a chance for a Delgado return, the Jays are well covered at first base and DH.

    - Darryl
  31. 31.

    Have been voting for Tom as he was one of the best I’ve heard over the past 50 or so years.Other worthies on the list are Canadians Jack Graney(you remember him with partner Jim Dudley doing the Indians’ games in the 50′s) and Don Chevrier. A little surprising that the Scooter and Herb (One-Eye) Score (thanks to a Gil MacDougall line drive)have not made it.

    MW: I thought Phil Rizzuto was in, actually. And do I remember Jack Graney doing Indians games in the 50s? How old do you think I am?

    - Carlos
  32. 32.

    So far double A and Beaston doing nohing. why didn’t we try to sign Harden, or Putz or Feliz. All the other teams are doing something,while we do nothing. And I’m not even talking big stars. Please don’t tell us you are trying to improve the team. Wait till you see next year’s crowds. I think you should hire a few more scouts!A fan who is fed up.

    MW: Putz or Feliz? Are you serious?

    - Angelo
  33. 33.

    Perhaps Alex left because he didn’t want to answer how Fabio Castro slipped away and signed with the Redsox.

    MW: Yeah, that was the big issue.

    - tomas
  34. 34.

    Mikey,

    Ryan Church a good option for one of the Jays’ open outfield positions? What’s a contract look like for him as opposed to Gathright/Thames?

    Geoff

    MW: I like Church a lot, but he won’t sign a minor-league deal like Gathright did. I’m not interested in Thames, not sure what he brings to the table that Bautista doesn’t.

    - Geoff
  35. 35.

    Joey Gathright? Ahh No! Don’t understand that one? Can you give me your opinion on Kelly Johnson. If the Jays acquire a good shortstop in a Halladay deal they will likely have to move Gonzalez. But what about Kelly Johnson? The Braves aren’t going to bring him back and I think the Jays should bring him in to play 2nd base and move Hill to short. I don’t know what happened to Johnson last year but if a change of scenery canbring him back to his 2007 and 2008 form, the Jays would have a very good hitting middle infield.

    MW: Johnson is OK, but not special enough to make me want to move Hill to short.

    - Domenick
  36. 36.

    With all the talk of the Yankees non-tendering Wang do you think his career is over or would he a good pick up for the Jays not that far removed from being a more than cromulent innings eater?

    MW: I’d like to see the Jays take a chance on Wang, definitely. It’s a great, cheap gamble.

    - Andrew
  37. 37.

    Why do you think they non-tendered Chavez? That means they’re looking for two new catchers now, and Chavez has worked with the young kids a little. It would appear to me an obvious move to retain one of the catchers from last year because the new rotation will need a lot of help and familiarity with the catcher would be a start in that direction. I’m assuming thought has gone into this move, so does this mean that the next announcement will be that the Jays are trading Halladay to the Angels for a package containing Napoli? Even if that were true, the team would need a back-up catcher…

    MW: As you now know, they’d agreed with Chavez that he’d come back on a minor-league deal to be the back-up to John Buck.

    - isabella reyes
  38. 38.

    Hi Mike,

    Who, if any of the following players do you envision the Blue Jays being interested in?

    Chien Ming Wang
    Jack Cust
    Matt Capps
    Kelly Johnson
    John Buck
    Adam Miller
    Ryan Church
    Garrett Atkins

    Thanks

    MW: Buck for sure, since they’ve already signed him, but I would also hope they’d have interest in Church, Cust and Wang. Miller went back to Cleveland.

    - Sean
  39. 39.

    Mike,
    Now that Chien-Ming Wang is a free agent, do you think the Jays would be interested in picking him up for a low risk incentive laid deal? I would think his past success in 06 and 07 would be a selling point. He could be another Chirs Carpenter…
    Thanks.

    MW: He couldn’t be another Chris Carpenter.

    - Peter
  40. 40.

    Even though Weaver is better than Saunders, I’d be willing to take Saunders because of Weaver’s agent – super-agent Scott Boras.

    Why, you ask, base decisions on player’s agents? The Jays did it 7 years in a row in the draft.

    MW: Dealing with a player you’re trying to sign and a player who is already under contract is very different.

    - scott
  41. 41.

    Hey Mike,

    Can you give us fans an update on the injured players such as Wellsy, McGowan, Marcum, Litsch and whoever I forgot to mention.

    Thanks alot man!

    - Brent

    MW: Wellsy? Marcum is fine and will probably be the Opening Day starter. Litsch won’t be back until at least May, probably shouldn’t pitch in the bigs until the all-star break, and likely won’t “be himself again” until 2011. McGowan, who knows? If he pitches again, it’s a bonus.

    - Brent from Sarnia
  42. 42.

    Mike,

    I don’t understand the move to sign Buck to a 1 yr $2mil contract. Alex says he wants defense (see A.Gon and Johnny Mac) but he signs a Catcher who is below average defensively. Why didn’t they sign Zaun instead for about the same money? Buck is not as quick and good at blocking balls in the dirt or the plate on relays as Zaun. And offensively, while Buck does have more power than Zaun (at a cost of striking out far more), his OPS is not quite as high.

    With the re-signing of Bautista, the positive is that they kills 2 birds with one stone in terms of his ability to play 3B and the OF. I thought Kelly Johnson and Gabe Gross would be nice bench players to have instead of Bautista at around the same money (combined). I’m just not sure a team which is not likely to be competitive in 2010 should have a $2.4mil career avg .238/.738 OPS utility/bench player.

    MW: Buck is almost 10 years younger than Zaun (which is, like, 40 in catcher years) and could have a future.

    - Joachim
  43. 43.

    Hey Mike,

    So glad the Jays kept Chavez in the fold as he was a stunning defensive catcher and he even hit a few of those balls people said he wouldn’t hit.

    Whats your take on Buck though ? 2 mil for one year is solid – and it could have been worse, we could have been the ones to give Jason Kendal 6 mil.

    What i was actually wondering about is when you think Overbay will go ? Im thinking it may take the major free agent 1b (Johnson,Laroche, Delgado?) to sign before AA can deal Overbay.

    Thanks Mike, Happy Holidays

    MW: I don’t know where, or even if, Overbay will go, but I know that the Jays would like to get value back for him. Buck is a reasonable placeholder behind the plate, I think.

    - Dave
  44. 44.

    Mike, Although the rumoured deal with the Angels may be their best option, I can’t see Halladay agreeing to it. The Angels may not be the favourite to win the AL West. Personally, I can only see him agreeing to a deal with the Yankees, RedSox or Phillies. Not a very big window for for AA. This can only turn out badly for the Jays. We may see many mor 11000 crowds, if they make a bad trade.

    MW: It can ONLY turn out badly? Sheesh.

    - Brian
  45. 45.

    Hi Mike
    What has happened to Michael Barrett?
    I haven’t heard anything about him and with the catcher signings it seems he is no longer in the picture.

    MW: He’s not – he’s a free agent.

    - Richard from AR
  46. 46.

    Not exactly Blue Jays related, but why do the Rangers want Mike Lowell if they have Michael Young and Elvis Andrus?
    I there something I’m missing?

    Thx.

    MW: Lowell will split time between first base and DH in Texas.

    - Greg W
  47. 47.

    The infrequency of your blog updates makes it almost useless to a Jays fan.

    Seriously, if you’re going to have a blog, why don’t you actually make some postings to keep it relevant?

    MW: Thanks for coming by and reading!

    - Gary
  48. 48.

    Bruce Drennan out of Cleveland was reporting earlier that the Jays were about to sign Marcus Thames and having him play first base. If that’s true, do you suppose Overbay could be headed to Seatlle as part of this rumoured 3 team trade between the Jays, M’s and Phils?

    MW: I can’t imagine they’d sign Thames to play first base.

    - Jim in Ohio
  49. 49.

    Michael,

    Now that Boston has added John Lackie do you think the NYY will feel the need to respond?

    Do you think they might end up with Jason Bay given they just lost Matsui?

    MW: The Yankees and Red Sox always feel the need to respond to each other. I don’t think they’ll go after Bay, given that they got Curtis Granderson, but they definitely could.

    - Uncle Ben
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