4:55 PM Eastern

It appears as though the Blue Jays’ efforts to sign Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman have fallen short, with the story this afternoon that Chapman will sign with the Cincinnati Reds – a deal that could be worth as much as $25 million and could lock up the youngish lefty for as long as six years.

I’m thinking that amount would probably go beyond what the Blue Jays believed to be “within reason” though the term, if it’s that long, would mitigate the cost quite a bit.  We’re still in the rumour stage, but several Cincinnati sources say they’ve confirmed that Aroldis is a Red.

There’s good news and bad news here.  The bad news is that the Jays lost out on a guy who may well turn out to be an elite-level, front-of-the-rotation pitcher.  The good news is that the Jays were likely one of the three finalists for Chapman’s services.

It’s funny – J.P. Ricciardi often got criticized for saying that the Jays weren’t in on any free agents.  It seemed the fans just wanted him to say that they were (even if they weren’t), and then when the player signed elsewhere, they’d  take solace in the fact at least the Jays had been in there slugging. That’s what happened here – though they were actually in it.  The Jays missed, but by being in the running, they’ve shown the fans that they’re willing to spend significant money to improve if the planets are sufficiently aligned.

It doesn’t mean they’re going to throw $25 million at a Jon Garland-type to lock him up for the next three years, but it does mean that if there’s a special talent who is young, who can be controlled for a while, and whose only cost is money, then the Blue Jays will get involved.  This augurs well for the Jays’ re-entry into Latin America, and maybe even for a serious entry into the Pacific Rim (with apologies to Ken Takahashi).

Should the Jays have coughed up the extra $5 million or so that could have locked Chapman up?

Well, firstly, that assumes that money was not only the main factor in signing Chapman, but that he was going to the highest bidder regardless.  That may be the case, but it may not.

But let’s say cash was king – ought the Blue Jays to have ponied up?  The Jays saved a grand total of 25.7 million 2010 payroll dollars simply by divesting themselves of Roy Halladay, Alex Rios and Scott Rolen.  Kick in another couple million and get Chapman?  If I was convinced of his talent, I probably do that.  On a six-year deal, though, he wouldn’t necessarily pay for himself, depending on how quickly he got to the big leagues.  I know the Jays see Chapman as someone who is very, very raw but who is a very, very special talent.

Is he really 22?  Or he is 26?  28?  It’s impossible to know.  There is plenty of suspicion that he’s older than he claims to be, and unless you cut him in half and count the rings, there’s really no way to know.

If it comes down to a yes or no, would I have made sure I was the highest bidder if I was Alex Anthopoulos?  Honestly, I don’t know.  If I thought I was going to sign a guy for about $21 million, would I let myself be pushed to $26 million?  That’s about 25% more than I was originally willing to pay, and that’s pushing it, at the very least.  Given the Jays’ seeming abundance of young pitching, I’d likely have said no, too.  But it’s still a terrific gamble for the Reds to take, and it means that while there’s now one thing off AA’s front burner, there are still plenty more burners a-burnin’.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

71 Responses to “Close, But No Cuban”
  1. 1.

    Cardinal rule of going into an auction: never go above the limit you’ve already decided. If you go above, even a little bit, something kind of shifts and you end up paying $$$$$$ more than you intended.

    I’m not sure if I’m sad the Jays lost a potential superstar or happy they may have dodged a bullet. Chapman could be the next Randy Johnson but on the other hand he might be the next BJ Ryan–flame-throwing flame-out. I guess we’ll find out. And at least he’s not pitching in the AL.

    They’ve shown they have money to spend and are willing to spend it. Whether that’s enough to mollify the fans or not, it has at least sent some kind of message to the agents.

    I think, everything considered I’m happy with the way this went and impressed so far with AA’s comportment as GM.

    - isabella reyes
  2. 2.

    Re Edgar Martinez’s HOF credentials:

    There’s no disputing he was a solid and consistent hitter, BUT he was – if I remember correctly – never confused with Brooks Robinson when he played third base. He had little speed, and not a great amount of power.

    The debate about his HOF suitability seems primarily a product of the following variables:

    1) he played his entire carreer for one team, unlike the usual peripatetic DHS
    2) his name isn’t tarred by steroids rumours
    3) he is the first more or less full-time DH who is at least worthy of discussion, and that makes him essentially the current touchstone as to whether ANY DH should be in the HOF

    In my view, for someone who didn’t contribute at all defensively, and little on the bases, his offensive productivity (and hence value) was simply not formidable enough…

    Know you disagree of course, but appreciate the forum you provide for baseball discussion

    MW: I appreciate that you appreciate that. He’s the only player in history with a career line better than .300/.400/.500 who isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

    - Ken
  3. 3.

    Yu Darvish might be a better option then Chapman..However, he hasn’t shown any interest thus far in moving to MLB..I suppose both him and his team would get big money, perhaps similar to the Dice K signing..Or is he that good?

    Will this signing open the door for Alfredo Despaigne?..He is considered one of the best ball players not playing in the USA..Maybe he is the next Jose Canseco minus the juice or perhaps Rey Ordonez, one of the most over hyped Cubans of all time..

    Being a brides maid isn’t something to be happy about..After all this guy signed for the Reds..Not exactly the promised land..This team hasn’t even had a .500 record in almost 10 seasons..No playoffs in what 15 years?..This team plays in the NL Central division even..Ouch..

    Imagine the blogs with all the disgruntled fans in that city? You have it easy here Mike

    MW: Well, the Reds played one-game playoffs in 1999 and 200, at least. Being a bridesmaid isn’t something to be happy about, but it’s better than not being invited to the wedding at all.

    - ray b
  4. 4.

    …Well at least the Red Sox and Yankees didn’t get him.

    Still though, getting bested by Walt Jockety is really frustrating after JP fleeced him last July.

    - McLovin
  5. 5.

    Excellent point about McGwire hitting his 49 homeruns when he was a 190 pounder. I remember it like yesterday because my second favourite player of all time won the MVP that year and my favourite player of all time has broken alot of his team records and I would love if they signed him for a couple of years until Brett Wallace was ready. I guess you didn’t like my 2010 player projections for the Blue Jays. It’s fun to make projections and just see how far off you end up being. My 2009 Aaron Hill projections probably would have been .285AVG .330OBP 11HR .700 OPS. I never thought he would have hit with so much power. I don’t imagine that you will make any projections. I wouldn’t if I were you since it’s impossible to predict and being a public figure and having to deal with a city of second guessers would be extremely unfair. I didn’t predict an onbase percentage of under .300 for Vernon Wells to be a jerk. I actually see a rapidly declining ball player. I know you disagree and I really want you to be right. Wells appears to be a very nice man and I wish him nothing but a great comeback season. I hope he wins comeback player of the year like Hill and Carpenter. I’m hoping that he will not be compared to the currently rapidly declining Alex Rios, Andruw Jones or past guys like Derek Bell. Geez. Maybe I shouldn’t submit this. Okay. Last negative comment on Vernon Wells until at least June. It would be appreciated if you could comment on the status of McGowan, Marcum and Litsch. Thanks.

    MW: Their statuses haven’t really changed. Marcum should be ready to start the season, Litsch should be ready to pitch by the all-star break, McGowan, who knows?

    - Domenick
  6. 6.

    Hi Mike, great analysis yet again. We probably won’t know for many years whether Chapman is the real deal. I hope we can look back on this with a sigh of relief but who really knows. If it takes Chapman a couple years to establish himself, then the real annual value of the contract is that much more.

    Apparently the Reds’ contract includes a sixth year as a player option, which I suppose is even worse than a guaranteed 6 years. Assuming most of the next year is spent in the minors, that means that he could walk after four years of major league service. If that’s the case, does that mean that the Reds would have agreed to go against the MLB norm and allow Chapman to hit free agency earlier than the standard for a player with that many years of service?

    MW: No, it means that Chapman will have the option to extend the contract for a sixth year rather than go to arbitration.

    - Chris
  7. 7.

    it would have taken just over 5 million a year to get this guy, I hope the jays were serious about it. or were they in the runing for p.r reasons, because cash was king in chapmans world.the reds were not even talked about on any blogs. mike please tell me were not going to give garland 23 ,million over 3 years tell me its not so please.

    MW: There’s no chance. Why would they do that?

    - jays fan from the start
  8. 8.

    “…cut him in half and count the rings…”

    :D

    Funny stuff!

    - Fred
  9. 9.

    Hey Mike, great blog as always, but I’ve seen Chapman’s stats over his playing time that has been recorded, and I believe that it’s not really worth it to sign this guy. Sure he has talent, but to sign him for 30 million? That does seem a bit much for a pitcher with a 5.00+ E.R.A. in the WB Classic. Did you think that gamble would’ve paid off?

    MW: The answer is in the post on which you’re commenting.

    - Adam
  10. 10.

    MW: On a six-year deal, though, he wouldn’t necessarily pay for himself, depending on how quickly he got to the big leagues.

    I thought you said he would be controllable the same way a draftee would be? Why does it matter how long it takes him to make the MLB? Won’t the Reds still have 6 years of MLB control over him? And isn’t the MLB contract going to pay for 6yrs MLB service?

    It looks like the Reds even have the payments deferred for 10 yrs.

    I’m still confused. Not sure if you have contradicted the explanation you gave me last time. Please explain.

    MW: I’m a little confused, too, because I’m not sure when the contract kicks in. I’m assuming it starts now, so they have to pay him whether he’s in the bigs or not. They still have six years of MLB control.

    - andy mc
  11. 11.

    Geez, I,m glad he brought his phone on his honeymoon. That was a real barnburner of a deal in getting back Zack Jackson,who we traded 4yrs ago, has done nothing,and now we get him back. What a Deal!
    There are a few middle free agents that could help. For what kelvin Escobar signed for I think he would have helped. Guys like Troy Glaus for 1 1/2 million.I know he left fot the field which bothered his legs but there are some players like that that can replace Bautista,and Encarnacion. Would Orlando Hudson at short or third have been a good aqusition.Hudson and Glaus rotating days.Glaus put up good hitting and fielding numbers. I’m sure that would be better than Bautista and Encarnacion or Sanchez at short. You don’t have to get superstars, there are good middle of the road players available. Instead Double A is going after real no names and waiver wire players. This team will be like a triple A team which is all right if you are in the triple A.league.We are supposed to be a major league team, but being run as a minor league operation.Can’t wait to read about this week’s blockbuster.Maybe you will discover a can’t miss Hawaian pitcher,catcher or hitter while checking out the pineapples at the Dole plantation. You never know.

    MW: Encarnacion or Sanchez at shortstop?

    - Angelo
  12. 12.

    Hi Mike,

    I actually found myself relieved that the Jays didn’t get Chapman. The guy is a raw lefty who hadn’t really pitched effectively at any level in Cuba. Left handed fireballers take time to develop. Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Al Leiter came into their own between the ages of 25 and 30. I wish Cincinatti good luck, but note with interest that the Yanks, a team with money, didn’t really show an interest. They probably figure, why pay Chapman $30 million to go to school and learn how to pitch,
    we’d rather wait around until he graduates. Even if Chapman pans out, the Reds may be paying $30 million for one good season. After that, he’s gone to a first division team.

    - steve
  13. 13.

    Mike,

    Do you think the Jays still need some help in the outfeild, specifically right feild? I know they have Jose Bautista who did ok out there but I would like to see them take a chance on a guy like Rick Ankiel what are you thoughts?

    MW: I would like to see them give left field to Adam Lind and right field to Travis Snider and see what happens.

    - Denny
  14. 14.

    I did not hear that Alomar had Aids. I was trying to see when he retired, and in doing so, the last team he was with, could not understand what was wrong. Someone mentioned it could be his eyesight.
    I don’t listen to stupid rumours.

    MW: It was more than a stupid rumour, it was a whole lawsuit.

    - Barb
  15. 15.

    My first thought was “the Cincinnati Red???. The REDS???”

    I could understand Miami for the Cuban connection or the Angels to stay in a warm climate. Even the Yankees, Sox etc to have a chance to start your career on a winner.

    But the REDS?? Do they have a Cuban GM or several cuban players in the system?

    The next thought was it had to be money. And the rumour now is that the agreed price is 30M. Not 23, not 25 but 30.

    THAT makes more sense.

    - Gary
  16. 16.

    Greetings Mr. Wilner,

    Last summer the Jays drafted Jake Elipoulis and James Paxton. For various reasons they never signed. Are they able to draft them again this year?

    Thank you.

    MW: Paxton, for sure, if he’s available when the Jays pick. Eliopolous I’m not sure about.

    - Dave from the trailer
  17. 17.

    Hi Mike,

    Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

    A bit off topic here, but you’ve mentioned a table top baseball sim during a few of your post game shows and I really want to get one for my dad and I to play but I can’t seem to find a retailer here in Toronto. Can you suggest a place to get said game?

    Can’t wait for the new season. Go Jays Go!

    MW: Go to http://www.designdepot.com and tell them I sent you.

    - Patrick
  18. 18.

    Mike,

    I would not have signed Chapman. I’m weary of such a situation where you pay a huge signing bonus for a guy who is so raw and unproven. Bidding on Japanese pitchers is different because they have a track record in the Japanese league and is much less of a gamble. If Chapman was 18, then it might be a different story but 5 to 6 years of development for a 22 year old (supposedly) wouldn’t be unreasonable, considering the minors would be his first time in higher level pro ball.

    Also, consider how many Cuban defectors made as huge an impact as has been advertised. The odds aren’t great. And of the lucky ones that have “made” it, they were good serviceable players for a short while, not superstars or perennial all-stars they were always built up to be. The Hernandez half brothers may have been the best examples of highly touted superstars before they defected and once they came to the MLB, they were decent but not as good as they were hyped up to be.

    MW: You’re wary.

    - JT29
  19. 19.

    Hey Mike. I’m glad Big Mac came clean about using steroids. Now I can respect him even though I don’t like what he did. I can’t say the same for A-Fraud! Maybe you agree.

    MW: Alex Rodriguez came just as clean as McGwire did, didn’t he?

    - Matt in BC
  20. 20.

    Wilner,

    Now that McGwire has come clean, how much do you think Larussa knew?

    MW: As much as he wanted to know. LaRussa is a smart guy, I’m sure he was all about plausible deniability back then.

    - Bobby
  21. 21.

    Awesome title for this post. I also like your idea of cutting him open and counting the rings, especially now that he plays for another team than the Jays.

    Have you heard any word from the organization or elsewhere about moving Overbay? After the deal for Chris Snyder came apart, we’ve heard nothing further in terms of rumours on Overbay. (Although the lid on all of those “team sources” seems to be a little tighter these days. In my view this is to AA’s credit, but it probably doesn’t make too many of the media types as happy.)

    MW: It doesn’t, but such is life. The Jays are willing to move Overbay in the right deal, but they’re not looking to give him away. The money on his contract is a sunk cost, and he’ll get them back a sandwich pick next year.

    - mike from ottawa
  22. 22.

    Hi Mike,
    Great read as always. I for one was excited to hear that the Jays were among the teams competing for Chapman. Just as you said, as a fan it’s nice to know they’re willing to pony up the dough if it makes sense.
    Bill

    - Bill
  23. 23.

    Mike

    I did a radio show in university in the 1980s and still listen to new music today (mostly indie), so I won’t engage you in a music discussion because we are very likely to only agree to disagree. Baseball, however, we do agree on many things, and my question is if you feel the Jays have enough position players in the minors, particularly OFs, to compete in 2011-12 timetable and beyond? I don’t see it and thought Taylor would have fit the bill perfectly.

    MW: I don’t think the Jays will be able to compete in 2011-12 strictly based on homegrown talent, no, but that’s what trades and free agency are for.

    - Dan
  24. 24.

    I like the idea of adding a young pitcher with potential.who wouldn’t…but the age thing..remember Junior felix”? ,would have soured me on giving him those big bucks especially aince his record was not all that impressive.

    MW: It was pretty impressive for a 21 year-old.

    - davi998
  25. 25.

    hey mike

    I’m glad that we didn’t sign chapman. He is someone who throws the ball 3 digits. Who was the last pitcher to throw that hard that played in the majors for more than just 3-4 seasons.(other than randy johnson)

    MW: Bobby Jenks? Joel Zumaya?

    - Jason
  26. 26.

    Hey Mike,

    Somewhat disappointed that you haven’t opined bloggishly regarding McGwire’s admission.

    Or perhaps I’m jumping the gun and you’re getting something together.

    I’m the biggest McGwire supporter, but I just don’t feel his Hall of Fame support will jump much next season. Too many players with skeletons still in the closet to make a determination about the steroid era. It would be great for the game if others followed his lead and came clean.

    It would be an absolute kick in the nads if someone like Bagwell or Biggio or Thome was elected to the Hall, and then after the fact makes an admission. That very well could be the next wave of Hall of Famers — guys who may be given a free pass, but who cheated just like everyone else in the era . . .

    MW: It very well could.

    - Ken Pagan
  27. 27.

    Rumors of Delgado being pursued by the Jays… where does he fit in? Replaces Overbay? Bench bat? Full-time DH?

    MW: If he fit in, it would be as the DH.

    - Geoff
  28. 28.

    Not that upset over losing out to Chapman; I don’t agree that it’s a fantastic gamble. For the Yankees, Red Sox, etc… smaller teams like the Reds can’t necessarily afford to make these kinds of gambles. Regardless, glad to see AA involved in acquiring another high-ceiling, long-controllable player.

    Reports out that the Jays are interested in bringing back Delgado. Care to explain the reasoning behind this? Even a incentive-laden low-cost contract, isn’t worth it IMO. Scouts claim he isn’t progressing well at this point. Currently the Jays have a logjam at 1B/DH. We know AA is trying his best to move Overbay but nobody will bite. We know Wallace is the 1B of the future and we will ready within a few months. Jays have Dopirak and Ruiz (neither of which they seem to high on) for added 1B/DH depth. Cito loves Lind as a full-time DH. I assume Gathright, Bautista will share LF or RF and HOPEFULLY not take away at-bats for Snider, again. So what’s the point of Delgado? I don’t want another Millar playing in favour of an elite-level spec. Do you? We have Delgado in Ruiz. Do we not? I just don’t see the sense in the move AT ALL. And let’s be fair.,, bringing back Delgado for a year or two will not put any butts in the seats. This perceived PR/attendance boost is nonsense; it’s in the same vein of “Well get a great Canadian-boy player and fans will show up!” The attendance didn’t rise in games where Halladay was pitching; how exactly will a lumbering retread achieve that?

    MW: No, they don’t have Delgado in Ruiz, not at all. Delgado is a borderline Hall of Famer, Ruiz is a guy who had a terrific 115 at-bats in the majors. Ruiz and Dopirak aren’t part of a log-jam at 1B/DH. There is no log-jam right now, because Lind can play left (though that scares Cito, at the very least). Delgado could have easily fit in as the DH with Lind moving out to left and Snider to right, which would likely be better short term than Lind as the DH and Bautista/Gathright in an outfield corner. The problem comes along when Wallace is ready to come up, but that’s when you deal Overbay, if need be.

    - Renegade
  29. 29.

    Mike…Did you ever have a pro athlete (any sport)that you knew about who lived in your neighbourhood/area when you were growing up? Big John Mayberry used to live around us and we knew he sometimes fancied a submarine sandwich after the game(inside info. from the owner) and we’d often hang out there to see him…great guy and always polite, considering the Jays were only winning 60 games annually back then.

    MW: Nope.

    - chris m.
  30. 30.

    You forgot to mention that Alex Gonzalez is a better defensive SS than JMac (in your response to a question as to why AGonz was signed and will start).

    Why do people refuse to acknowledge certain players’ defensive declines (Vernon, JMac, Overbay)

    People keep saying the Jays need an “innings eater”. Don’t they have a few pitchers that can go 200+ IP in 2010? Richmond, Purcey, Romero?

    MW: Yes, they can. If Gonzalez is better than McDonald defensively, it’s only marginally.

    - andy mc
  31. 31.

    Do you think that maybe OBP+ISO would be a more accurate representation of a player’s offensive contributions, compared to OPS? Doesn’t OPS kind of double-count a bit?(

    MW: OPS double-counts a lot. It’s why I rarely use it (though I do use OPS+). I try to always look at a player’s OBP and SLG separately.

    - Brendan
  32. 32.

    Say it is so Mike. TSN.CA is reporting that the Jays and Mets are scouting Carlos Delgado. Will Alex Anthoupolos throw us Jays fans a bone and bring back arguably the best Blue Jay slugger ever. They can keep Lind in the out field and have Delgado DH everyday.

    MW: It ain’t so.

    - Domenick
  33. 33.

    Hi Mike,

    This is off topic, but I read a comment to a recent Jordan Bastian Inbox in which the writer was complaining that Cito is a really bad manager for young players.

    When I look back to the Cox – Williams – Gaston era, I always thought at that time that Cox was an amazing manager for young developing players, but not for the teams that should win, and that Cito seemed to be the manager for the mature teams.

    Cox’s move to Atlanta in my mind supported this view. He had great clubs, and yes, they got to many playoffs, but they were a team you would have expected to win more World Series.

    Just interested in your thoughts about this idea that certain managers are better for certain types of players and teams…and especially in Cito being right or not for this team.

    I don’t comment much, but want you to know that you are addictive…thanks.

    MW: Thanks. I agree completely with the notion that certain managers are better for certain types of teams, though I disagree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Bobby Cox. I think Cito works very well on a team of veteran stars that can basically run itself, with players who are good enough to overcame his tactical weaknesses.

    - Steve in HH
  34. 34.

    Mike. Do you see the opening day rotation the same way I see it: Romero, Marcum, Cecil, Richmond, Rzepcynski. Agree or disagree? Long-term, is Brandon Morrow a starter or reliever?

    I’m going to make up for my last effort. Here’s an 80′s tune, I have this on vinyl and it reads as follows:

    Open up your mind and let me step inside.
    Rest your weary head and let your heart decide
    It’s so easy when you know the rules
    It’s so easy all you have to do is fall in love.

    Know that one Mike?

    Peter, St.Catharines

    MW: I don’t know that one – I mean, I know the song, but I didn’t get it. I like Queen, but never liked that song. I don’t know what the rotation will be out of spring. I’m sure they’d love to have Morrow in it, but he has options and they might like to season him some more. But maybe not. Purcey is out of options and all the young guys have plenty. I’d like to see Marcum/Morrow/Rzepczynski/Romero/Cecil, but I don’t think it’ll break that way.

    - Peter
  35. 35.

    I think the Jays did well by showing strong interest. I think if our final was 26 he would have gone elsewhere for 28, regardless but as a fan I am happy to see them try.

    One another note, the Jays should resign Reed Johnson not Carlos Delgado. Reed would be a great mentor for the kids and he was well liked here. Good all around peice on any team.

    There are going to be some interesting FA signings late. Hopefully AA is only tempted by value. All kids all the time.

    Cheers

    MW: I’m sure that value is on the top of Alex’s list. There’s no place for Reed Johnson on this team if Jose Bautista is going to play the outfield.

    - jason from thornhill
  36. 36.

    As of now what’s the BJ’s payroll going into 2010?

    MW: I don’t know. Not much. 60?

    - Anthony
  37. 37.

    I am just as glad that the Jays did not sign Chapman.I cannot see spending that kind of money on an unproven player no matter who he is.If they are going to spend another $25 million spend it on proven talent.

    - Paul
  38. 38.

    Mike,

    Bob Elliot has dishonoured you. He listed you as the 98th (out of 100) most influential Canadians in baseball. Considering this fine blog, and your magnanimous Jays Talk, I would have ranked you in the top 20 at least, just after AA, Beeston, Jerry, Gillick, Handsome Tony Viner and the players.

    You are a major voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, the only team in Canada, and actually, “Canada’s Team”.

    Maybe if they started broadcasting Jays games and post games in ALL major markets across Canada, your stock would rise?

    MW: Just being on the list is very nice.

    - Andy Mc
  39. 39.

    Hey Mike,

    I’m a big Jays fan who’s glass is often half full, however even I’m having trouble getting up for the 2010 season. What would help would be the return of King Carlos.

    It would seem Carlos Delgado, if healthy, would still have some gas left in his tank with 38HR and 115 RBI and a .270 ish average in 2008. my question to you: How is his health and how well is he doing in winter ball? do we have a shot at getting Delgado back?

    Help me get to half full …

    B

    MW: Why would Carlos Delgado coming back bring you up to half-full?

    - Brian
  40. 40.

    Mike,

    Would Russell Branyan be a possible fit at DH this season if the Jays plan to put Lind at first?

    MW: They don’t plan to put Lind at first.

    - Ian
  41. 41.

    I think Chapman is a huge gamble for reasons that you cited.

    First, is the age question. If he is actually in his mid-20s, the upside will be much less than if his claimed age is correct. Also, if he is in his mid-20s, his lack of control at that age is a much more serious problem.

    Second, is the question about how unproven and undeveloped the talent is. Sure, he throws hard, but his control is poor. How much will the the radar gun numbers drop in order to get the control necessary to pitch in MLB?

    Finally, I read somewhere the theory that the Cubans allowed him to defect, ostensibly because they know he’s not THAT good.

    I agree that it was nice to see that the Jays were in it until the end. But I applaud them for having a limit on what they would throw at an unproven prospect.

    On the other hand, I would spend a sizable sum to try to convince Yu Darvish to change his mind about never pitching in MLB. I was VERY impressed with the talent on the Japanese and Korean teams at last year’s WBC.

    MW: It would cost at least three times as much to get Darvish as it did to sign Chapman, and they still have to wait for him.

    - Alan the stat geek
  42. 42.

    This situation reminds me of a story described in “The Yankee Years”: Several teams had been scouting Jose Contreras in 2002, soon after Theo Epstein had been named the new Red Sox GM. Although the Red Sox actively courted Contreras and made a significant offer of $23 million, they were outbid by the Yankees at $32 million. Although he was disappointed to lose out on Contreras, especially to the Yanks, Epstein took solace in defeat – the fact that his approach was bold, yet disciplined. He had been determined to set a value for a player, but not get into a free agent bidding war. Hopefully the Chapman experiment is a sign that AA will follow a similarly rational approach.

    - Rich
  43. 43.

    MW: I don’t know that one – I mean, I know the song, but I didn’t get it. I like Queen, but never liked that song. I don’t know what the rotation will be out of spring. I’m sure they’d love to have Morrow in it, but he has options and they might like to season him some more. But maybe not. Purcey is out of options and all the young guys have plenty. I’d like to see Marcum/Morrow/Rzepczynski/Romero/Cecil, but I don’t think it’ll break that way.

    your crazy if you think romero comes after morrow and rzepczynski

    MW: My crazy what?

    - robert
  44. 44.

    Regarding your response to an earlier post, I believe the rule is that the Jays can only re-draft players they didn’t sign the previous year (Paxton et al) if the player signs a consent. What does it say to you that the Jays were apparently bidding at $20M plus for Chapman when a tiny fraction of that would’ve enabled them to sign those picks last summer? Shift in philosophy from JP to AA? New commitment from ownership? They really believed Chapman was that spectacular?

    MW: I haven’t heard that rule, I believe that the Jays can redraft Paxton if he’s available when they pick, plain and simple. What the difference in money says to me is that there’s a difference in situation. Draftees are worth X, free agent are worth Y. The Jays still weren’t willing to move, on a percentage basis, with Chapman the same way they weren’t willing to move with their draft picks.

    - Grant
  45. 45.

    Mike,

    I am thinking of going to Florida for a week to check out Spring Training in March.

    I was wondering where to stay. I haven’t been to Florida since I was a kid. I know that Dunedin is pretty small but very close to Clearwater. Do you know what hotel the majority of the players stay at… or is there one you would recommend? Have you been down for Spring Training, and if so, do you have any tips to maximize the experience? I’ll be renting a car so I don’t really need to be next to the ballpark or anything. Any insight would be wonderful!

    MW: I would recommend staying in Clearwater, in one of the hotels near the intersection of Highways 19 and 60. The players don’t stay in hotels, they tend to stay in condo complexes because they’re down for so long, and often with their families. You could stay on Clearwater Beach, which is really nice, but spring break traffic onto and off of the beach can be horrendous and it’s more expensive to stay out there. Maximize the experience by getting to the park early so you can come down the lines and interact with the players, go to as many games in as many ballparks as you can – the Phillies’ and Yankees’ stadiums are really nice, but you may have trouble getting tickets to see the Yanks.

    - Ryan Hall
  46. 46.

    Mike…
    a) Enjoyed your take on A-Rod’s confession months back…What’s your opinion of McGwire’s?

    b) Some early 80′s lyrics:
    ” Sweet things from Boston
    So youg and willing
    Moved down to Scarsdale
    Where the hell am I”

    MW: A – It’s basically the same. There’s not a chance McGwire was telling the whole truth. The difference is that McGwire ‘fessed up not because he got caught but because he is trying to get ahead of a story that’s a decade old. B – I’m a big fan of The Dan.

    - chris m.
  47. 47.

    I just read this tidbit about Arnsburg from Brian McTaggart at mlb.com:

    “The Blue Jays dismissed general manager J.P. Ricciardi late last season and told the coaching staff it was free to look elsewhere. Arnsberg wanted to stay in Toronto, but understood that nothing was certain. Mills, who was familiar with Arnsberg in his six years as bench coach in Boston, called him to gauge interest.”

    They told the entire coaching staff they could go if they wanted? Arnsburg wanted to stay in TO but didn’t think he’d be asked back? That’s not what I heard at the end of last season…

    MW: What did you hear at the end of last season? Arnie couldn’t have gone to Houston unless the Jays gave him permission to look. Of course they’d try to put a happy face on the whole Cito vs. the coaches thing.

    - isabella reyes
  48. 48.

    1)Do you think the Mets might be interested in acquiring Overbay. They don’t have a lefthanded option at first. (I’m not sure though that they would give up much for him, although the 7M savings would be nice if they use it down the road)
    2) I saw someone mention the idea of Mcgowen being the closer. What do you think, is it possible. He has the stuff and it would not require him to pitch so many innings.

    MW: 1 – I think they’d rather take another shot at Delgado, and like you said, the Mets don’t have much to deal. 2 – It wouldn’t require McGowAn to throw as many innings, but I’m not sure that the up-and-downness and more frequent use out of the bullpen would be good for his arm, either.

    - Steve from NJ
  49. 49.

    hey mike,
    you know i’m sure i’m in the same boat as everyone when i say i cant stand anymore talk about steroids. seems like in those days almost every1 did them. that being said. i was wondering who if any big time jays sluggers would you suspect of if you wouldn’t be afraid to say it on record here. i’m feeling mostly happy for the fact that i have yet to hear of a former blue jay or current one who has been mentioned in any of this including the mitchell report. unless u count clemens as a blue jay, i sure as hell don’t only pitched two years and if he was on them it was long before we signed him.

    MW: Ummmm, there’s no way to not count Roger Clemens as a former Blue Jay, Jose Canseco, too. Gregg Zaun and Howie Clark were both mentioned in the Mitchell report, as well. There are several ex-Jays I suspect, but I have no proof.

    - joe from new jersey
  50. 50.

    Hi Mike
    I read your blog daily and tke to heart all you have to offer. Including your recommendation of PF Changs. Went there last week and as you said the food was excellent as was the service. Our server was from Russia, a little unusual in a Chinese restaurant. Now you have to add Little Rock to your PF Chang tour

    MW: There has yet to be an Asian server in any P.F. Chang’s that I have been to, part of their grand plan to make ethnic food less frightening to xenophobic Americans. P.F. Chang’s: Non-Threatening Chinese Food! I don’t know that I’ll ever get to Little Rock, but if I do, I’ll hit the Chang’s.

    - Richard in AR
  51. 51.

    Mike,

    A few thoughts on the rotation coming out of spring trading..

    I have seen different reports on whether or not David Purcey has remaining any options left..

    If he doesn’t, unless he completely falls off the rails in spring training, wouldn’t he be a lock to make the starting 5?

    The guy has an arm that could put up outstanding numbers if he can find his command. I would hate to see the Jays let this guy go without giving him one more kick at the can..

    Also, I think it would be in the Jays best interest to give Scott Richmond some more time in AAA… He has an outstanding slider and curveball, he just needs to find a way to cut or sink his fastball. He should be figuring out this stuff in the minors…

    The dillignet thing for the Jays to do is to give Morrow one full season in the minors. Let him figure some stuff out. From what I have read, the Jays would get an extra year of control and the difference would be a struggling pitcher in a year that doesn’t matter or an amazing pitcher on a team that is competing (a perfect world scenario).

    Perhaps, its also in the Jays best interest to give Tallet a shot at starting. I think he has little to no value as a reliever, but with half a good year behind him, the Jays might be able to get something of value in a trade…

    MW: The Jays would love to have Morrow start the season in the rotation, but he does have options left, and they know that he wouldn’t be poorly-served by going back to AAA to work it out (though look at what he did in AAA last July and August). I believe that Purcey is out of options and you’re right, that reason alone likely has him making the team.

    - Stevie H.
  52. 52.

    “As of now what’s the BJ’s payroll going into 2010?”

    I estimate about $61.6 million before you count the money going with Doc ($6 million) and what we are paying Ryan not to pitch for us ($10 million) so $77.6 million going out the door.

    That includes all the guaranteed payments ($49.9 nillion including the payment due on Wells’ signing bonus) as well as an estimated $6.6 million for the remaining arbitration cases (and I’ve gotten within half a million of the arb total in my guesses the last three years) and $4.7 million for the rest of the roster.

    If the Jays go out and sign a platoon partner for Bautista that will of course go up a bit.

    But barring a surprise, total payroll outlay should come in under $80 million and the total for the active roster would be in the low 60′s.

    Unless Alex can pull off a minor miracle and move most or all of Overbay’s salary (not a lot of open 1B jobs left)

    MW: And what’d I say, around 60? Not a bad ballpark estimate, I guess.

    - WillRain
  53. 53.

    Mike,

    The 2010 roster looks close to being set. Right field still seems to be an issue, and I’m wondering how you think it’s going to end up. It looks like it’s Bautista’s spot, but in my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense to run him out there against righties, and so he needs a platoon partner.

    In hindsight, I wonder why then, they let Joe Inglett go so easily. He would have been an OK leadoff guy against righties, I think, having a pretty good OBP and seeing a lot of pitches. His UZR is not that great, but I always thought he was a decent defensive outfielder.

    What do you think is AA’s reasoning behind this?

    1) It’s Bautista’s full time job.
    2) Against righties, he wants an OF of Lind, Wells, Snider
    3) He prefers Gathright to Inglett
    4) He’s going to pick someone else up.

    MW: I think it’s 5) They wanted to open up a spot on the 40-man roster, and Inglett had the least value to them of the players they could put through waivers. They really don’t care about the marginal improvement offensively between Inglett and Bautista against righties this year, because this year is about making sure you have 25 bodies to put on the field.

    - RM
  54. 54.

    Mr. Wilner,

    I know that many times in the past, you have defended Bob McCown on this blog when somebody has trashed him. You have gone on and on about how knowledgeable he is. Well, I think he has finally said something that even you can’t defend.

    I read your comments about Andre Dawson making the Hall of Fame. I read all of your statistics and arguments about how he is not deserving of baseball’s highest honor. I totally agree with you. It is a joke that he was voted in. However, Mr. McCown thinks differently.

    I was listening to the podcast portion of fan590.com and I listened to the January 6th edition of PTS. At the very beginning of the 4pm hour, right after he mentions that Alomar didn’t make it, McCown says these exact words…

    “Andre Dawson did get in and I know some will be chagrined at that news. I’m ok with it. I thought The Hawk was a pretty decent ballplayer and probably worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.”

    I want to emphasize that was an EXACT QUOTE!!! I listened to the podcast several times just to make sure I typed his words exactly as I heard them. If you don’t believe me, just go listen to the beginning of the Jan. 6 4pm podcast. It is right there for everyone to hear.

    That statement is so bizarre, it defies description. If he truly believes Dawson deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, that is bad enough. However, he then goes on to say that Dawson was a “pretty decent” ballplayer. Oh, I’m sorry, my mistake, I thought the HOF was reserved for GREAT ballplayers.

    Ok, Mike, I am sure you listened to the podcast to see if I was misquoting Bob. Now that you know that I wasn’t, I want you to try and defend him. I dare you.

    MW: There’s nothing to defend, it’s his opinion. And as I have said, I’m OK with Dawson being in the Hall of Fame, too. I definitely wouldn’t have voted for him, but (and you can go back and read the post) I said I thought of him as a guy on the bubble, which means he’s right there at the bottom tier of Hall of Famers, where some think he’s in and some think he’s not. I’m one of the “not”s. Having Dawson in certainly isn’t as ridiculous as having Jim Rice in, for example. And it’s not like Bob said that Dawson absolutely belongs in Cooperstown. That quote of yours has a few qualifiers in it. To say that Dawson was a “pretty decent” player who is “probably worthy” and that he’s “OK with it” is far from a ringing endorsement.

    - Thomas
  55. 55.

    Mike,

    I too would love to see Lind in LF and Snider in RF and see what happens. Gotta be the right thing to do – especially with Lind? Seems to me that Lind has to play a position if we are working towards a powerhouse team that will win in the AL East. That leaves room for a great DH in the future. Again, thinking future, can Lind play 1B?

    MW: Yes, but Brett Wallace is the first baseman, thinking future. I don’t get this whole “Lind has to play a position” thing. Sure, DHs are easier to come by than other players, but why can’t they pull in a great left fielder in the future?

    - Steve in HH
  56. 56.

    MW: What did you hear at the end of last season? Arnie couldn’t have gone to Houston unless the Jays gave him permission to look. Of course they’d try to put a happy face on the whole Cito vs. the coaches thing.

    I must not have made myself clear. Obviously the Jays gave Arnsburg permission to talk to Houston. But at the end of last season the press was all over the story about Cito Gaston and his guys like Nick Leyva vs Brad Arnsburg and his guys. It seemed very clear that Arnsburg wanted out of a bad situation for him. I never got the feeling that Arnsburg wanted to stay in Toronto. It sounded very much like he was itching to leave. So this ‘I didn’t know…I wanted to stay but thought they might not want me…’ sentiment is a little disingenuous in my opinion, and I don’t see it as putting a happy face on the whole fiasco at all.

    MW: I don’t recall Arnsberg making any public comments that he wanted out during that whole thing.

    - isabella reyes
  57. 57.

    Mike…

    a) Is the catcher the Red Sox got from Texas in the Lowell trade (his name escapes me) good enough to back up Vic Martinez right now or is Varitek still in the plans?

    b) Nice catch on the Steely Dan lyrics…Was it a Dewayne Wise catch going over the wall or was it a Rick Bosetti easy basket catch?…Don’t know if you went to see The Dan in November at Massey Hall, but Mike it was simply amazing and if they didn’t have bandits pricing concerts, I would’ve gone to see them both nights because the first night was the “Aja” album (the one I saw) and the next night was “The Royal Scam” show. Donald Fagen can still do it.

    MW: A – There was no trade, Lowell failed his physical (it had been for Max Ramirez). Varitek is the back-up.

    - chris m.
  58. 58.

    “MW: I think it’s 5) They wanted to open up a spot on the 40-man roster, and Inglett had the least value to them of the players they could put through waivers. They really don’t care about the marginal improvement offensively between Inglett and Bautista against righties this year, because this year is about making sure you have 25 bodies to put on the field.”

    OK, makes sense. Though, as of today Hoffpauir and McCoy are on the 40 man, so I assume that they feel they have more upside, versatility or options then Inglett?

    MW: Yup.

    - RM
  59. 59.

    your crazy if you think romero comes after morrow and rzepczynski

    MW: My crazy what?

    Get with the times! All the kids are using “if” as a plural noun and “you” as an adverb. Sheesh.

    - Cooper Powell
  60. 60.

    Hey Mike,

    I was just wondering on the subject of Eric Bedard. Is there a reason he hasn’t been signed yet? And if not, would it be an ok decision to possibly wait until closer to the season to make him a low-ball one year deal to see what he can do to support the pitching staff?
    Thanks.

    MW: Bedard hasn’t signed yet in part because he’s still hurt, having undergone shoulder surgery in the summer. He might not be able to pitch until the all-star break. Frankly, I don’t see the value in bringing Bedard in on a one-year deal – the value would be to sign him to a cheap two-year contract with vesting options that could take it to four years in hopes that he could be healthy by 2012 or so.

    - Matt
  61. 61.

    Hi Mike,

    Do you think Larry Walker deserves to be elected to the Hall of Fame next year? He has very similar career offensive numbers to Edgar Martinez. If you think Edgar should get in, which I believe you do, do you think Walker deserves a spot? He was also a great defensive player and an outstanding base runner. I think he should get in but in all likelihood won’t on his first try.

    Thanks
    Jamie (another New York Penn League alum)

    MW: I don’t think that Larry Walker will get into the Hall of Fame, simply because he played the bulk of his career in an incredible hitting environment in Colorado.

    - Jamie in Calgary
  62. 62.

    Add Troy Glaus, Scott Schoeneweis, Randy Ruiz and Glenallen Hill as Jays who have been linked to steroids or HGH. Even my old favourite Ed Sprague admitted to using HGH.

    - Rory
  63. 63.

    Mike,
    The $60MM payroll guarantees that all of our discussions of how much to pay for this or that FA will be “nothing but sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Rogers has competent management in place but is devaluing the franchise by refusing to invest in the Blue Jays brand. I have canceled my seasons tickets. Look for record attendance lows in 2010. Meanwhile, I suggest you track down the AM 1100 Indians commentators from my childhood in the 1970s to collect talking points for your postgame shows in August.

    MW: What $60 million payroll?

    - Cleveland Mark
  64. 64.

    Re Marcum’s Salary: This is what really p****s me off about ball salaries!!! If I was off my job for a year, rehabbing, I find it hard to believe I would be compensated by having my salary doubled!!!!

    - Army
  65. 65.

    Mike,

    Love your blog, and wanted to let you know I respect your insight and knowledge.

    However, I do disagree with comments I have read from you a couple of times about how you don’t feel its that important to find Lind a position.

    I think it is importanant for a few reasons:

    1) This season isn’t about winning, its about setting the team up for future success 2-3 years down the road. Therefore, it would seem to be a waste of time to give innings in the outfield to Bautista, someone who isn’t in the long-term plans and won’t be here when we contend again. Isn’t this the time to develop Lind into an everyday outfielder? We know he is going to be a cornerstone for this team in the years to come.

    2) When we are ready to contend in 2 years it would be much better if Lind was the everyday starter in left rather than DH, as it would be substantially easier to find a DH through FA than trying to find a starting outfielder

    3) I don’t get this whole thing anyways that Lind is a bad outfielder. Where did this come from? I’ve never seen anything that would indicate he is a below average fielder. I’ll grant you he isn’t gold glove material, but he is not terrible.

    4) I know Lind has never publically said anything, but I can’t believe that a 26 year old is content being the everyday DH. He is a great player and we need to keep him happy if we want if to be here in the long term. He seems like a great guy, don’t think he would publically complain, but I can’t help to think its in the back of his mind. Maybe I’m just tainted from the George Bell circa 1988 spring training..but you have to agree I have a point.

    On a related topic, but I know the ship has sailed:

    If the Jays were so convinced that Lind couldn’t play the outfield, I don’t know why they were so big on classifying Wallace as a 1st basemen when he has played 3rd all the way through the minors. Why not groom Lind for 1st (post-Overbay) and Wallance for 3rd?

    Cheers

    MW: To your first three points – Lind isn’t a good outfielder. I agree with you that he should be in left field every day this season to see if he can become a good outfielder. 4 – Lind is here for at least four more years, whether he wants to be or not. He’s happy to be in the starting line-up, hitting third, everyday. Yes, he’d be happier in the outfield, but it won’t impact significantly, I don’t think, on his decision is 2013. 5 – Because they don’t think Wallace is a very good defensive third baseman, but they think he can be an above-average defensive first baseman.

    - Merv
  66. 66.

    Greetings Mike,

    I think one misconception about Mr. Gaston is that he has preconceived opinions of players and doesn’t like to make changes. In my opinion, it’s not that he’s not willing to be creative, but rather that he’s not willing to try different things in season. He’s often said or alluded that in season is not the time to try something new. Going into spring training, players such as Ruiz and Lind will be given every opportunity to develop his trust. Come opening day, if Adam Lind has earned his trust in his ability to play left (and by extension, Snider to play right), then Cito will stick with him, heck or high tide. He seems to be a real “until I see it with my own eyes” type of guy.

    Enough gnashing of teeth on the Overbay thing. In a perfect picture, Wallace starts in AAA, goes down and dominates. Overbay has a ‘contract year’ season, and either becomes a type A, or is moved at the trade deadline for good value, and to make room for a door-smahing Wallace.

    In non-competitive seasons, it’s the story bylines that a true fan cheers for. I’ll be rooting for Lyle to do well. He’s been nothing but classy in a Jays uniform, so I hope for the best for him. I’d like for him to have an all-star calibre year both because he deserves it, and because it’d be great for the Jays if they could flip him at the trade deadline for a prospect. It’s a win-win situation. Besides, he’s a great player, who never really got a fair shake on this team. Lyle Overbay would be a fantastic complementary piece on a good team. Can you imagine his numbers in the Yankee’s lineup? Especially in the new stadium?

    Guess there’s no real question here, other than a rhetorical one.

    All the best,

    MW: Thanks! I don’t agree with your points about Cito. I can’t see him giving Lind every chance in left, Snider every chance in right or Ruiz every chance to DH during Spring Training.

    - S. Charles
  67. 67.

    Mike

    Much has been made of the financial disparity in MLB and it’s impact on the ability of some teams to compete. I was wondering if it is your impression that the so-called “rich” AL teams dominate more than the “rich” NL teams and if that could be attributed to the DH? That is, do rich AL teams buy a big thumper DH, have a few good starters, and a closer and win “easier” than a NL team that needs a more diverse roster?

    MW: Hadn’t really thought about that. Thing is, the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels haven’t been paying huge money to their DHs.

    - Dan
  68. 68.

    Blog much?

    MW: If you don’t like it, put up your own blog!

    - Bobby
  69. 69.

    Mike….Violence has been dominating the junior hockey scene of late and the possibility of there being police involvement..Why does hockey bring police into on-ice incidents, like elbowing, where baseball polices its beanball incidents, which can be just as harmful physically (and possibly fatal) as well?

    MW: Hockey rarely gets the police involved, and there are far, far, far more acts of violence committed in hockey than there are in baseball.

    - chris m.
  70. 70.

    Mike

    To follow up my question about the DH and it’s impact, it may not be the money invested in a DH, but rather that with a DH, a rich AL team can dominate more than a NL team because you can win with a few dominant starters and a closer, since you don’t have to pull a starter as early to pinch hit, thus bringing in what is often a weaker pitcher and the weaker position sub that often accompanys that move. Does that make sense?

    MW: Yes and no. Dominant starters in the NL can go deep into games if their team provides them any kind of offense. It’s not as though they all get yanked in the 7th inning in 1-1 ties.

    - Dan
  71. 71.

    In response to #67:

    Big Papi, big money. Godzilla, huge money. Vladdy?

    On another note:

    Rick Ankiel would look great in a RF platoon with JoBau, no?

    Mike mccoy could be a valuable bench option, no? 25th Man? Nick Leyva was his manager in winter ball too! Maybe he got an extended look.

    MW: Vladdy, not so much. He got $5 million – Bobby Abreu money from last year. Ankiel has signed with the Royals since you left this comment. McCoy’s minor-league numbers on a very hitter-friendly team in a very hitter-friendly league look nice, but he’s going to be in tough to make the team.

    - andy mc
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