3:50 PM Eastern

Zaun out, Kevin in – that’s the way it seems to be with the Jays all but set to announce the signing of former Marlins and Cubs closer Kevin Gregg to a one-year deal with a couple of team options.

It seems like Cito Gaston wasn’t kidding at the State of the Franchise when he kept referring to an additional closer candidate that Alex Anthopoulos might bring in.

Gregg will likely be the closer for the Blue Jays this year, and probably makes a trade of Jason Frasor or Scott Downs the team’s next move.

It’s really a win-win move here for both the Jays and “the player”.  As I’ve said many times, this coming season isn’t about winning, it’s about giving guys a chance to play, not blocking players who have a chance to make an impact down the road and about gathering assets.  Gregg is an asset.

No, he’s not a great closer, and there’s plenty of debate that he’s even a good one, but that’s OK.  He’s an established, durable guy with a good arm who is only costing the Blue Jays $2.75 million.  And he’s all but guaranteed to be a Type-B free agent next season.  So, at worst, the Jays just spent almost $3 million to secure themselves another top-40 pick in 2011.

At best, Gregg comes in and blows the doors off, Bryan Harvey-Marlins-style, and the Jays either reap the benefits on the trade market in late July or use the club options to their advantage on the trade market in the wintertime.

He’s not going to displace anyone who was guaranteed to be a successful reliever.  There’s still room for Frasor, Downs, Carlson, Tallet, Accardo and Roenicke.  Casey Janssen and Shawn Camp will be up against it now, barring a Frasor/Downs trade, and they’ll have to find room to squeeze in a Zech Zinicola.  Unfortunately, Hey Dirkhurst is no longer in the running – he’s having arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder on Friday, here’s hoping they don’t find a torn labrum or a major rotator cuff issue.

When you can get a guy like Gregg – whose numbers are kind of enigmatic – for less than three million bucks, you do it, even if the only reason is to turn him into a sandwich pick a year down the road.  If one of Carlos Delgado, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye would come that cheap, I’d be all over that, as well.

As far as those numbers are concerned, Gregg is one of the weird right-handed pitchers who tends to fare much better against left-handed hitters.  This can be a huge asset if it’s something of which the manager is aware and willing to utilize.  In 2009, lefties OPS’d .592 against Gregg, compared to righties’ .860.  In 2007, his first year as a closer, it was .514 for the lefties and .732 for the righties.  2008 was more even, with only a  67-point difference between the two sides, and he was actually better against righties.

His home runs allowed spiked last year, which you would think was natural since he went from working in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark in Florida to a very hitter-friendly one on the north side of Chicago, but the numbers don’t bear that out.  He actually did a very good job of keeping the ball in the park at Wrigley, but gave up nine homers in 32 innings of work on the road (three of them over an inning and a third in FLA).

Gregg’s road numbers were awful last year – a 7.59 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and a .906 OPS against.  He did have three terrible outings in which he gave up a combined nine runs in just two innings of work, but then he had an outing at home in which he gave up four runs without recording an out, and he wound up with a 2.21 ERA, .573 OPS and a WHIP under 1.00 at home, so that doesn’t exactly explain things.

Bottom line, this isn’t a guy riding in on a white horse to be the next great closer in Blue Jays history.  He might wind up being Joey McLaughlin or Randy Moffitt, but that’s about the point in the Blue Jays’ development at which we stand right now.  The great benefit to bringing in Gregg is his ability to bring back tasty stuff for the future, whether that comes when they trade him or when he leaves as a free agent, as well as what could potentially come in a Frasor or Downs trade, since Gregg’s arrival pushes that door open a little bit wider.

For a small investment, with what are sure to be team-friendly options, that’s a good deal.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

55 Responses to “One Year Between Greggs”
  1. 1.

    Mike,

    What do you think it would take in addition to Frasor and/or Downs to pry a shortshop like Castro or Lee away from the Cubs? Would throwing in a Cecil or Romero work?

    MW: No, I think it’d take much more than that. I’m pretty sure those were among the guys Alex meant when he said that he’d offered teams six or eight guys for a young shortstop and they wouldn’t bite.

    - Ryan
  2. 2.

    Mike,

    You mention that at worse, Gregg will be spun into a sandwich pick as a Type B free agent following the 2010 season. This isn’t completely accurate, in that the Jays will have to offer him arbitration in order to qualify for draft pick compensation. That could prove to be too costly/risky.

    MW: It depends on the year he has, of course, but going in to arbitration with a salary of $2.75 million doesn’t necessarily set you up for a big payoff.

    - Kieran
  3. 3.

    So what type of a market would Downs/Frasor have this time of year? I would think they would be a lot more valuable come the end of July if they have another good year.

    What is A.A. looking to upgrade on that could be realistic if dealing one of them?

    Could they be used to sweeten the pot in an Overbay deal?

    MW: Well, they got Brandon Morrow for Brandon League and a prospect. AA is looking to add more young, elite-level prospects as he did in the Halladay deal.

    - T.Reis
  4. 4.

    michael,
    i see a few here commenting on your response to me a few posts back re: the jays winning perhaps 80+ games even without any substantial additions ie. j.damon etc…
    so i checked back & you did in fact say “could” possibly win that many not “would.”
    certainly a big difference between the two no doubt.
    now onto something else here. with some of these lingering f.a.’s starting to get scooped up are you not at least somewhat surprised it’s taking this long for someone to be bullish on one orlando hudson?
    now i realize in these parts anyway, hudson & reed johnson are rated somewhere in between willie mays & mickey mantle (which might be slightly overrating the pair & their baseball merits & credentials thus far) but all in all our o-dog is a fairly complete ballplayer. can do quite a few things it seems.
    and he’s not old. so what’s the hold up here in your humble estimation?

    MW: I’m not really sure, but remember that Hudson didn’t sign until even later in February last year than he did this year. It might have something to do with the fact that he was basically benched for the last month of last season and the playoffs for Ronnie Belliard, it might have something to do with the similar Adam Kennedy being out there on the market this year.

    - darrell bishop
  5. 5.

    Hey Mike,

    What do you think of Dave Cameron of fangraph’s take on the future of the Blue Jays? ( http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-2011-blue-jays/ ) Seems pretty encouraging considering it has been widely reported that Rogers will open their wallets when necessary.

    MW: The fact that they only have three players under contract for 2011 is really misleading, because of all the arbitration-eligible guys that they have, which Cameron does mention. I think he’s really reaching, too, when he says that Wells could be released or sent to the bench if he has another poor year.

    - Scott
  6. 6.

    Hello Mike, I was just wondering, if the Jays do end up trading either Downs or Frasor, who would you rather trade? If either? Or possibly both?

    MW: I think you get more for Downs, once he shows he’s healthy, but they’re both free agents after the season, so I don’t have a problem with dealing both if the return is right.

    - Adam
  7. 7.

    “As far as those numbers are concerned, Gregg is one of the weird right-handed pitchers who tends to fare much better against left-handed hitters. This can be a huge asset if it’s something of which the manager is aware and willing to utilize. In 2009, lefties OPS’d .592 against Gregg, compared to righties’ .860.”

    Umm…you know who is managing the team this year, right? I’m fairly certain that if you cited something like OPS to Cito, he’d likely raise an eyebrow, grumbling something about you talking nonsense, and then send Carlson out there for a 12-out relief appearance.

    - Branden
  8. 8.

    Once again you are able to explain logically and clearly all the angles in another Anthoupolos transaction. A win-win situation. Excellent!

    - Domenick
  9. 9.

    Hello, Mr. Wilner,

    “This can be a huge asset if it’s something of which the manager is aware and willing to utilize.”

    Do such managers exist? And is Mr. Gaston actually one of them?

    Enjoy Spring Training,

    MW: Such managers do exist, but I’m pretty sure that CIto isn’t one of them.

    - Moyashi from Japan
  10. 10.

    What would it take to pry away Starlin Castro or Hak-Ju Lee from the Cubs? Is Frasor, Downs, Cecil/Romero enough?

    MW: See above.

    - Renegade
  11. 11.

    I was looking at Johnny Damon’s number and didn’t realize that he was a potential Hall of Famer. If he plays 4 more seasons he will get 3000 hits and that seems more likely to get you in then the 500 homerun mark that Delgado will reach. I like Damon’s chances as he has had a very healthy career.

    - Domenick
  12. 12.

    I agree with you mike, i don’t know why fans jump off the deep end with deals like this and Alex, Jmac etc. but they always do.

    - Mark
  13. 13.

    Great Blog Mike!
    In your opinion, what will happen to David Purcey?

    MW: It’s a very good question. If he has a good spring, he’ll be in the rotation. If he doesn’t, he’ll either be traded or waived at the end of spring.

    - tose
  14. 14.

    Hey Mike,

    Signing Gregg at that price is a huge bargain considering what similar closer-types got this offseason:

    Rafael Soriano, $7.25M Tampa Bay
    Mike Gonzalez $12M/2yrs Baltimore
    Fernando Rodney $11M/2yrs Anaheim
    Brandon Lyon $15M/3yrs Houston
    Matt Capps $3.5M Washington

    Smart signing and like you said, adding Jermaine Dye or Delgado at a decent price would be welcome.

    - Ken Pagan
  15. 15.

    If you’re going to subscribe to the “It’s a good signing because Gregg can be peddled off for assets at the trade deadline”, wouldn’t Johnny Damon make more sense?

    I just don’t understand the need to sign someone like Gregg when the Blue Jays pen is absolutely loaded.

    MW: First of all, Johnny Damon isn’t (yet) willing to sign a one-year plus team options deal for under $3 million. Second of all, the Blue Jays’ pen isn’t absolutely loaded.

    - PBI
  16. 16.

    On a roster where Jose Bautista figures to be the starting RF (and not just a platoon player), $2.75M frittered away on 65 unspectacular relief innings is money that could have been more wisely spent. Seeing AA apparently seduced by Gregg’s closer reputation is disappointing.

    MW: Did you not read the post to which you’re responding? Anthopoulos hasn’t been seduced by anything, except perhaps the possibility of picking up another Brett Cecil or Travis D’Arnaud.

    - Chuck
  17. 17.

    Mike,

    I can understand the rationale might be to accumulate an “asset” but considering the Jays added 2 options to his contract, it doesn’t seem like it’s a trade him in July or get compensation for him when he leaves at season’s end. I think we’ve seen the trade market is non-existent for relievers (you get next to nothing back) so I don’t really see him as an asset. I don’t think he’s better than Frasor or Downs or even Accardo for that matter (who has exact same stuff, mid 90s fastball with split).

    There are lots of guys who put up Greg’s numbers minus the saves and make less than a third of what he is rumoured to be paid. Just because he got an opportunity via default to be the closer of the woeful Marlins and Cubs bullpen doesn’t mean he’s a closer or should he be paid this amount.
    I’m not a fan of this move.

    MW: I can tell. What do the options have to do with the Jays’ potential intentions to trade him or let him walk, though? The options actually make him easier to trade, if he has a good year. No one is expecting the Jays to be able to trade him for a Brett Wallace-type or anything like that. I don’t know where you got that the trade market is non-existent for relievers – this winter, relievers were the key pieces in trades that brought back Brandon Morrow, Jake Fox, Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Hermida and Akinori Iwamura, among others. And I don’t know too many non-0-3 relievers who put up Gregg’s numbers for $900K or less.

    - JT29
  18. 18.

    Mike,

    With this analysis of Kevin Gregg in mind, do you really have to see Damon’s price come down to $3 million to get the same kind of value from him. I know he might be less easy to shoehorn into the outfield than Gregg is into the bullpen, but if he takes it upon himself to beat up on the Yankees and Red Sox with a Jay’s uniform on, he could become amazing trade bait down the road. No?

    Plus, the leadership angle — he just helped win another World Series. I’m just saying.

    MW: There’s nothing to the leadership angle. None of us have any idea how much of a behind-the-scenes “help” Damon was to the Yankee victory. He is a terrific guy, though, and I’d love him to come to Toronto just to have another Blue Jay who is great to deal with from my perspective.

    - john
  19. 19.

    Hi Mike,
    I am just wondering how far away is Zach Stewart from the big leagues and what eventual role the Blue Jays project for him. After the Rolen trade there was a lot of talk that J.P. had acquired a good prospect but I haven’t really heard much about Stewart at all, this winter.
    thanks

    MW: Stewart could push for a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training. He’s very close to the bigs.

    - Rory Parisien
  20. 20.

    Mike,
    Having read your explanation for this reported signing I can now see the upside.I was worried about last year’s ERA but I can see now that this might not be all that important in the long run.We are after all building for the future.

    - Paul
  21. 21.

    Mike,
    I know GM_AA is looking for cheap reclamation projects that will either; (a) return to past glories and provide something to build on going into 2011, or (b) return to past glories and become a trade chip at the deadline or a sandwich pick. There are two names that just LEAP off the FA list as exactly those type of guys, and I’m wondering if you’ve heard any scuttlebutt. Jermaine Dye is one, but the one I’m even more interested in is Hank Blalock. I know, I know, we don’t have any ‘holes’ at 1B/3B/DH, but value is value. Blalock isn’t old, and might just need a change of scenery out of Texas. I don’t think he’s a saviour, but anecdotally he HAS to have a lot more value to this team than someone like Delgado or Damon, whom are both on the slippery side of their careers, to be kind (not that I believe either of those things were ever really going to happen). Blalock at DH makes Lind the everyday LF, which doesn’t scare me as much as it seems to scare a lot of naysayers – give the kid a chance to work on his below average defence – this is clearly the year to hand him the keys and let him make mistakes in the learning process. I think Blalock, and I think about a kid with a lot of power (think 2003 All-Star game, game-winning HR), not too old (he’s only 29), who probably needs someone to deconstruct his swing and give him a chance to have 500 low-pressure AB’s to get himself righted. Anyway, sorry to ramble – what is your take on Blalock, would he be a solid piece of the ‘puzzle’, and have you heard whether GM_AA has considered him in any iteration?

    MW: I have always liked Blalock, but he’s never been able to stay healthy. If he ever does, he could explode. I haven’t heard about any interest on the Jays’ part, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any.

    - Rob
  22. 22.

    michael,
    just got booked. going down with my lovely wife & little girl to clearwater area, tail end of march break.
    gonna’ have wheels so planning on seeing some baseball. can’t wait i can’t lie.
    so, listened to the gm this morning on the 590 airwaves. and he got me thinking more about there bullpen with the probable eventuality of k. gregg coming on board to add his wares to the pen….
    depth in arms is certainly a long suit here is it not?
    no rivera like prowess down there needless to say, but man in terms of legitimate quality arms & lots of them, is there really anybody in the mlb in better shape than this team?
    i’m thinking not michael.
    gregg, downs, frasor, accardo, roenicke, janssen, tallet, carlson, camp, newly acquired valdez & zinicola, whomever doesn’t make the starting rotation…perhaps richmond, purcey or young or mills. and when litsch finally comes back or…. if s. hill makes the scene, then maybe rzep. or cecil need to move out to the pen.
    my goodness michael…..
    do you know what it reminds me of? well i’ll tell you. you know how all the hockey people say that if canada felt like icing 2 teams in the olympics they easily could.
    ya you guessed it my friend. you know where i’m going with this. i’m thinking that if there were a mlb bullpen championship, the blue jays could easily enter 2 teams.
    the no.’s don’t lie michael. the no.’s don’t lie.
    no siree…….
    so bam! you can put that in your pipe & smoke it.

    MW: I think you need to rub the rose-coloured tint off those glasses you’re wearing.

    - darrell bishop
  23. 23.

    Mike,

    Well, as you indicate, there is certainly debate about whether this guy is a “good closer”; remember how he self-destructed last year, losing his job and helping sink the Cubs out of the division race – but at least in Toronto he’s not going to have to worry about THAT kind of pressure.

    - Ken
  24. 24.

    As an American who has been a Blue Jay fan since day one, I share your sentiments on Tom Cheek as I too feel his being overlooked for the Hall of Fame is inexcuseable. His snub is not without precedent as the Hall has overlooked the late Herb Score for years. Score retired as the Indians play-by-play man in 1997 after 33 years. Shortly after retiring he was involved in a serious car accident that left him in an wheelchair for the rest of his life. He died about a year ago and was passed on for a good ten years when inducting him when he was still alive was the right thing to do. I’d like to see Tom get in with Roberto Alomar, so maybe next year they’ll do the right thing.

    I know this has nothing to do with the Blue Jays, but did you see the A’s made a trade with the Reds on Monday to acquire Willy Tavares, then promptly designated Tavares for assignment? What was the point of that?

    MW: Either the A’s wanted Adam Rosales a lot more or they already had a buyer on the line for Tavares when they made the deal.

    - Jim in Ohio
  25. 25.

    Bad news……..good news. Bad news is Wiarton Willy predicts 6 more weeks of winter. Good news…..only 2 weeks until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training! Yipee!!!

    - Army
  26. 26.

    I vaguely remember the first Jays $3M player (was it George Bell?) and it seemed exorbitant and absurd.

    $3,000,000 to play baseball.
    I also remember somewhat later when the AVERAGE position player topped $1M…

    Even then, the disparity in team payrolls was rearing its ugly head and I remember discussing that baseball needed a salary cap.

    Similarly, when the Jays were in the upper echelon of spenders @ 80M team payroll, getting a 100M salary cap seemed somewhat realistic, if not at all likely.

    What team would ever spend $100M?

    Now that same 3M nets you a mediocre closer and a top 40 pick down the road (with no certainty in signing it).

    - Gary
  27. 27.

    Mike, I was reading through the old blog entries, and I had to chime in on your dental adventures, as I am… wait for it… (I am sure you’ve guessed by now)… a dentist.

    Firstly, with regards to Toradol (generic name of ketorolac), it is a NSAID (non-steriodal atni-inflammatory drug), meaning it is in the same family as Advil, Aspirin, Naproxen, and others of that ilk. What that means is that it is effective against inflammation (which one would likely experience around the tissues surrounding the PDL space of a necrotic tooth, or even within a live tooth which has an irreversible pulpitis), but has no soporific, amnestic or euphoric effecits (i.e. will not make you sleepy, does not affect memory, or does not alter consciousness (what some call being “stoned”).
    In simpler words, it works to take away pain and swelling from a sore tooth, but not more than that. This is why Toradol is considered as being both an effective and useful analgesic medicine within the dental community. I feel that some may be confusing this drug with one of the opiates (e.g. oxycodone [aka "oxycontin"), hydrocodone [aka "vicodin", when combined with acetaminophen], morphine, etc.). The opiates work very well against pain, but have very serious side effects (specifically when taken constantly for very long periods of time, especially when self-medicating) such as addiction (both psychological and physical), respiratory depression, altered liver function and constipation. In simpler terms, if you take these drugs outside of the guidance of a licensed health care provider, one may find themselves addicted, thoroughly constipated, with an enlarged liver, and run the risk of dying from suffocation as a result of overdose. I do not recommend it.

    With regards to the root canal procedure, I hope and trust that yours was uneventful. That being said, it is a personal pet peeve of mine when I hear people refer to a root canal as being extremely painful, or using it as a comparison to medieval torture and the like. To eliminate any confusion or lack of background on the subject (at this point, Mike, I am addressing the audience, rather than yourself), a root canal should not be (and routinely is not) painful. The pain that some associate with root canal therapy usually stems from a tooth being difficult to anesthetize (or “freeze”), either because the necrosis around the tooth impedes the efficacy of an amide anesthetic, if the tooth is non-vital, or, in the case of a vital tooth, because the tooth is in a hyper-excitable state (which we refer to as “irreversible pulpitis”, meaning a tooth pulp that is swollen and will not cease to be swollen). Once a tooth is anesthetized, a root canal is uniformly a painless procedure. While some post-operative pain does occasionally occur, it usually subsides in a few days, and is very rarely nearly as severe as the pain experienced before treatment was started.

    Having been a dentist for several years, and having performed in the neighbourhood of 1000 root canal treatments, I feel I do have the jurisdiction to speak on the matter with a fair degree of authority. In simpler terms, root canals aren’t that bad. Rather than make comparisons with other procedures, I think it suffices to say that if a root canal is the most daunting event in your life, be grateful, not upset.

    Oh, and by the way… Go Jays Go!

    MW: Wow – I see this is a sensitive issue for you. And I do agree with you, when I told people I was having a root canal, they reacted with great sympathy and concern, when in fact it’s just another trip to the dentist for me.

    - D
  28. 28.

    If Gregg puts up numbers like last year no one will sign him if it means giving up a compensatory pick.

    MW: First of all, his numbers weren’t horrible last year (except for the home runs). Second of all, if Gregg is a Plan B free agent, no one would have to give up a pick to get him, the Jays would just get one.

    - Zack
  29. 29.

    Hey Mike,
    So other than the names on the pitching staff we all have seen pitch, is there anyone new you would expect to see more of this year? A Zinicola, Gonzalez, or Perez? Are any of these relative unknowns expected to be an above average arm?
    Also, other than Downs and Frasor who are on the trading block, is there anyone else in the rumour mill that can land us a hot fielding prospect?

    Thanks,

    MW: We don’t know if Downs or Frasor could land the Jays a hot prospect, for starters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Luis Perez make the big club at some point this season, or maybe some guys you didn’t mention like Zach Stewart or, out of the bullpen, Tim Collins or Daniel Farquhar.

    - Stavros
  30. 30.

    Mike, Im ok with adding gregg, but i dont see him as being any where near the reliever downs is, and it is quite debatable if he is even Frasor’s equal. I do recognize that he has a good arm and could bring back some picks. If money is not an overriding factor, would it not make sense to keep all three guys? Surely you would get more for downs or frasor, or even gregg during the season, as teams become desperate for relief help due to injuries/over worked starters.

    MW: No one said a trade was imminent. I also think that the return for Downs, at least, would be far higher during the season.

    - GeneralZod
  31. 31.

    3-pitch Frasor > Gregg, IMO.

    MW: And? It’s not like they traded Frasor for Gregg.

    - david
  32. 32.

    It’s common for young pitchers to struggle with their control, especially power pitchers but they usually begin to harness that control with experience. Why would a pitcher go the other way and become more wild with more experience. Explain the case of Carlos Marmol.

    2007 69IP 35BB 96K
    2008 87IP 41BB 114K
    2009 74IP 65BB 103K

    MW: His walk rate was actually better in 2008 than it was in 2007, despite issuing more walks in absolute terms. In 2009, well, can’t a guy have a bad year?

    - Domenick
  33. 33.

    Good signing here by AA.. Who do you think would get more in a Jays trade Downs or Frasor? What could the Jays expect to get back?

    MW: See above.

    - BlueJays08
  34. 34.

    Mike,

    Is it true that Randy Ruiz is playing Left Field in winter ball and has lost some weight?

    MW: Yep

    - Scott
  35. 35.

    Well I for one would like to see frasor resigned.
    He just gets the job done year in and year out.

    MW: Frasor is under contract for 2010. I’m a big Frasor fan, but it should be noted (since it’s been completely ignored by the hysterical masses), that Kevin Gregg actually had a better WHIP than Frasor did in both 2007 and 2008.

    - david998
  36. 36.

    michael,
    you now remind us above of yet 4 more pitchers possibly in the equation here going forward. and most of which slated for the bullpen. perez, farquhar, collins & stewart & i forgot young ray in my previous post as well.
    so no rose coloured glasses here my baseball friend. negaroono on that.
    cause’ you’re making the case michael…..you’re making the case.
    the blue jays are now entering 3 team entry territory for this mlb bullpen championship
    so bam! there you go again.
    btw, very solid points there on why orlando hudson has probably not had teams from thruout mlb “come a running” with foaming mouths & cheque books out waiting to sign him up on the dotted line.
    the late season benching & playoff sit down certainly wouldn’t of helped his cause any no doubt.
    looking like a 1 yr. deal for $5m with the twinners.
    it’ll at least be fun to see the o-dog again this yr. down at the ballpark with his re-entry back into the a.l if true.
    cause’ we all love the o-dog don’t we?
    him and reed johnson. 2 best ballplayers this city has ever seen……

    MW: I’m assuming you’re attempting sarcasm or irony with this entire post. I never know for sure with you.

    - darrell bishop
  37. 37.

    I like this deal its low risk at 2.75 or 3 if they do not exercise the options and it just adds more depth to the bullpen and you can never have too much pitching. On another topic with contracts having options I saw that Aaron Hill had 3 club options at 26 million total and all 3 have to be exercised prior to the 2011 season, do you think AA will exercise all 3 of those options or will Hill become a free agent?

    MW: Before the 2011 season is the only time the Jays can exercise all three options, but if they wait until after the 2011 season, they can still exercise the 2012 option, or the one on 2012-2013. No matter what, Hill can’t become a free agent after 2010.

    - Royce
  38. 38.

    I saw you said in another post that you probably won’t be in Vancouver at all (that’s where I am). Oh well.

    If you like beer, I highly recommend trying a few at the Brewhouse in Whistler village. The seasonal Belgian Winter they have this year is particularly good.

    Have fun!

    MW: Thanks. Who can afford beer in Whistler?

    - Darren
  39. 39.

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve really liked what A.A. has done so far, but sorry, can’t agree on this one. Gregg blew seven saves last year in 30 chances, and nine in 38 chances the year before.
    That was in the inferior National League. He’ll just be another arm coming out of the bullpen in the homer-happy AL.

    MW: And?

    - steve
  40. 40.

    Michael,

    Where do you think that wacky Cito will bat Vernon this coming season?

    Also, do you think there will be a competition in spring training between Wallace and Ruiz to fill the DH role, or does Wallace still need some time at AAA while Ruiz might be someone the Jays would want to get some ML ABs so they could trade him?

    Thanks.

    MW: I don’t think we’ll see Randy Ruiz having a major role on the Jays this season, and I think Wallace will be shipped out to AAA relatively early in the spring. I don’t think Cito is “wacky”, I think he and I just disagree on a lot of tactical things. I would expect that he’ll hit Wells second or fifth, but maybe fourth.

    - Uncle Ben
  41. 41.

    Mike,

    I read an article yesterday that says that Randy Ruiz has lost weight and is in good shape. He’s also OPS’ing well over 1.000 in Winter Ball. Looks like he picked up where he left off. I don’t see the harm in giving him a legit chance at cracking the club, or ever a starting job, given his performance last September. Signing a Delgado or Damon more or less takes that chance away (unless he bumps Snider).

    MW: I don’t see the harm, either, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    - RM
  42. 42.

    Hey Mike,

    Just wanted to ask you about a thought that came to mind. Since the Jays seem to have payroll flexibility to make moves that will benefit the team down the road, why don’t they re-structure Vernon Wells contract a bit? They can front-load more of the payments, which benefits Wells, and then be left owing him a more reasonable salary in 2012 and on, when they can use that extra cash for more use on the free agent market and filling holes.

    Does this make sense? Is it possible to see such a thing?

    Thanks a lot!

    MW: Wells’ contract can only be restructured if he wants to restructure it – and why would he?

    - Bret
  43. 43.

    I think Downs should be moved and Frasor kept. And I don’t see Janssen at all. He was flat out horrible last year in almost every appearance. So he’d better show something else in preseason. What I loved about Frasor’s game last year, although he later went away from his change up, he was not afraid to throw, successfully, challenge fastballs. And he seemed to be overcoming his deer in the headlights look on the mound. With Downs, he still has value, but he relied heavily on spotting a substandard fastball all too often when his breaking pitch wasn’t working. And he had the opportunity to close games with little success.

    - Will, Oshawa
  44. 44.

    Mike, can you please explain how Purcey is out of options? I have heard several conflicting versions of his service time/options status.

    MW: Purcey isn’t out of options, I contributed to that confusion by mistakenly believing he was. Purcey has one option year left.

    - andy mc
  45. 45.

    Excellent signing by AA. The big picture is like a large jigsaw puzzle and AA is doing a fine job adding some nice pieces.

    - Eddie
  46. 46.

    I don’t think we should be worrying too much about closers,How does this Gregg guy get 2 3/4 mil and options up to 8 mil in total, when none of our other pitchers are making that kind of money. We should be looking at another quality starter. I believe Jared Weaver signed for $800,000 for 1 yr.So far I’m not impressed with the moves. Orlando Hudson would have been nice at 3rd base in place of Encarnacion. For the money doubleA is paying these no names he is signing, he could have brought back Hinkse, who could fill in at 1st,third,and outfield. He wouldn’t have hurt us.

    MW: You do understand that it’s all about service time, right? Do you think that Jered Weaver would have made $465,000 last year if he’d been eligible for abritration? This year, Weaver will make $4,265,000 – I don’t know wear you heard $800K. Encarnacion and Hudson are very similar offensive players (by OPS), and Eddie is five years younger. He’s also under contract.

    - Angelo
  47. 47.

    Hey Mike,

    My understanding is that AA is taking a ‘more-the-merrier’ approach to the bullpen competition this Spring Training.

    I don’t think AA’s “crazy” or building 3 bullpens for the great “bullpen championship”… Pitching depth is important – I get that.

    The way I see it, either AA’s very thorough on relief pitching, or he’s trying to create some healthy competition (except when Scott Downs lays the smackdown on Lance Broadway).

    Is there a “change-the-culture” angle he’s going on do you think?

    MW: I don’t think he’s trying to change the culture, and I don’t really think the Lance Broadways of the world are going to really push the ones who expect to be on the big club. But like you said, depth is important and the more arms you have, the more you can afford to lose to injury or trade.

    - Mike F
  48. 48.

    michael,
    yes indeed. you sniffed out the facetiousness of my last post as you usually do.
    but to be serious about the subject, this team certainly does have the makings of a very solid bullpen yet again for this upcoming season.
    at least 4 guys that have shown the ability to close out games at the major league level with some degree of success that i can see.
    and some other very sound arms (from both sides) to compliment the former.
    we’re ok there it seems.
    but wanted to ask you something. we knew by listening & reading that a.a. had the plan to revamp & broaden the scouting staff of this organization. and on that note i heard over the weekend that his scouting staff no. is now up to 69.
    holy crap michael……. am i allowed to say that? it just seems somewhat appropriate based on the no. of eyes (138)now perusing for talent on the minor & major league level & i’m assuming a more asserted presence on the international scene as well.
    69 though. any idea if that leads the majors or not?
    gotta be right near the top doesn’t it?

    MW: I have no idea where the Jays total number of scouts ranks relative to other big-league teams.

    - darrell bishop
  49. 49.

    michael,
    ok. so i go on to this rotoworld site pretty regularly just to check things out. they do a pretty decent job all in all in keeping up with current developments in all the major sports.
    so they’ve been starting to prep the baseball poolsters with this one particular segment where they’re showing overrated, underrated & sleeper type picks at each position etc…
    perhaps you’re familiar….(i’m sure you are)
    in any case michael, they started with the catchers last week. wasn’t expecting any mention of the jays backstops here. and there wasn’t. pretty non descript bunch right?
    then it was 1b. thought there might perhaps be a mention of lyle o. somewhere….. you know semi established & all going into a contract year etc… but no mention. and not entirely shocked there either i suppose.
    so they post the 2b today.
    thinking to myself, self, finally a column where a blue jay may finally show up for at least a mention.
    but no. young aaron nowhere to be seen in the entire post.
    now i realize he probably doesn’t fit in to any of those 3 categories correctly as he is not either overrated, underrated or a sleeper anymore. but my goodness michael. not even an acknowledgement that the slugger even exists. it made me sad i won’t lie to you.
    but then got to thinking to myself, self, we got shutout from the first 3 positions in the infield and we have an excellent chance at getting shutout of the remaining 2 as well at ss & 3rd.
    i hope i’m wrong but i’m pretty sure i’m not.
    so a big fat doughnut i think coming for the blue jays right around the entire bloody horn.
    DAMN IT JIM. I’M A DOCTOR NOT A MECHANIC!!!!
    sorry michael. i tend to use that when i’m about to lose my temper over something.
    anyway any thoughts?

    MW: I think you need to step away from the Star Trek, for starters. I’m a little surprised, I guess, that Edwin Encarnacion isn’t considered a sleeper for fantasy types at third base. I wouldn’t expect Overbay to be there, unless OBP is a category in more fantasy leagues than I think. As for Aaron Hill – is he overrated because of the 36 homers, or is he underrated because no one expects him to do it again?

    - darrell bishop
  50. 50.

    Got a surprise today when I updated my podcasts in ITunes and got a preview message from Baseball Today – is there any chance this thing gets started before hockey playoffs are over? The Fan has so much “filler” programming, it’s completely beyond me why a Rogers owned media company isn’t trying to do a better job selling the baseball and the Jays by allowing you to work your magic year-round with a regular program.

    MW: No one has said anything about Baseball Today to me yet this year.

    - Ari
  51. 51.

    Hey Mike,

    Do you see any point in trying to grab a vet for the rotation at this point ? Yes, you know who i mean, the ol Jarrod Washburn.

    If he will sign for less then 5mill, i don’t see how having a proven horse (though lame) could hurt. Especially with all the things that can happen to such a young pitching staff.

    MW: Why would you rather see Jarrod Washburn than Marc Rzepczynski or Brett Cecil or Brandon Morrow or Luis Perez or Brad Mills or David Purcey or Zach Stewart?

    - Dave
  52. 52.

    Just in case no one else has posted this:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/342158-5-reasons-for-the-toronto-blue-jays-to-contend-for-world-series-in-2014

    Enjoy!

    MW: It kind of reads like a high school essay, but sure, all those things are valid. Mostly.

    - isabella reyes
  53. 53.

    Mike, baseball salary question.

    If a team releases a player, like the Jays released Rios and BJ last year, how much of the remaining contract are they required to pay, and if another team signs them, how does that change the situation (use Rios as an example I suppose)

    Thanks

    MW: Rios wasn’t released, he was waived. The White Sox claimed him off waivers and therefore assume the entire remainder of the contract. Ryan was released, so the Blue Jays owe him the entire remainder of the contract, but if another team was to sign Ryan to a major-league contract, that team would have to pay Ryan the $400,000 major-league minimum, so the Jays would be off the hook for that.

    - Bob from Sandusky
  54. 54.

    “This year, Weaver will make $4,265,000 – I don’t know wear you heard $800K.”

    “wear”? C’mon Mike, you must be tired!

    Sorry couldn’t resist.. keep up the great work.

    (Not the Angelo from post 46!)

    MW: Geez, I guess I was tired. Sorry about that, but like I have said before, the comment answers don’t get proofread.

    - Angelo M.
  55. 55.

    Do you have any info on the reports that the Jays are seriously looking at Cuban 1st basemen Jose Julio Ruiz? Seems odd to me as the Jays appear to be set at 1st. I would think that Cuban defector Leslie Anderson would be more on AA’s radar as he can play CF and RF.

    MW: I haven’t heard about that stuff.

    - Clint
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