And So It Begins…

TORONTO – I had just warmed up a plate for of tacos when that dreaded little envelope popped up in the lower right-hand corner of my computer screen last night. So, my food returned to room temperature as I glanced over the e-mail that included the list of 57 free agents who had filed for free agency at the first possible moment.

Sure enough, Matt Stairs and Joe Kennedy were included on the list. The Jays have shown a desire to bring Stairs back, but they didn’t give a real good indication of where Kennedy stood at the end of the year. Kennedy made $2.8 million last year, and my guess is that if the Jays did decided to bring him back as a situational lefty, that could mean Brian Tallet is non-tendered. We’ll see. Tallet would be the cheaper option through arbitration.

As for Stairs, if the Jays can figure out a way to provide him with 300 or so at-bats, he’d probably re-sign. The last thing he probably wants is to have a healthy starting nine — has that happened before? — keep him sitting on the bench all year. Stairs has shown he’s worth more than $850K and that he can still pick it at first, roam the outfield, fill in at DH, come off the bench in a pinch, and at the end of the year he said he could even play third, if needed (Word is that TroY Glaus met with MLB about the ol’ steroid report last month).

I’m sure Stairs would love a two-year offer from Toronto, but can you really give a two-year deal to someone who will be 40 years old? Oh, wait. Frank Thomas will be 40 and he’s going to be around for two more seasons. I guess there’s precedent there. I think a one-year deal would be the wiser move, but Stairs might find other suitors after the season he just turned in.

With Stairs in mind, what do you loyal members of Blue Jays Nation think should be done in left field? Is Reed Johnson worth the risk of signing at $3 million or so after an injury-plagued, subpar season? Should the Jays explore another option via free agency (Shannon Stewart’s out there)? Is it Adam Lind time? Maybe a Johnson/Catalanotto-esque platoon is out there somewhere? Sound off…

And, man, did my fantasty football team ever blow it this weekend. I’m sick of these guys not showing up. I was 4-1 and in first place three weeks ago. Now? I’m 4-4. Peyton Manning can’t do it alone! I’m afraid some guys might be packing up their lockers today.

15 Comments

Hello Jordan,

First off, I would like to thank you for answering my arbitration question on Bluejays.com, that was the answers I was looking for and I always enjoy seeing my name in print lol. As for Johnson, I am torn, I like the type of player he is, that gritty type of player and I like the platoon of Johnson and someone Lund or even Stewart’s would be a good idea. The problem I have with Johnson is that he is not the perfect lead off hitter. He does not steal bases and he has some speed but not the fastest on the team. I think Johnson will come back and play better then this year but I think we could do better in leadoff spot.

I beleive the only way to keep Stairs is to over pay him for a one year contract or offer two years. If I’m in control I give Stairs his two years, bring back Johnson for one more try and leave Lind in AAA in waiting to assume the starting job in 08. Lock up Rios long term and your outfield is set till about 2010 until you make a decision on who fits best in left, Lind or Snider. Lefty/Righty platoon or close to a platoon for Johnson and Stairs until someone gets hot. If they both falter bring up Lind and let him start everyday.

As far as free agents go the Jays are pretty much set with their team like it or not. They have a bunch of guys who can’t be moved and a bunch of guys they won’t move. Maybe sign a low risk starter to compete for the 5th spot.

I say… Trade Glaus and get Figgins then you can package Johnson with a pitcher to get a decent hitting SS and Johnny Mac would then make the ultimate utility guy.

I’d sign Stairs for 1 year and no more. If he demands two, let him walk. Lind is capable of fullfilling that 4th outfielder role right now, so Stairs is a luxury.

I’d sign Johnson for 1 year-because we either sign him, release him or trade him for no value. I do actually think he’ll turn it around although I also think 2006 was his career year.

I think Snider will be ready to go in 2009. His bat is ready now, he just needs work on defence. So, anything we do has to take this into consideration,cause this kid is going to be an all-star, and personally I want him in left field as soon as we can get him here.

Add one more starter to the competition for the 5th starters role.

David Purcey is definately back. We drafted him in the 1st round in 2004. He rose rapidly through the system and got to AAA in 2005. He has great stuff-often compared to McGowan from the left side-but had mechanical flaws which resulted in a lot of walks. He was sent back down to AA towards the end of 2006 to sort it all out.

That appears to have been accomplished towards the end of 2006 or over the off season and he started 2007 in AA strong. after 3-4 games his era was about .69, his walks were way down and he still averaged 1 to 1.5 strikeouts per inning. He was likely the first choice to call up instead of Jessie Litsch.

Then he faltered, struggled and finally went on the disabled list. Ultimately he was diagnosed with a cyst in his forearm and bicips and went under the knife. No thanks to the Blue Jays or The New Hampshire Fisher Cats-who refused to issue any information on his injury. I finally tracked it down on the following web site:

http://bluejays.scout.com/a.z?s=325&p=8&c=1&nid=2057118

Four months later, he’s pitching in the Arizona fall league and today went 5 innings, only gave up 2 hits, struck out 3 and walked 2. His era is now sitting at 2.08 which is quite an accomplishment considering how long he’s been out and he’s only gone 8 innings in his previous 3 starts, as they broke him in gently. He now leads the league in strike outs with 16 in 13 innings pitched. I expect him to improve as he gains strength.

At one time Purcey was projected as a front of the rotation pitcher-maybe he’s finally going to deliver on that promise. A left hand power pitcher with a 95+ mph fastball and a knee buckling breaking ball would look awful good against NY and Boston.

Only thing is, when he does make it up here, I think he’ll likely need a different sized foot locker for those miniscule size 18 shoes. Lol

I think Bartolo Colon would be a guy i’d be inclined to take a look at. As for Stairs i’d prefer Jordan’s alternative in bringing in Shannon Stewart if Matt does indeed ask for 2 yrs.

A Stewart/Lind platoon doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Stewart’s definitely in his declining years, but he’d be a good, veteran presence to help out Lind. The problem, though, is still with the leadoff spot — on days when Lind’s playing instead of Steward, who will hit at the top of the order?

I dont know about you guys, but I still get nightmares about Stewart trying to throw out someone at home plate with that old lady arm of his.

I think Reed Johnson is a better alternative

Now here might be a real possibility.

If we assume we sign Stairs for one year and sign Johnson, then Lind looks like the odd guy out since Snider is two years or less away.

So how about this trade. Let’s trade Lind to Boston for Jed Lowrie, their AAA shortstop who looks like he’s close to making it and could be a real good one.

Boston have Lugo signed for another 3 years; but are looking for a 4th outfielder (I guess they didn’t like Henske any more than we did) and Lind would fit well in left field in Boston and become a potential replacement for Manny in a few years.

In 40 games in AAA, Lowrie batted .300, hit 5 Hr’s and knocked in 21. He’s had his share of all star awards like Lind and is reasonable on defense. He’s 23 years old.

With help from Macdonald, Hill and Butter, Lowrie could turn into something special at SS. Combined with Hill, our middle inflield would be young, low cost and grow together and improve for years.

Potential good trade for both teams-trading top flight prospects where there’s little room at the top. Our unselfish Macdonald would become our super utility player, break the kid in and teach him the fine art of all-star defense.

Come on JP give Theo a call; you never know he might offer Lugo instead with cash to boot.

I think Lowrie is going to be a good one, too.
But look at his AFL numbers right now..

And, apparently he is stronger offensively than defensively.

Those numbers suggest he needs to stay at AAA for now.

I’m pissed off about Joe Torre going to L.A. with out the jays even talking to him. I understand that he’s the highest payed manager in baseball but he’s also arguably the best, if not certainly top 3. If they’re not going to change the players, at least bring in a guy with a ton of experience as manager.

Whether or not you think Gibbons can or will be good is irrelevant because Torre has proven that he IS good.

On top of it all if they were to have enough money left to sign a free agent i’d be willing to bet that Torre is a better sell as a players manager then John is. It might’ve been a pipe dream but I was still hoping.

Games-some info on Lowie Courtesy of the Red Sox prospects web site as follows:

http://www.soxprospects.com/players/lowrie-jed.htm

Scouting Report: Lowrie is an intelligent shortstop with a decent glove and average range. His arm is strong but he needs to work on his throwing accuracy. May be moved to 2B, but his strong work ethic and improving defense is increasing the chances he could stick at SS. Above average speed on the basepaths. He demonstrated plus power for a middle infielder in college, but at this point he looks to have decent gap power and not a lot of home run pop. Hits equally from both sides of the plate. Outstanding plate discipline, his best attribute may be his ability to work pitchers for good at bats. Fundamental and athletic.

MLB Comparison: Carlos Guillen

Awards

2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year

2004 First Team All-American (Baseball America)

2004 First Team All-American (Louisville Slugger)

2004 First Team All-American Sports Weekly

2005 First Team Preseason All-American (BA)

2005 First Team Preseason All-American (LS)

2005 First Team Preseason All-American (NCWBA)

2005 NYPL All Star

2005 SoxProspects.com All-Star – SS

2006 SoxProspects.com Pre-Season All-Star – SS

Red Sox ML Quality Plate Appearances Award (August 2006)

2007 SoxProspects.com Pre-Season All-Star – SS

SoxProspects.com Player of the Week (May 6-12, 2007)

SoxProspects.com Player of the Month (May 2007)

SoxProspects Player of the Week (May 27 – June 2, 2007)

Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Month (May 2007)

2007 Eastern League All Star

2007 Sea Dogs Most Valuable Player

2007 SoxProspects.com All Star – SS

2007 SoxProspects.com Comeback Player of the Year

2007 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year

Red Sox ML Defensive of the Month (Aug/Sep 2007)

My guess is he’s ready now. On the other hand, I’m not sure we’d get him by just giving up Lind.

enigma

Well, anyone is better than Abner. I would have loved to see Torre here too.

I’m pretty sure there are rules that don’t allow a team to have “talks” with a potential new manager when they already have a manager under contract.

Sorry to say it, but I doubt Torre would even want to work in Toronto. He’s a big market kind of guy….

I think they have to ask permission of the other team in order to talk to a manager currently under contract-but it doesnt matter at all if they talked to Torre while still having Abner under contract.

I do think you’re right about Torre being a big market kind of a guy.

The luck of the draw

Detroit got some really bad news late yesterday. Their 8th inning guy, Zumaya, who was being groomed to take over the closers position in 2008 injured his shoulder when a box fell on him while he was helping his dad get stuff out of their house in the California fires.

He went under surgury and is likely gone for 2008.

Just goes to show, you can do all the right things, have all the right players and sometimes things happen outside of your control that can jeopordize your chances of winning.

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