That's a Rap

TORONTO – I gave being a Raptors fan a try for one night and it didn’t work out so well, so I’m going to go back to rooting for my Bulls. I headed to the ACC on Wednesday and took in the Raptors-Magic game, which was actually my first time going to the stadium.

We had a good time, but when Juan Dixon is creating the most excitement there’s a problem. I tried to get the J-D-3 chants going in my section, but it wasn’t catching on like I had hoped. I also came inches away from acquiring a free t-shirt, but the concessions stand wouldn’t allow me to have a cap for my bottle of diet coke. As a result, I couldn’t jump like I would’ve been able to with a cap protecting my drink and the shirt eluded my grasp. Ah well.

Had a brief chat with Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi last night. I was actually at the gym when he called me back, so I got some odd looks while I was off in the corner conducting an interview while people headed in to the weight room. Anyway, even though the Jays have been linked to catcher Yorvit Torrealba in some recent reports, Ricciardi said the Jays aren’t going to go that route.

After talking to Ricciardi and Torrealba’s agent, it’s apparent that the catcher is likely to garner a multi-year deal, and probably as a No. 1 guy somewhere. The Jays are fine with Gregg Zaun as their starter, and the club doesn’t want to dish out a multi-year contract when Curtis Thigpen and Robinzon Diaz figure to be in the mix by 2009.

There’s still a chance that the Jays will bring back catcher Sal Fasano, which would give me someone to talk about Da Bears with for another season. Ricciardi didn’t deny that the Jays might have some interest in Mike Lieberthal, but he said Toronto hadn’t realy started talking to potential candidates. That will probably intensify as we get closer to the winter meetings.

Ricciardi said there’s also still a chance that the club may try Thigpen at a position other than just catcher. He’s played some first base, tried his hand some at second and maybe third base is in his future. Ricciardi said that issue will be discussed this winter, so Thigpen will have some clarity by Spring Training. Eventually, he and Diaz will be with the Jays. They both can’t catch.

Also, in regards to the A.J. Burnett trade report, which was slightly blown out of proportion, Ricciardi had this to say: "What’s happening is there’s nothing going on. There’s absoultely nothing going on and people are looking for anything to write. We know we’ve got A.J. for another year. If he decides to opt out after three years, or he decides to stay, we knew that going in. This isn’t something that all of a sudden popped up in our lap."

Well, there’s a little Jays update for you guys to chew on. Here’s some Winter League stats updates:

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Scottsdale Scorpions
Travis Snider — .342, .986 OPS, 3 HR, 5 2B, 10 RBIs through 20 games
Sergio Santos — .261, 4 HR, 6 2B, 13 RBIs through 18 games
Ryan Patterson — .239, 2 HR, 5 RBIs through 19 games
David Purcey — 1-1, 1.59 ERA, 17 IP, 17 K, 8 BB, 12 H though five starts
Ricky Romero — 1-1, 4.22 ERA, 10 2/3 IP, 10 K, 5 BB through 8 games, 1 start
Jamie Vermilyea — 0-1, 16.50 ERA, 11 ER, 15 H, 6 IP

Team USA
Lee Gronkiewicz — 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 1/3 IP, 6 K, 0 BB in 3 games

DOMINICAN LEAGUE

Agulias Cibaenas
Hector Luna — .354, .415 OBP, 2 RBIs through 13 games

Azucareros del Este
Manny Mayorson — .364 (4-for-11) through 5 games

Tigers del Licey
Robinzon Diaz — .500 (2-for-4) with 1 run in one game

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Bravos de Margarita
Ray Olmedo — .326 (30-for-92), 3 3B, 5 RBIs, 13 runs through 23 games

Cardenales de Lara
Ryan Houston — 1-0, 1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 H, 4 K, 5 BB through eight games

HAWAII LEAGUE

West Oahu CaneFires
Brian Jeroloman — .255, 1 HR, 8 RBIs through 15 games

You can keep checking on the Jays playing winter ball at MLB.com’s Winter Leagues page.

27 Comments

My choice for a back up catcher is Fasano, before Mike Lieberthal. We have experience in Fasano’s qualities in helping both the Doc and the Bulldog this last year.

In addition, I think Diaz is closer than anyone thinks-if he hadn’t been injured he would have been a September call up. He is not getting much playing time in the winter leagues ball yet, so it’s hard to tell how his recovery is going. I expect he’ll get off to a hot start in AAA, like last year and we’ll want him up here, by the All Star break.

I find JP’s comments on Thigpen interesting. I expected Thigpen to start in AAA and likely spend the year there, because Diaz has a better bat. I assume we feels Arencibia is going to rise faster than any one thinks.

Hey to anybody who thinks/says instant replay in baseball will slow the game down, i heard Mike Wilner today on the fan and he, in my opinion made an excellent point saying that watching a manager argue about a call, and then having the 4 umps discussing it in a circle is likely longer.

I’m also interested in Jordan’s opinion actually. what do u think should be done in baseball?

I like the way the nfl does it. make it a challenge type of thing.

I would love to see Fasano back next year, and I hope there is a place for him in the organization after he is finished playing. Too bad about Torrealba, but Riccardi has a point.

gnorman

I agree with JP on Torrealba. Diaz is going to be a real good one-why block his entry. I think he’s already better than Torrealba.

In 2009, I expect Diaz will be the main guy and Thigpen the backup. A year or two later Arencibia should be ready. Diaz and Arencibia should be as good as it gets.

sorry for being gone-
happy DIWALI btw if anyone celebrates it

now to baseball

Sign Fasano, Keep Zaun for 1 year (think the deal is over anyways) then have Diaz at catcher.

i think that if we believe in Arencibia so much then instead of trying Thigpen as an infielder let THigpen and Diaz duke it out at catcher and trade the unwanted. This way we got Arencibia coming up and i don’t think we have a shortage of young bats. (lind, snider, rios, wells aint that old…)

Plus is overbay gonna be able to recover from injury and go back to his 06 performance?

Wat’s up with Kevin Ahrens?

nice point enigma with the replays. and like i said lets go with something like challenges i think it will be best.

oh and sergio santos is looking really good, like a power hitter something like glaus (low average, high rbi’s and hr)

Harry

I like Diaz a lot. This year he hit .320 with an OBP of .346 in 366 at bats. Limited power with only 4 HR’s, BUT only 22 strike outs-so he’s a great contact hitter. He also threw out .400 of attempted base stealers and he’s big at 5’11″ and 220 pounds.

Arenciba, who we drafted in the first round and gave a $1,327,500 signing bonus is also big at 6′!” and 210. Although, he didnt have quite the year expected of him in Auburn, I expect he’s shift it into high gear this coming year, since his credentials are so strong.

The combination of these two likley puts Thigpen as the odd man out when Arenciba arrives-but that’s probably 3-4 years away.

It looks like Ahrens had a hard time with the bat, but his defense was solid. THe background on him was great bat, average defense-so maybe he just worked on deefense-who knows.

Balbino Fuenmayor, another signing with high expectations, also struggled at the plate this year.

Let’s hope all 3 of these guys do better next year, since we invested over 3.5 million in signing bonuses between the 3.

The skinny on Brett Cecil

We drafted Cecil this year. He was Maryland’s closer where he set multiple school records and was arguably one of the best college closers in the country. The big lefty is 6’2″ and 225 pounds.

His arsenal as reported by Draft Report is a fastball in the 89-92 mph range and a devastating multiple speed slider which reaches a high of 86 mph, and major league ready.( Randy Johnson-anyone)

This year, Cecil went 49.2 innings for the Auburn Doubledays and established an era of 1.27, with 11 walks and 56 k’s. In 15.1 innings against left handed batters-he gave up no runs and struck out 17.

Now, that’s what I call a lefty specialist.

JP has already mentioned this kid is going to be a fast riser-no wonder. He certainly would look better facing David Ortiz than Tallet or Kennedy.

I’d expect he moves to Dunedin in the spring and quickly to New Hampshire. If he performs as well there as he has in Auburn-don’t be surprised if he’s a September call up next year.

His fastball tops out at 92? That’s not really Randy Johnson material, no matter how good his slider might be….

And, gsumner, did you see that Jordan addressed the Canadian dollar issue in his mail bag?

“The loonie is soaring right now, but Ricciardi said that has no bearing on the team payroll he’s been given to work with. The Jays have roughly $90 million to use on next year’s roster — a similar payroll to last season. Toronto’s GM said the exchange rate hasn’t influenced how much money the team can spend this winter.”

Looks like we got our hopes up for nothing….

hem

Sorry, I didn’t mean his fastball, I meant the 86 mph slider.

If I was Riccardi right now, I’d say the same thing. He’s got to put contracts in place with a lot of guys on this roster. No need to broadcast there’s money available.

On the other hand, there might not be any need for additional money-remember they lose a ton of contracts from 2007

hem if youd like to see Cecil pitch go to the following URL and click on “watch now”

http://ww2.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/events/draft_report/y2007/index.jsp?mc=cecil

You can also check out the draft reports on each player at this site.

So, Jordan, How’s that whole being a Bulls fan going?

Ouch. Yeah, the Bulls played a brutal game last night….

gsumner: Thanks for the link!

AFL update

Well, I did say David Purcey was getting stronger each outing. Yesterday he went 5 innings, threw 82 pitches-54 strikes, 1 hit, 8k’s, O earned runs,1 BB and lowered his era to 1.23. This effort was against one of the top teams in the AFL. Purcey hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last four starts.

He’s now in the top 3 starters in the AFL in stikeouts, era and whip. As he regains strength he’s striking out more and walking less.

Sergio Santos went 4 for 4 yesterday to raise his BA to .312. It looks like he likes playing 3rd base.

Travis Snider’s in a bit of a slow down with his BA dropping to .337.

So much for Posada. The Yankees are insane! 4 years at 54 million??? Do they possibly think that he can put up those number for four more years? I guess it is like one of those arod type deals. He can’t possible put up 50 homers, 150 rbis, and win the mvp every year. And what happens if one of those 10 years he gets injured? 35 million down the drain.

freedom

I’m not sure the Yanks felt they had any option but to sign Posada. I don’t think they their fan would like to see both Posada and A-Rod’s bat out of the lineup.

I’d think they expect him to become DH in a couple of years when they’re out of Giambi and Damon’s contracts.

Sergio Santos is on a roll in the AFL going 9 in his last 14 at bats.

As of today he’s batting .333, with 10 doubles, 5 hr’s and 19 RBI’s in 22 games. His ops has jumped to .965 and he’s 1 back in the AFL HR race, second in RBI’s, 4th in slugging, top 10 in BA and OPS.

Most impressive is he’s htting .447 with runners on and .409 with runners in hitting positions.

Is he just on a roll or has one of the AFL coaches figured him out and helped, or does he just like 3rd base?

should read .409 with runners in scoring positions

3rd is supposed to be a power position, so I guess when he moved to 3rd, he did a complete job of it.

As I recall, Santos is a pretty big kid, so maybe 3rd is a better fit for him in the bigs.

Adams left a pretty big hole in our system, since he and Hill were supposed to cover the middle infield for a few years. Do we really have a top prospect at shortstop in the minors now?

Well, Santos plays short stop, other than that draft choices from 2006. He won the home run contest at the AA All-star game this year.

The two for the left side of the infield are Ahrens-our number 1 draft choice from 2006 and Fuenmayor, who both started in the Gulf Coast this year.

Both had poor offensive years, so we’ll see what happens in 2008. Ahrens should be a good one, but both are likely 3 years away.

Jordan

Could you get us an update on Robinson Diaz? He played one game on October 24th for Tigres Del Licey, had 4 at bats, and hasn’t played since.

Hs he been shut down?

Santos is 6-2/240, and the scouting report on Ahrens knocks his range, and sez he willl likely end up at 3rd in the bigs. Mind you, if he plays behind Johnny Mac for a couple of years, he should learn the game well enough. They say he’ll play 2nd until he proves he can’t, then move to 3rd.

gnorman

Ahrens is playing at short not second. His range limitation was poor footwork which apparently has improved significantly-so he might be OK-we’ll see next year.

My error–short it is of course. He has a good arm, good hands, but his speed is a tick below average, which would limit his range, and is harder to correct than poor footwork. I still say he will make a fine 3rd baseman, but we had better be drafting a shortstop to replace JM in a few years.

I just heard on the news that Bonds was indicted , 4 counts of perjury and 1 count of obstruction of justice . They have proof ( blood tests etc )he took the steroids . What a blow for baseball . If he is found guilty he could serve between 5-15 years
Jordan

Will MLB strip him of his accomplishments?

Well, rumour has it that A-Rod’s back with the Yankees for a mere $275 million over 10 years.

Looks like everyone was blowing smoke on both ends of that deal….

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