Down to one…

RiosTORONTO – So the list of arbitration eligible players is down to just one Mr. Alex Rios for the Blue Jays. On Friday, Rios’ camp exchanged salary figures with Toronto.

The Jays offer came to $4.535 million — exactly a $2 million raise over what Rios made in his first year of eligibility in ’07. Rios’ agent, Paul Kinzer, requested a 2008 salary of $5.65 million, representing more than a $1 million gap between the sides.

The Blue Jays are discussing a multiyear extension with Rios, so the exchange of salary figures was merely a procedural move. Any extension Rios garners would likely be of the four-year variety, which would cover his arb years and his first year of free-agency. Since Rios is in the fold through 2010, the Jays don’t need to hurry to reach an agreement with him.

So, the two sides could very well settle on a one-year pact if the negotiation process really starts to drag on. Neither Rios nor the club will want to have talks go into the season, so if a longterm deal is to be had, it’ll have to be settled before the end of Spring Training. Needless to say, there’s plenty of time for the sides to work a contract out.

On Friday, after announcing new deals for Scott Downs, Marco Scutaro, Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet and Gus Chacin, Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi had this to say:

"The nice thing is we do have Alex here for the next three years and we are going to talk to him and continue to talk to him about a multiyear deal. We’ll see how it plays out.

"We’ve got all of Spring Training to continue to talk and we’ve got the course of the year to continue to talk," Ricciardi said. "But we don’t like to talk to a player during the year and I’m sure a player doesn’t really want to talk about it during the year.

"We’ve got all of February and all of March to try to work a long-term deal out and, if it doesn’t come to fruition, we’ve got him for the next two years and we can continue to try to work on it. We’re putting our best foot forward."

DOWNS: Good ol’ Scott said he was still in shock and in awe of the three-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Jays. Maybe he should be, considering that handing such a deal to a 31-year-old situational lefty with one really good season on his resume could easily come as a surprise to many people.

Then again, in the current market for pitchers (Brian Fuentes wants $6.5 million!), the deal that Downs agreed to might actually be below market value. Downs decided against being a free agent next winter and will now make $2.25 million in ’08, $3.75 million in ’09 and $4 million in ’10.

Ricciardi noted that there was no language in Downs’ contract about him spending any time as a starter or receiving any potential bonuses for starts. Last year, Downs settled into a late-inning role for the Jays, and thrived after the Jays decided leaving him in the bullpen full-time was the best move.

"I think with them keeping me in the same role for a whole season and not bumping me back and forth to the rotation like they did a couple years prior, I think it allowed me to get comfortable and to know the situation," Downs said.

Said Ricciardi: "I don’t see him as a starter. I think it’s a possibility at some point, but with what we have with [Casey]Janssen, who we’d like to have as a starter at some point, and Chacin and [Jesse] Litsch and some of the kids we have coming behind them, I think we probabably just value him more as that late-inning left-handeded guy, who’s still capable of getting righthanders out."

SCUTARO: The Jays’ new supersub was given a two-year deal worth $2.65 million. Ricciardi said he likes having a veteran on the bench for the next two years, especially considering David Eckstein is only wrapped up to play shortstop for one season.

"We like the player and it gives us some assurance at that position. Eckstein’s here for one year and we don’t know how that’s going to work out down the road. He gives us a little assurance in that position. I like our bench and I like our depth. I like the security of having a veteran there. We just thought it was a nice fit for us."

OTHERS: Frasor signed a one-year deal worth $1.125 million, Tallet signed a one-year contract worth $640,000 and Chacin — injured for most of the last two seasons — nearly doubled his pay and will make $725,000 next year. Beyond the signings, Ricciardi said he should have a better indication of how the roster will set up by the middle or end of next week. So, perhaps the backup catching situation will be resolved in the next few days.

Stay tuned…

35 Comments

I am surprised at the numbers for Rios being $4.5 and $5.6 million; I would have guessed higher than that for the 1 year.

It will be interesting to see at what price they sign him for if the deal is 4-5 years.

I’m personally not as concerned about Down’s age as I would be for a starter-since he only goes 50 innings a season and has been injury free.

I am surprised at Chacin’s deal-it’s double what it was last year. why the huge raise for a guy that only pitched 27 innings for us last year and appears destined to pitch in AAA. Although, it isn’t a lot of money.

Personally I like Chacin,he had pretty good numbers as a minor leaguer. In 2004 he led all minor leaguers with 18 wins. In AA he was 16-2 with 109 SO’s and a 2.86 ERA in 141.2 Innings. He was then promoted to AAA and posted a 2-0 record with 14 SO and a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings. His MLB stats are 25-15 with a 4.18 ERA wich is above average. If it was up to me, if he showed up healthy to spring training, Chacin would be my #4 or #5 guy and Litsch would be in AAA honing his skills. Remember Chachin was slotted to be our #3 guy last year till injured. My best memory of him was when Boston came to town at the start of last year, and it was Chacin vs Matsuzaka. I for sure thought Boston was going to win with the matchup, but Chacin out pitched him and took the win 2-1. Lets not even mention how much Matsuzaka cost…
Chacin is only 27, so he still has a little upside on an already solid start. It would look nice with a lefty in our rotation as well.

toth

As much, as I like how Chacin pitched for us in 2005; it’s been downhill ever since. Part of it is probably injury related; but I have this nagging feeling that the more teams see him, the better they hit him. I think he lives by his deceptive motion, but once batters figure it out, they hit him well. He’s also had a problem with pitch count and even in 2005 rarely got past the 6th inning.

If he’s healthy, I’m sure they will give him a shot for the 5th spot, but putting him 4th would eliminate either McGowan or Marcum which isn’t going to happen.

I totally agree we need a lefty stater, particulary against NY and Boston, I’m just not convinced he’s the guy.

I also think Chacin didn’t help himself with management in getting the DUI charge in spring training last year.

Chacin went 2-1 in 5 starts for us last year, so when he is healthy, he can be effective. In reality, however, there are now better choices for the #5 spot. I see him as a starter in AAA that can be called on for injury relief. If he pitches really well, he may earn a bullpen spot with the big club as a long reliever.
He may endear himself with the coaching staff this Spring if he exercises his elbow more in the gym and less in the bar. Wasn’t it Casey Stengel who said, “It’s not sex that wears my guys out, it’s staying up all night looking for it”?

As far as needing a lefty in the rotation, that is not apparent from the stats. Both Haliday and Burnet had a better ERA against lefties by over a full point. McGowan was very good against righties (2.71) but lefties hit him well (5.40). Marcum and Litsch were equally effective against both sides. Jansen was better against lefties but his ERA was so low it didn’t matter, and lefties just killed Chacin (8.53) in his limited appearances. Go figure.

gnorman

ERA is a very misleading stat when reviewing splits. The only accurate measurement is batting average against or BAA. The career numbers are as follows:

Halliday

BAA lefts:.263

BAA rights: .251

Burnett

BAA lefts:.241

BAA rights:.222

Chacin

BAA lefts:.236

BAA rights:.276

Marcum

BAA lefts:.269

BAA rights:.245

McGowan

BAA lefts:.263

BAA rights:.232

Litsch

BAA lefts:.308

BAA rights:.229

Janssen

BAA left:.279

BAA right:.252

Accardo

BAA left:.196

BAA right:.279

Accardo seems to be unique; but other than him that lefty righty thing seems to be quite consistent.

gnorman

Sorry I forgot this. I find the split stat does not really work on the Blue Jays site. The best site I’ve seen for stats is

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/teams/tor

J.P. Riccardi get ragged on pretty hard many, but I really think he did a great job this offseason.

So far he has locked up Matt Stairs for two years at a reasonable rate, solidified the line-up and the short-stop position through signing eckstein, significantly upgraded the Jays defense and not giving up too much offense in the aquisition of Rolen and now he locked up a solid reliever in Downs for three years, signed a solid bench player in Scutaro and avoided arbitration with the exception of Rios.

If he can sign Rios to a 4 or 5 year deal, lock up Aaron Hill long term, aquire a solid back-up catcher, and either add a low investment/ high return arm to compete for the 5th starter slot OR get a solid arm via trade to sure up the rotation I will be very excited going into opening day.

gsumner:
I agree that with a pitcher like Chacin or League, with limited starts, BAA may give a better indication of his pitching than ERA splits because they didn’t pitch that much last year. In the end, though, it is ERA that wins ball games, not BAA. The larger the sample (the more batters a pitcher faces), the more significant ERA becomes in relation to BAA. ERA is not as good a stat for bullpen pitchers as it is for starters, because of the situational nature of bullpen pitching, but for a starter with a goodly number of innings under his belt, if more lefties score against him than right handers, that is a pretty good indication of how he goes about his business out there.

As far as different stats go from site to site, I see no reason to believe Yahoo over the Blue Jays, which is really the MLB site.

Jeff:
I couldn’t agree with you more. Just lock those guys up, and we are good for 4th in the division over the length of their contracts.

One other thing gsumner:
Even your BAA stats prove my original point, which is that the Jays right handed staff do very well against lefties, and they have no real pressing need for a left handed starter. The 8 pitchers you mentioned, using your stats, held lefties to an average of .257. That’s top of the order stuff in any man’s language, and even if you added 3 or 4 lefties to the lineup, I doubt you could improve on it that much.

Now, to be fair, they held right handed batters to a .248 average, but any lefty you brought in would have to be very effective against righties as well or he would swell the BAA against righties. Since the staff faces far more right handed batters that left, even a small increase in BAA against right handers would result in a lot more hits than a similar decrease in the left hand side.

gnorman

ERA is calculated by taking the number or earned runs, multiplied by 9 (for 9 innings) and divided by the number of innings pitched. Total era is a good statistic. However, figure out how they calculate era for splits and you’ll realize it’s not that good for comparision purposes.

I’ll give you a small clue. Take for example, if a left handed batter gets a hit, and is driven in by a right handed batter, which split does the earned run get charged to, the pitchers left or right? The point is, regardless of which one it’s charged to, it isn’t accurate because both left and right handed batters were involed in the run produced.

By the way, you can’t just add up career era’s for 8 pitchers and then divide them by 8 and assume you have a good stat. When you do this, you’re assuming each pitcher has pitched the same number of innings, which they haven’t. When you add them together like you did, you’re giving overweighting to pitchers that have pitched few innings. That is not an accurate way to do a comparison.

That’s why the BAA is more accurate, because it’s captured very simply. If a left handed batter gets a hit, its charged to the pitcher’s left handed split, if a right handed batter gets a hit, it’s charged to the pitchers right handed split. Very simple and as a result, very accurate.

one other thing gnorman

All stats come from MLB, including the Yahoo site. I find the Yahoo site to be much faster than here, simpler to get to and all the web links work.

Burt,
I have to disagree with you, I really think this is the deepest and most talented roster the Jays have had since 93. Great teams are built around pitching and defense and I think the Jays are amongst the top of the american league in both.

Obviously things could go wrong such as injuries or John Gibbons and Scott Rolen could have a brawl during the seventh inning stretch of the home opener, but if the majority things go right (not everyting has to) I believe this team is going to be competitive for the at least wildcard. Tampa Bay does not have the depth this year to overtake the Jays.

There is no doubt that the Angels, Tigers, and Red Sox have very strong clubs this year, But the Jays are definately competitive with Cleveland, New York, and Seattle.

gsumner:
I already know how to calculate ERA. If you had read my last post properly, you would have seen that I used YOUR BAA figures, not ERA, which you CAN average for 8 pitchers.

Which brings me back to my first point, which you have yet to respond to: when our staff has a BAA of .257 against lefties, why do we need a left handed pitcher in the rotation? While you are at it, you might as well tell me where we would get a guy that could match those numbers, and how much he would cost. The last quality lefty we had in the rotation was Ted Lily, and he is making $10 mil/yr with the Cubs right now. If you go by BAA, Chacin pitches well against lefties, but his average against right handers is higher than the staff mean. Since he faces a lot more righties than lefties, that would mean he would likely give up a lot more hits than he would save. Plus, we have Burnett, who is downright mean to lefties by BAA or ERA (better than against righties). So tell me again why we need a lefty starter?

Here is another question (my last, I promise) Would having a lefty in the lineup win us more games than the staff we have right now, given that the payroll would remain the same?

Jeff

I agree that the Tigers, Angels and Red Sox are going to be very strong this year.

New York won 94 games last year, Cleveland won 96 and haven’t gotten weaker this year, so I’d expect them to be at similar wins this year.I’m also concerned about Tampa Bay this year.

From our stand point; I doubt if we get Ryan back until June, and I’m concerned about all the rest of the guys coming back healthy and strong from opening day since we had so many of them injured. I think we’ll be fine in the second half, assuming no major injuries, but I expect it’s going to take that long before we are back to normal.

I think the key for us this year is to get off to a real good start. If we do and have no major injuries we should be competitive with New York and Cleveland. if we don’t we could be in a fight for 3rd place in the AL east with Tampa Bay.

jeffaitkins:
I am glad you said SINCE the 93 Jays, and I can agree with you there. I looked at the 92-93 team in Baseball Reference, and here it is:

In 1993, the Jays had the highest payroll in baseball, and Joe Carter was the highest paid player.

There were 2 Hall of Fame nominees in the starting rotation.

6 of the top 10 all time spots in Batting Average, OBP, and OP+S are held by members of those teams, and their names are sprinkled liberally through all the other stat categories as well.

Until recently, Robbie Alomar held the record for homers and doubles by a Jays second baseman, but he also had 55 stolen bases in 1993, equal to the team total for 2007.

Now those were baseball teams! I always pull for the Jays, but it would be really nice if the team could get their payroll at least into the $110 mil range, and we would have a much better chance of contending. Hopefully this current team can draw enough fan support to earn themselves a raise, but regardless, this is a team worthy of our support.

gnorman

Well, I guess the good news is you finally agree with me that split era’s is not a good stat to use for comparison, which is what you used in your origional post.

I still sense you do not understand averaging though because you can’t average 8 different pitchers BAA either and use as a valid comparison.

The main reason being is that a sacrifice, walk or hit by pitch is not considered either a hit or out in calculating batting average. So although the BAA is consistent and simple for a single pitcher, you can’t add up a number of pitchers with different scenarios and divide them to come to an average.

Gnorm great points about the ’93 team and this years. It’s a good team, but it isn’t the ’93 jays. None the less, I also hope that the city can show a bit more support.

Gsumner,

As far as having a lefty in the rotation I am all for it, however, who is available right now (besides Santanna) that you would put in ahead of the guys we have now ? I can’t think of anyone. So while I personally would like a lefty in the rotation I don’t feel that it is a NEED. I believe the Red Sox just won the world series without a significant lefty in their rotation. Jon Lester didn’t exactly contribute much in the postseason.

enigma

To clarify my origional point, I suggested it’d be nice to have a lefty against Boston and New York. The reason being in both of those stadiums the right field porch is awfully close ( Fenway-302 and NY-281.)

Both you and Gnorman are right-there is no one available. It might mean we really do not contend until either Romero, Purcey or Chacin-or a trade or signing comes through. Time will tell.

On the contrary GSummer,

I think the best thing that could happen for the Jays is a terrible start because one of the major weaknesses of the Jays is poor management.

I am a dedicated Jays fan, but I am also a dedicated Baseball fan. Baseball is a thinking man’s sport about strategy and I don’t see any thoughtful strategies put into bluejays games.

I love to see the Angles come to town with Mike Scioscia or the Tigers with Jim Leyland because these guys know how to manage. They take the one weakness of your team and exploit it. Whether its a catchers weak throwing arm, a pitcher who pitches too much from the strech or DH who cannot hit left handed pitching, these guys will know and take 2 or 3 games in a series because of it. At the end of the year results in the addition 10 to 15 wins the team needs to reach the playoffs and beyond.

I appologize if there are any John Gibbons fans reading this blog (or if John Gibbons reads it himself) but watching him in his after game interviews makes me want to jump through the television and throttle him.

I am not a baseball expert by any means, but it seems that the great coaches in sports are the ones that create a sense of urgency amongst players enough to make them feel like every game is the most important one they will play in their career. Gibbons lays back in his chair after they Jays lose 9 in a row and says “aw well, these things happen, we got alot of injures blah, blah, blah”, its ridiculous. Riccardi keeps in the managers chair becuase he knows Gibbons will do what he says but that is not the relationship a manager and GM are supposed to have.

I hope the Jays go 2 and 18 in their first and nobody get injured, so Gibbons can’t hide behind any excuse other than the fact that he is a sorry excuse of a manager and should not have been promoted higher than a bullpen coach.

wrong again, gsumner:
BAA is the number of hits divided by the total number of batters faced, or something close. You can take the total number of hits for all 8 men, divided by the total number of batters faced, or you can take the average number of hits divided by the average number of batters faced, or you can average the batting average of all 8 men, it all comes out to the same number.

BTW, the left field in Yankee Stadium is 318 feet, not 281, only 10 feet shorter than Rogers Centre at 328. So let’s only count Fenway. If we play 10 games there during the regular season, our lefty would throw twice, at the most 3 times. If he allows, say 6 hits per game, there may be 2-3 hits all season that he may be able to turn away from the green monster. Plus, you have Reed Johnson out there, and he’s no slouch when it comes to fielding. I also take heart from the fact that the Sox, who have played 81 games/year there since 1918, and with their enormous payroll, have not seen fit to pursue a decent lefty. I don’t think it’s Fenway that worries the Jays. They have been able to win some games there over the years. It’s Tropicana Field and the like they should be studying on.

Litsch or Chacin for the 5th spot is largely going to be dependent upon who is pitching better. Even if Litsch makes the club out of spring training over Chacin, if he gets bomb in a couple of start, Chacin will be right back in TOR in no time.

One thing I have learnt about Chacin is to never count him out. It seems like whenever I start to count him out, he did something to prove me wrong. I hope that is the case again this year, as Chacin can be a contributor to this club in 08, just how much is still remain to be seen.

As for the need for a lefty in the starting rotation, it really is about who is pitching better, if they are all the same, then I will give the nod to Chacin start BOS and NYY have lots of left-handed slugger, and Chacin could be helpful. Come on, if JP does not believe that Chacin can help out in some regard, JP would have released him long time ago.

Jeff

In regards to Gibby (whom I’ve nicknamed Abner)you’re preaching to the converted. I think almost all here share that sentiment. I don’t see this team going 2 and 18, though; four of the starting 5 are potential stoppers.

On the other hand in the first month they play 6 against Boston, 3 against NY, 4 against Detroit, 5 against Texas and 3 against TB. So 21 of the first 28 games are what one might call character builders.

They will need to come out of this stretch of games strong and roll into May. If they really flounder, we all might get our wish, sooner than later.

gnorman

Please do us all a favor and go read up on stat averages. I give up trying to point something out to you. Obviously, stats and math in general is not your strong suit. It’s pointless.

I guess you also have a problem reading because I posted right field not left field. DUH

gnorman-One last point

Our little debate started as a result of your claim that comparing era spits was a valid way of comparing pitching staffs.

I’m still waiting for that response.

gnorman

my advice is that you should just ignore this gsumner guy.The guy is simply an i*d*i*o*t!!!who spends his whole life on this blog looking up stats on the internet.Really knows very little about baseball other than statistical websites and loves to insult people because of his own personal shortcomings.Who is he to say you **** at math and reading.

wrong again gsumner:
If you meant right field, then Yankee Stadium is 314 feet, Fenway is 380, and Rogers centre is 328.

It is you that doesn’t know his math. When you calculate averages, you take (hits a + hits b, etc.)divided by (batters faced a + batters faced b, etc) times the number of pitchers. You can multiply each batters faced by number of pitchers faced, then add them up and divide that number into the total of the top numbers, or you can add up the batters faced then multiply by the pitchers faced. It always works out to the same result. Understand now? Can anybody else tell me where I am wrong? I am always willing to learn.

Our debate actually started when you said that we needed a left handed pitcher in the rotation. I originally posted using ERA splits to show that our pitchers pitch well against left handed batters. I still maintain that with a large enough sample, that ERA is a valid number, because ERA wins games, not batting average. You posted that BAA splits are better. I looked at your figures and said, OK, they still show the same thing, that we don’t really need a lefty in the rotation. Yes, our rotation has a slightly better BAA against righties, but Burnett has a better BAA AND ERA split against lefties, and Halliday, McGowan and Marcum certainly hold their own.

You then weasled out, saying Oh, I only meant against Boston and New York. Well, it turns out that Yankee Stadium is only a bit smaller than Rogers Centre, so that leaves Fenway. Granted, a lefty moves the ball away from right handed hitters, so it is harder to pull the ball. You also have to hit a homer the equivalent of 350-380 feet to get it over the Monster, and the left fielder has to cover a lot less ground there than in other parks. That’s why Manny Ramirez, who is an average fielder at best, is usually near the top of the league in assists. Fenway is not a hitter’s ballpark.

My original point is still valid. We don’t need a lefty in the rotation, no matter how you approach it. If you are going to get mad and post insults, please feel free to ignore this post and get on with your life. This discussion is over.

Hi everyone , My 1st post this year,say what you will I think it is going to be a very interesting year, gsumner keeps this blog going lots of times , so i for one am more than happy to read what he is saying, I think Rolen is an upgrade over Glaus , and we won’t get the logjam on the base paths so there won’t be the pressure on guys to hit the big blast all the time.Ian

gnorman:
while i do agree with you on the fact that ERA is a better stat then BAA, i cannot agree that Fenway is not a hitters ball park, Fenway is the the best park to hit in in the Majors. Take a huge wall in left, a Pesky pole in right that is actually 290, not 380 feet away, and center field that juts out to about 434 feet (i think), and you get a hitters dream. extra base haven? no, not unless you hit to center field. other thoughts, Manny Ramirez is not even close to an average fielder and yes, we do not need a lefty in the rotation

Sorry, i don’t get it: Why do we need a lefty in the rotation ?

Is this some weird way of setting up the inevitable failure of Eckstein this year ?

“Oh Eckstein wasn’t to bad, what the real problem was the lack of a lefty in the rotation !”

Ha Ha ! Take that Eckstein !

Plus who would we get ? Baseball prospectus has already told us what to expect outta Romero and Purcey, so we can’t count on them =)

More importantly ! Who might we trade for as our backup catcher that JP and Jordan seem to allude to ? Who’s even avaiable ? Any chance we could get Kurt Suzuki from the athletics ??? everyone of them is for sale right ?

I must say something about the two G’s,

I have never seen two grown men fight as passionatly about statistical analysis as much as you two have.

You two would have been welcome editions to my stats class back in the day, you two would really have livined things up. =)

Dave, I couldn’t agree with you more. But let’s not forget that we don’t know for sure that they are grown men. That’s what I would assume because of their knowledge of baseball, but even a 10 year old can access this site and post logical comments. So let’s all be careful what we say, and try to avoid another comment war.

or better yet…maybe it’s the same person. Arguing back and forth to himself…haha

haha, touche’ freedom fighter, i shouldn’t assume they are grown men.

Kids nowaday are getting better and better at this computer stuff. I just miss the old days when men fought about manly stuff, and not stuff like math; it makes me sad when i see two guys fight over what the last 4 number of pie are.

haha, i hope the G’s don’t mind these light jests.

At im trying to be more clever then rshobie’s oh so intelligent insults where he points out how he way smarter then everyone else in the world … it must be hard for him being that smart.

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