Barajas and other notes

BarajasTORONTO – Plenty of Blue Jays banter to cover today. I’m still waiting on word if we’re going to get Rod Barajas (pictured right) on a conference call today or not. We did get Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who discussed the club’s latest head-turner.

As much as many of us who follows the Jays didn’t see the David Eckstein signing coming, we REALLY couldn’t have predicted Toronto signing Barajas. Well, we couldv’e predicted it, but would you have believed me? I didn’t believe myself when my brain pondered the possibility earlier this week (see previous post).

To recap briefly: The Jays offered Barajas a two-year, $5.25 million deal last winter and he agreed to sign, then switched agents and tried to re-open negotiations. Not happy, Toronto said no way Jose — or Rod, in this case — and re-signed Gregg Zaun to a two-year deal worth $7.25. Barajas went on to get a one-year, $2.5 mil deal with the Phils, found himself as a third string by the end of 2007 and became a free agent when Philly chose not to pick up his option. Ricciardi acknowledged last winter that he had "more than a handshake" with Barajas and that the Blue Jays would "remember this one."

They remember it, sure, but apparently it isn’t a big deal anymore. And apparently Barajas wasn’t overly upset at Ricciardi’s comments last winter, because he came to the Jays this winter. Ricciardi summarized it as follows: Jays Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos mentioned to Barajas’ agency that Toronto was looking for a backup catcher and, shortly thereafter, Barajas’ agent contacted the Jays and the rest is history. It’s a $1.2 million deal for 2008 with an option for ’09.

Basically, Barajas is a slight upgrade over Sal Fasano (although I can’t think of anyone who could be an upgrade of Chicago-loving Sal in the clubhouse) and provides some depth for the Jays. Last year, Toronto ran into depth issues behind the plate with Zaun, Jason Phillips and Fasano, thanks to injuries to Zaun and Lyle Overbay at first base.

Barajas can get into the lineup against left-handed pitchers (even though his .233 lifetime average vs. LHP leaves something to be desired) and he can get some added playing time vs. teams who run. Barajas has a career caught-stealing percentage of 33.7, which is nice, but we’ll see how that holds up when he’s working with A.J. Burnett, Dustin McGowan and Roy Halladay. The guys can pitch, but the runners go wild.

The signing also allows catching prospects Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen to stay at Triple-A Syrcause. Ricciardi once again noted that perhaps one of those two could "push the envelope" and be ready for The Show by June or July, but adding Barajas means the Jays might not have to turn to a youngin’ prematurely in the case of an injury.

So, on those levels, this move makes sense. Barajas comes cheap, offers solid defense and helps provide more time for the prospects. Could a better catcher have been found? Maybe, but this isn’t a long-term solution. The bigger question is who will be behind the plate next season?

OTHER NOTES:

I chatted with Overbay yesterday (dude’s a Denver Broncos fan it turns out), and he said his recovering right hand is healing nicely. He’s hitting 5-6 times per week, doing light front-toss sessions. He hasn’t fielded grounders or seen live pitching, because he wants to wait to see how his hand (broken in June by a pitch from John Danks) responds, while coaches and trainers are there to watch.

Ricciardi said that the Barajas signing likely wraps up Toronto’s movement this winter: "I think we’re pretty much done now. I know I’ve said that in the past and things have always popped up. But I just don’t see anything that we’ve had our fingers on that is going to really lead to anything. I think this is our club."

As for the fifth starter spot, it looks like Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch and Gustavo Chacin remain the top three candidates. Ricciardi emphasized that Janssen is being stretched out to compete for the job, but his status hinges on how close B.J. Ryan is to returning to the closer’s role, nothing’s changed there.

Speaking of Ryan, he’s set to throw off a mound on Monday for the first time since his Tommy John surgery in May. This is a good step, and all indications are that Ryan is progressing well and ahead of schedule, but the Jays will be extra cautious with him this spring. Considering TJ recoveries can take more than a year, I don’t see Ryan in the bullpen until May. Prove me wrong, B.J.

Ricciardi also said that Vernon Wells (season-ending surgery on left shoulder in Septemner) has been hitting and running through sessions with new hitting coach Gary Denbo. Wells has full range of motion again with his left shoulder (sound familiar? Scott Rolen, anyone?) and should be OK to go in Spring Training.

As for those contract talks with right fielder Alex Rios, they’re "ongoing," according to Ricciardi. Again, it’s looking like the Jays will settle on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration and then pick up talks on a mulityear contract during the spring. Said Ricciardi: "It’s kind of a two-in-one deal. We do have to get a one-year deal done if we’re hoping to avoid arbitration. The big picture and the smaller picture, we’re trying to grasp at the same time."

That should be enough to tide you over for now. There will be a notebook and story on both Barajas and some of these other items on bluejays.com today, if you want to read more of what was said today by Ricciardi. Who’s counting down to Spring Training? I know I am.

36 Comments

Jordan, im stoked to see the Jays Notes back. Good news on all fronts it seems. and yes Im dying for spring training.

Now the Jays probably have one of the better D in the AL East with this deal. JP has quietly built up some depth to his lineup/bench this offseason. Too bad we can’t add to the pitching side, but netiher did BOS or NYY. So, I guess this will give us a chance at a playoff berth if everyone is healthy and ready to compete.

I am still holding out hopes that JP can add to the starting pitching. Good thing is that we haven’t dealt away any pitching this year (except the forgettable J. Towers).

I am still hoping that Chacin can bounce back this season he makes way more sense than Litsch as an internal option for the 5th spot.

Chacin never stop to surprise me, i still remember him outpitching Dice-K at home last season, he is a good one!

Are the jays talking to Aaron Hill about a contract extention ? those talks seem to have been forgotten.

It’s not as pressing a matter with Hill because he hasnt even reached his arbitration years. Meaning we still have plenty of time to deal with him before he becomes a free agent.

I hope Ryan doesn’t rush back. We have Accardo, so there would really be nothing worse then for him to rush back and get injured, instead of him just healing up and coming back when the time is right.

I have to say that J.P. has done a fine job this offseason however I was disappointed he did not add another arm to the rotation. Jesse Litcsh could probably benefit from a full year at AAA and Chacin cannot be relied upon to be the 5th starter all year. I think with the injury to Ryan he will not be ready early in the year so the bullpen is going to need Casey Janssen.

I would hope the really competition for the 5th starter position would be between Chacin and Wolfe. If Chacin is healthy the job is his and Wolfe could be a successful long relief guy. But I think Brian Wolfe should be given some serious consideration for the position if Chacin is out of options.

I just pray that when Ryan does come back, he is as affective as he was during his first year with the Jays. I would hate having all that money go to waste especially since we have Accardo who is developing into a great closer or setup man. And he is cheap for the time being.

With the Ryan situation this is what i would do…wait for ryan to heal completely…keep him out until july…give this opportunity to Accardo and see if he can produce similar or better results consistently…if he can do that then we keep acardo, sign him long term and TRADE ryan, perhaps we may even get a pretty good/solid arm or bad for him.

If accardo is as good as ryan or similar then we don’t need ryan and trade him…we save money…we get someone good in return probably…and we don’t really loose anything at closer spot…we also take a tommy john surgery out of the roster.

I think everyone might be able to agree to this but it is based on alot of ifs

I think Accardo could really turn into something great if we keep on giving him a chance to grow. Keeping Ryan out of the BP till June/July could help.

What i would really like to see is JP trade for a decent SS prospect.

I think since Colorado has locked up Tulowitski (who should have been ours) until 2014 we should try to get Chris Nelson from them for something of ours.

He would automatically become our 2nd best prospect in the system and he could really solve our SS woes. Obviously Colorado will never be able to use him, so might as well get them to trade him — They took Towers, maybe they’ll want something else of ours ?

I hope FASANO stays in Toronto full-time. He’s not much as a player offensively, but he calls a good game and is a great clubhouse guy.

Any word on Brandon League lately? Obviously he has a lot to prove in spring training, any word on how his off season is going?

Definatly DONT agree with trading Ryan! If the Jays want to compete this year how does it make any sense to take away one of the better proven closers in the game? Ryan has been an allstar the past two healthy seasons, and you want to TRADE him? So what if Accardo is doing well, all the better to have a 7 inning game. The way I see it, if healthy the Jays can have one of the best bullpens in the game, why would you want to take away from that. What makes even less sense is trading him for another arm? Ryan is already a great arm. If your going to trade him you need Major League product in return, because prospects just arn’t going to help the team win this year. Tommy John surgury is so common now, its not even that big of a deal, do a little reasarch and look up all the pitchers who have had surgury and had alot of sucess after as well, one example McGowan. A better question is how they handle Ryan when he is ready. I dont think you can just throw him into the closer spot without testing him in some less crucial innings, let him work his way back into that spot gradually, untill he proves 100% ready.

toth i get what you are saying but if accardo is ready and is able to fill in ryans footsteps then we don’t need ryan.

I didn’t say trade him now. I said wait and see if accardo does get good enough and gets consistent. Last year the saves accardo had weren’t comfortable, there was a runner in scoring position quite a few times.

However if accardo can do a good job, a job that as good as to what ryan will do then WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING RYAN? If we have 2 ppl who are capable of doing the same thing and if we are paying much more to one of them then why not get rid of him. I’m sure tons of teams want him and are willing to give up alot. By another arm i meant a starter…Burnett will likely opt out of the contract. If halladay leaves too then who is the best starter we would have??? Mcgowan, Marcum? That doesn’t cut it. Isn’t that the reason as to why JP was trying to trade rios. To pick up a quality arm that can be the leader of our rotation in the future. We won’t be loosing anything by trading ryan cause accardo can be just as good (remember only trade ryan if accardo can take his place). You point of having a set-up man we have downs, jansessen, wolfe and others. There is no point in adding to an already good bullpen. Perhaps making other positions stronger would be better.

Plus ryan’s salary is pretty huge too.

Last year ryan wasn’t playing but we still had a pretty good bullpen. By trading ryan we would be taking less away from the bullpen than we would be adding elsewhere. Overall the team improves.

Yes ryan is a great arm but can he pitch 7 innings for us every 5 days. No. I agree with you on the fact that if we do trade him, we have to trade him for somone who we know is proven. No prospect for ryan trade! I know TJ surgery is common, but in some cases it always comes back to hurt, aka Burnetts case. I don’t wan’t to take the risk on Ryan.

Anyway its my opinion and if you want we can debate further maybe that will get others going again:). nothing personal.

hope you guys can read it all…i know it s long

Actually, I agree with denny. As strong as our bullpen was last year, we still have quite a bunch of blown saves (I think more than 30 BS all together), so why not keep Ryan, and reduce that number to under 20? How great would our bullpen be and our players feel if we have a closer setting up for another closer in the 9th inning? Our bullpen would be that much better than last season (assuming Ryan is healthy). More importantly, referring back to your trade proposition… a recovering Ryan will not net us an arm even close to replacing Burnett or yet alone Halladay. We would be lucky to get any considerable talent for him, yet alone a top-of-rotation arm, maybe a back-end of rotation arm, but defenitely not anywhere near what you’re hoping for (Rios wasn’t even enough to net us a young top-of-rotation guy), and we all know Rios’s trade value is much higher than a dominate closer (1 inning every game) RECOVERING from TJ WITH a HUGE contract too! Now that I think about his contract…. I’m sure no team would even offer a starting pitcher for him. It would be more like a salary dump.

hayek you know what you are right. I didn’t even think that a recovering and high paid ryan would be less value and there would be no good trades. So then the question is if accardo is good enough to replace ryan and if we get someone like a solid 2 or 3rd in the rotation starter in return for Ryan, who is pretty young then would you trade him? or under what conditions would you trade ryan?

The reason why we are keeping Ryan is because no one wants a pitcher who just came off of tommy john surgery at over 10 mil. But I think we can still use him and that he can still be very affective. And instead of trading him for a starter, did we forget that he was also a started at one time, I am sure that he can go transition back if we wanted him to. But in my opinion, I think he is the best the way that he is and should resume the closing duties once he’s healed.

I also think he should close for us along with Accardo too. Again, if you read the first part of my last post, it makes me lean towards keeping him. But if you insist on trading him, I would only trade him if we got a starter to push Marcum to the 5th spot in return. A young starter that has proved to be better than Marcum, and enough to push him down. Whether that’s realistic or not… that’s another story.

ya i would keep him too but i just wanted to see what ppl would trade him for?

others feel free to put your opinion in here.

Well these ppl should be untradeable/untouchable:

HALLADAY

HILL

SNIDER

WELLS (he isn’t making alot this year and no one wants him anyways)

few other minors that were drafted high but haven’t proven themselves.

what do u guys think

This team is set up to win this year. JP worked hard to improve his depth, he is not going to trade it away. Im not going to debate, because its not going to happen…simple. Its a dumb idea, nothing personal. Worry about our starting pitching when the time comes. Maybe near the end of his contract they search for a trade (his final year) untill then it just even make sense to talk about this.

I agree with Toth, it really isn’t anything worth talking about. Like he said too, if he ever does get traded it’ll more likely be in his final year, or another scenario would be if j.p./some new g.m. decides to rebuild after this year (assuming this one doesn’t go too well).

It sounds as if Bedard will be traded to the Mariners. It also seems like Adam Jones is the main component going to Baltimore. In my opinion Rios is a better value so i’m wondering how the jays are willing to offer Alex to San Fran for Lincicum and not for Bedard ? As much as I wanted Lincicum to be a blue jay i’d hope that Toronto would put a little more effort into acquiring Erik. Is it really just a case of Baltimore’s owner not wanting his g.m. to trade within the division ? If that’s the case get creative and try and work out a 3-way.

While Rios MAY be a better player than Jones, he is by far of less trade value. Remember that the Orioles are rebuilding and will probably not contend before 2010, so acquiring Rios would not make any sense. When you consider comparing the trade values of players… you should also consider their service time or how many years until they hit free agency AND for how much. Paying Jones minimum salary (or slightly more) for 5 to 6 years, is no where near having to pay Rios above $5M for the next 3 years only. As much as would love for Bedard to come here, JP probably already offered what he thought was reasonable. I don’t see how we can get him before (if) he hits free agency because that would just gut our farm system out… not to mention that even if we did that (which I wouldn’t recommend in the first place), we don’t have enough major league-ready talent to even pull it off.

Also, the Orioles GM was pretty sure he didnt want to trade Bedard to a divisional contender. So, even if we had all the right pieces to offer to Baltimore, and I would be against offering a lot, they would just shoot down the proposal anyways. I think that policy is pretty stupid, but thats the way some people work.
Oh and trading Ryan is ridiculous. Why weaken our bullpen when what we’re really trying to do is get Janssen to a starting role. He has the ability to push Marcum out of 4 spot. Theres your trade right there, without even leaving the ball team.

And I think McGowan will be an ace one day. So thatll be good when Halladay retires.

Cheers.

as far as the number 5 spot in the rotation goes which was discussed earlier in these posts, someone said that chacin and litsch need another year at AAA before they are ready or anywhere near ready, i agree with this. that being said, i think the obvious choice is Casey Janssen, people forget how good he is/was last year, people make the argument he was great in the late innings and thats true, but maybe he can be great in the 150 more innings in which case, why not, lets find out. Janssen is far and away the best solution for the number 5 spot. mark it down, i’m calling it, Casey Jay takes the 5 spot.

I know that pitchers often comeback with stronger arms, after going through tommy john surgery. It still worries me that though. Ryan hasn’t pitched in a whole year and I wonder if that kind of inactivity will have more of an effect on his performance than the surgery itself. There have been a number success stories coming back from TJ and a number of failures. I really hope that Ryan does not fall into the later. We are going to need a shutdown closer this season.

Hey Jordan:

The Blue Jays signed Rod Barajas at Walmart for a bargain basement price — a one year deal worth 1.2 million dollars US.

But we shall see if this transaction actually helps the Jays depth at the catchers position.

Ricciardi has finally buried the hatchet with Barajas and told him — “You’ve got to ask yourself, do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” And Barajas responded, “Yes”, so he immediately signed on the dotted line!

I dont think that Gustavo Chacin is worth any effort for us. His numbers over the last two years are terrible…and sure you can say that its because of injuries, but still, even in his best year, his OBA was 340, and he still allowed more air outs than ground outs. For some reason he always manages to get good run support, which is why he has a winning record, but he still allows a ton of homers and long fly balls. Chacin has no place on a pitching staff that means to contend. I’m sorry, but he doesnt have the longevity or the stuff. Sending him out every five games just tires our bull pen out. We should just trade him for some Gatorade or maybe some baseballs.
Cheers.

sorry about my rant, I just hate to see Gus put in the same category as pitchers with true futures such as Litsch and Janssen.

Obviously Casey Janssen would be the best candidate to fill the fifth perhaps even the fourth spot in the rotation.The problem here is that we have a manager who knows little to nothing about baseball and is going to keep him in the bullpen because B.J. will probably not be ready to start the season. At that point when Ryan returns they will then try to transition him to the starting rotation and he will not be as effective and will not be able to eat up the necessary innings as he wasn’t prepared properly out of spring training.Gibbons must go!!!! We have the team to make a serious run but not with him at the healm.By the way:Do not write off Chacin. He can and will be a very effective fourth or fifth guy if not for us with somebody else. Hopefully we do not give him away too.

P.S. I do not see any loss not having any stupid comments and regular insults as well as repetative regurgatated statistics out of gsumner over the last few days. I actually found it quite pleasant to read everbody elses’ comments for a change rather than him dominating these blogs.

Actually rshobie I believe that Jordan has said that J.P. plans on preparing Casey in spring training as if he’ll start (if it wasn’t jordan then it was Mike Wilner). Whatever the case it was J.p. that said that so i’m with you in that if it were up to gibby he’d probably keep him in the ‘pen which is a mistake in my mind. Give him a chance in the rotation first and if he doesn’t do so well then stick him in the bullpen.

Also good news for us jays fans it looks like Santanna is heading to new york…not the yankees, or for that matter the red sox.

On TSN.ca there’s also a nice little story on Erik Bedard in case anyone is insterested

**interested**

What happens with Jansen is going to depend a lot on what happens with BJ Ryan in Spring Training. If Ryan can’t get out of the blocks, they are going to need Jansen in the pen for a setup guy, and leave the #5 spot to whoever is left standing. Maybe Shawn Camp.
Whenever Ryan gets going, the Jays will have one of the most awesome closing teams in baseball (don’t even THINK about a trade)! Remember Henke and Ward? The new edition is going to be the Ryan and Accardo show. If the other guys don’t have a lead by the 7th inning, they might as well start packing up the bats.

I guess you are right but i have no clue who henke and ward are. I started watching when Escobar/Batista was a closer.

To be honest rshobie, I dislike your attacks on gsumner. Sometimes I feel his opinion is wrong but Ive never felt at all attacked by him or insulted by him. In fact, Ive felt more insulted by your attacks him on him, as I feel that it demeans this blog. His “regurgitation” of statistics has on a number of occasions gotten me to look closer at stats and in doing so, I have learned to read stats and learn what they can show, both in baseball and in other sports as well. For that I thank him.
You rshobie, have rarely had anything of value to say, although your last post was good until you used it attack gsumner, although it was wrong when you talked about Gibbons’ plans for Janssen. Thats not your fault, because what you said was something that Abner would do, and JP only talked about Janssen once. I would ask you not to attack gsumner anymore. everyone knows you dont like him, and some people even agree with you. this doesnt matter, what matters here is baseball. Dont drag this blog down.

Cheers.

PS I hate the word blog…it sounds like something that came out of my nose…just a sidenote.

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