The Jays have been all over the news in the past few weeks and for good reason. Alex Anthopoulos is making so many significant moves, and playing a waiting game with Jose Bautista and Jason Frasor in the arbitration process, that fans across MLB have been forced to look at what’s going on in Toronto these days. One of the things that has become a prominent subject of conversations is whether the Jays are simply in the midst of a massive – and team wide – salary dump, or whether they are simply positioning themselves to be big spenders in 2012 and beyond. With that in mind, here are a few notes that deal with the Jays and Jose Bautista:
- Matt Binder of The Hardball Times provides us with an excellent piece on spending across MLB in the past decade. You’ll notice that fans do have plenty to chirp about when it comes to the Jays spending in recent times, as they have been above the MLB average and above or at the American League average only three times over the last 10 years. Those years were in 2001, 2002, and 2008 when the Jays finished with 77-81, 78-84, and 86-76 records respectively. The Jays also spent 0.899 (or .101 below the league average) over that span, good enough for 4th place in the AL East and 18th overall. He sums it up with a predictable statistic that has the top 2 spenders in each division making the playoffs 49 times over the last decade, while the bottom 2 spenders in each division have only made the playoffs 16 times. Talk about a direct link between spending and winning!
- With the piece from Matt Binder in mind, some Jays fans are really getting frustrated at the cost cutting measures Alex Anthopoulos has made recently. The Jays were so close to the playoffs in 2010 that some believed they were “1-2 players away” from making a big move up the rankings in the AL East. I can’t really argue with that, but I will say that to sustain such a drive would be unrealistic without having the means to control costs and salaries over a medium-to-long term. Sure, the Jays could get lucky and make the playoffs once with the group they have in place plus one or two players, but for more than that? I’m not so sure that it would be realistic without clearing enough salary to keep – or acquire – the players the Jays need to sustain a winning and dominant period in their history.
- The starting point for Jays spending should be Jose Bautista. He was apparently sought after in winter meetings by the Red Sox, so it tells you something about how “positive” teams are that he’ll be able to continue his power numbers in the future. If the Jays do decide to back of of long-term negotiations with Jose, expect more teams like the Red Sox and others to come knocking for his services. Bautista’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, has been getting more vocal about not being approached about a long term deal by Alex Anthopoulos. Meanwhile, Alex has been reluctant to answer any questions about the possibility of such a deal with Jose. I’m not sure if this is positioning by both sides who most likely don’t really want to go through the arbitration process, but a deal could happen quickly if both sides agree to sit and hammer out a longer term deal. There’s still time for this to take place, and nobody needs to panic just yet!
- Want to become a bigger fan of Frank Francisco than most already are? Look at the 3-year accumulated stats shown herein the Baseball America review of the Francisco for Mike Napoli trade. His stats over the last 3 years make him a very interesting reliever for the Jays if he continues this trend: 11-12 / 3.54 ERA / 165.1 IP / 136 hits / 59 BB / 200 Ks / 1.18 Whip and 32 saves.
- Alex Anthopoulos is apparently very happy with having a deeper pen for the 2011 season, something that brought a ton of success to San Diego in 2010 and is sought after by most clubs. he got the pieces he was after, and now it’s up to John Farrell and Pat Hentgen to figure out how to get the most out of them. There are rumors the Jays could use 8 relievers instead of the usual 7 on occasion, but that would leave them with only 3 bench options – Jose Molina, John McDonald, and one other player. That player better be pretty special, because he’d be tasked with backing up all 3 outfield positions, first base, and third base. Brett Lawrie anyone?
- On a minor league note, the Jays re-signedOF Jason Lanewho will inevitably man one of the OF positions in AAA Las Vegas in 2011. They also signed C Tim Mahler, a 6’3 190 lbs Orlando native (son of MLB pitcher Rick Mahler) who was a non-drafted free agent and played for Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma in 2010, as well as 21 year old OF Joey Hage who is 6’0″ 180 lbs and was last with the St-Louis organization in 2009 (in the GCL and APP leagues). While I don’t have any stats to share for Hage in 2010, Mahler did have the following stats in 2010: 43 games played / 150 ABs / 50 hits / .333 avg / .433 SLG / 10 doubles / 1 triple / 1 HR / 25 RBI / 9 BB / 26 Ks. Other things I could find for Jays fans about Mahler include this article about a key double from him, as well as this profile from Perfect Game USA where they give him a 1.89 sec pop time, excellent arm, and poise when handling the pitching staff. They give him a PG rating of 8, which indicates that they see him as a potential mid-round pick and definite division I prospect. They add that “he is an advanced defensive catcher with upside at the plate.” He’s an interesting signing and it will be interesting to see where he begins his pro career.
That’s all I have for everyone as we wait to see what’s next to come out of the bag of tricks held by Alex Anthopoulos!