Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Are Playing With Needed Pitching

The Toronto Blue Jays are playing chicken and there are only two birds left in the bush. What is the meaning of this ornithological imagery you ask? Why my boy, there are only two free-agent pitchers with real cohones left on the market for the Toronto Blue Jays left to get… Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Are the Jays running the risk of letting this game of chicken go on too long? Jays GM Alex Anthopolous is waiting for these two pitchers’ asking price to go down. Santana and Jimenez, are staring back, waiting for teams desperate enough to give up a draft pick and to pay multi-year contracts plus tens of millions of dollars to shore up their starting rotations.

A little bird told me that the Blue Jays desperately need to shore up their starting rotation. They have vets like R. A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, plus near-star pitchers who have not lived up to potential like Brandon Morrow, plus rookies and prospects who make other teams drool like Marcus Stroman… but they are in real need of a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher to bridge the gap between reliability and grinding with a little quality stuff to the table.

Ervin Santana, 31, has excellent control and throws heat. The downside is that he gives up beaucoup home runs (career 1.22 per 9 innings). He walks about two and strikes out six a game. Metrics show him to be a 3.90 ERA pitcher. He is dependable as well. His average of innings pitched over 162 games is 215.

Ubaldo Jimenez, 30, also throws heat, striking out around 9 batters a game. He gives up, on average, four walks and eight hits a game. He might be the best option as his ground ball out-rate is pretty good (43.9%). He gave up only 16 home runs last year. His ERA after eight years in the majors is 3.92. His average of innings pitched over 162 games is 205.

Here are three pitchers previously rumored to go to the Jays who have recently flown away in quick order. Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija signed a one-year, $5.345 million deal Saturday, avoiding arbitration. The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo just this Friday. Matt Garza completed a four-year contract with Milwaukee on Sunday, January 26. Then there were two. Bye bye birdies.

So if you like the game of chicken step right up and wait. If you are like this writer who would rather spend his time making up the Jays’ future 25-man roster then look away. This might get messy. Someone’s chicken may get cooked and the Blue Jays may have to eat crow. I mean their goose could be cooked. I know, I know… enough with the birds already.

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  • Shaun Doyle

    AA has a bigger set than I. Of course, if his chicken playing works out, he’ll be called a genius. If it doesn’t, fans may call for him to fly the coop.

    • David Stewart

      Good yoke Shaun.

      • David Stewart

        This is a tough room.

    • Eric


  • Eric

    Lol funny

  • Aeoran

    What does AA consider a “fair” level of compensation for someone like Jimenez and/or Santana, and wouldn’t a team like NYY who are also looking for more certainty in their starting rotation be a preferable landing spot for these pitchers, all other compensation factors being equal? NYY has already lost their first-round draft pick anyway because of other FA signings, and a demonstrated willingness to spend on talent surely signals and excites potential FA signees more than any number of internal reports, sabermetrics or persuasive GM arguments from someone like AA as to why Toronto is a contender his year. If so, the Jays’ waiting game could be co-opted by a team like New York, which surely Toronto does not want to see.

  • Doug Hall

    Ubaldo will be a Jay by Tuesday or Wednesday .

  • Hooey_Plain

    AA has never signed a free agent starting pitcher….he’s traded for them. That said, I really hope he signs Santana. Jimenez’s declining FB velocity and high walk rate scare me.

  • Rui Hanazawa

    I think AA is a good GM and for the most part I agree with most of his decisions. However, I am a little tired of the we are interested, we are talking we are yadayadayada and then coming up short. The main problem and report about our GM is that he typically wastes time in inquiring about players hoping for a cheap deal or at the very least obtain intel from other clubs. Similar to a wishful eBay bidder watching an item for a week and gives up without making a bid because other bidders were bidding past the “steal” mark.

    I read an interesting article about AA’s perceived inquiry and bail tactic. Most GMs are starting to catch on to him. He’s got to be careful and start closing the sale once something is reasonable not cheap. The Jays management team will always say they are interested in all free agents -Darvish, Tanaka, Garza, Santana, Jiminez now a Korean pitcher. AA stated pitching was a priority, he has mentioned a few names and made inquiries because he is interested. I think he should either close the sale for the remaining FAs or don’t bother talking about any names in the immediate future.

    After Darvish and Tanaka, anything the Jays Management team talks about FAs – I’ll take it with a SINGLE grain of salt. After all, “interested” means we “hope” we can get these guys but we will convince ourselves (and to the fans) that the decision was a “won’t” when realistically it was a “can’t”.
    I sincerely hope Beeston and AA can prove me wrong.

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