As we approach the big day, the one that some celebrate with feasts that add at least an inch to waistlines, baseball tends to get pushed to the back fo our minds. So, before we get to sit at the big table with all of the fixings, I’d like to post the holiday wish list for Jays Journal as we head ever closer tp 2011 and spring training.
1 – Resolve the Jose Bautista contract issue
The Jays currently have plenty of contract room to make sure that Bautista remains a Jay for 3 years at a minimum, so why not sign him to an extension? With his age, versatility, and surge in power all making him into a veritable superstar, it’s time for the Jays to lock him up for and let him prove that 2010 was no fluke. A 3-year $37 million contract seems like an amount that both fits what Bautista may feel he is worth ($8 million in 2011, $12 million in 2012, $17 million in 2013), and also fits well within the Jays budget. Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays can point to the short performance period in order to get a shorter deal done. If he wants a 4th year, make it a mutual option at the same rate as the 2013 rate.
The only other alternatives at this point would be to go to Arbitration with him, trade him, or sign him to a 1-year contract and let him walk as a Type A FA after that. The first alternative would leave the Jays at the mercy of the Arbitrator and could backfire in that the chances of getting him extended would diminish tremendously. If the jays chose to trade him, there’s very little chance that any team will provide the kind of return that the Jays feel he’s worth. And finally, letting him walk would send a horrible message to Jays fans AND more importantly to Jays players and FAs all over MLB. So, I don’t even see the last alternative as an option at this point. The first two could happen, but the Jays would have to feel that they’d be getting the better value out of those options, and I just can’t see that at this point.
It would be best for AA to get it done well before the players report to spring training. Our latest poll, with 62 votes so far, has the majority of voting fans (32%) hoping for a 3-4 year contract worth about $12 million per season on average. The poll will remain up until we have enough votes to do a review, so make your opinions heard. It does indicate just how important fans feel Jose Bautista is to the Jays over the next 3-4 years.
2 – Find a Closer, or announce a competition
I really don’t care if it’s Octavio Dotel as a FA, Joakim Soria from KC, Rafael Soriano as a FA, or Jonathan Papelbon from BOS, but the Jays have to find a credible closing option. If they plan on leaving the competition open with what they have in place, as they did in 2010, and to have Zach Stewart and guys like David Purcey and Jason Frasor be possibilities within that plan, then make an announcement of some sort to that fact. With Bobby Jenks off the board, and others soon to sign, the Jays have very little time left to plug that one big hole in the pen. Any time you have as much young starting pitching as the Jays have, resolving issues in the pen so that their efforts don’t go to waste at the end of games goes a long way to keeping everyone progressing in the right direction.
A recent Greg Chisolm article stated that the Jays are “remaining patient on ‘pen fixes”.The best quote from the article is the following from Alex Anthopoulos:
"“A lot of times you have to just let things come to you,” Anthopoulos said. “You keep your finger on the pulse, but be prepared to react. I think once you start to force things, or feel that you have a timeline, that’s when you can make a mistake.”"
I’m not sure if that quote points to a posturing position by AA and the Jays, but that would make complete sense. There are only so many closing jobs in MLB, so unless a RP who considers himself a closer is willing to setup, he will consider the Jays one of the better options out there. Not every RP will be willing to go the Bobby Jenks route and join a pen that already has a closer in Jonathan Papelbon and another great option In Daniel Bard.
The Jays continue to be linked to Octavio Dotel, so we’ll see whether he winds up as being the big piece added.
The chances of both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder hitting the FA market after the 2011 season get better every day. Instead of going out and trying to sign some mediocre talent this off season just to say the Jays did something, save that cash and make a bigger splash in 2011. Jose Reyes, Aramis Ramirez, and David Ortizcould be high impact hitting options, while Adam Wainright (vesting option) and Heath Bell – Jonathan Papelbon – or Francisco Rodriguez would fit in very well in the pitching staff.
Please don’t overspend on injury laden talent like Rafael Soriano or an overpriced 3B like Adrian Beltre. Instead, if the Cardinals fail to meet the $30 million per season Albert Pujolsis seeking, jump on him like a dog on a bone. The difference a bat like Albert’s could make in the lineup, on the field, and most importantly in the stands and within TV ratings, make this bid a no-brainer. I don’t expect it will come to that in Albert’s case (it would be considered suicide by the STL front office), but even if the Jays can land 2 top FAs instead, to support their young cast, they’ll be in a very good position to compete in 2012.
4 – Stay the Course and Remain Aggressive
The Jays are headed in the right direction, as you can all see from the talent we’ve been posting in the 40-50 range of their top-prospects. If those guys are the 40-50 ranked prospects, just imagine what’s left to cover in the 1-39 range! I would say slowly but surely, things are looking up for the Jays, but the truth of the matter is that it’s happening more quickly than it should in baseball timing!
Every time the Jays outbid the likes of the Yankees for a player like Adeiny Hechavarriaor outbid others for a talent like Adonis Cardona, Jays fans will appreciate the effort being made. Hopefully this will translate into a few starts in the making at some point, but the simple fact that the Jays are putting their money where their mouths are goes a very long way to keeping fans interested and supportive. Keep it up and I’m positive the results will come.
The Jays were just as aggressive in the draft as they were in international market,as they signed many players to over-the-recommended-slot amounts. That, in one simple word, is – awesome. The Detroit Tigers have landed guys like Rick Porcello and others by doing just that, as an example. If the Jays use this tactic well, and with such a well rounded scouting department, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll uncover a few stars, possibly even a few super-stars.
With that in mind, I can’t wait to see who’s next!
5 – Finally, Market The Jays as Canada’s Team and Visit it from Coast-to-Coast
The Jays don’t travel to the maritimes. They don’t market themselves in Quebec or the Prairies, and they certainly don’t take enough advantage of the fact that they’re the only team in the nation. They have made some moves to market themselves slightly in the West, with the introduction of an affiliate in Vancouver and winter tour visits out in the region, but they still ignored a vast amount of the country.
I’m not exactly sure what kind of promotional efforts could be made, but having some players visit the areas during the off season and having some billboards up would be a start. Add some contests and prizes to send people to games, more Jays memorabilia and store items in retail outlets within those regions, and some investment in baseball within all regions and you should have a lot more interest in baseball overall – and in the Jays more directly.
The country really rallied together as baseball and Jays fans when they won their 2 World Series in the early 90s. Don’t wait for another World Series win before bringing them back into the fold. Go get them now, and make sure that they’re part of the entire process. It will be both more fulfilling and more profitable as a result.
That’s the list for this holiday season! Hope yours is a great one and we’ll be posting as possible with some already written and ready to roll posts, so stay tuned into Jays Journal! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!!