BJ Ryan and the Baltimore Orioles

The Toronto Blue Jays signed closer BJ Ryan in the off-season to a 5 year contract, paying a total of $47 million. The team that lost Ryan received a compensary first round selection in this year’s amateur draft. They also replaced Ryan will Chris Ray, a player earning the league minimum. Here are a few of their stats;
















Individual statistics aside, the closers job is simple. He is placed in the game when his team has a lead, and he is expected to hold these lead. With this in mind, BJ Ryan has saved 35 games and blown only 4. Chris Ray has saved 33 games and blown 5. Not much of a difference, is it? Now, a closer can’t create his own save opportunities and he shouldn’t be punished for the amount of save situations that he pitches in. But when looking at stats like these, or stats from other major league closers, for example, Todd Jones, who has a 4.10 ERA and has converted 36 saves and only blown 4, absolutely dominating the opposition is not a requirement of being a major league closer. It’s certainly nice to have, but again, the main objective is to close the game out.


Statistics don’t account for the psychological value of a solid. In recent history, the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees have been able to shorten the game with their strong bullpens.

I’m sure if you asked fans of the Atlanta Braves this earlier in the season they would agree with the psychological effect of having a good closer. After his recent success, the Braves rewarded Bob Wickman for to a $6 million extension for next season.

I personally think that there is no reason to spend over $5 – $6 million dollars for a closer, unless you are a legitimate playoff contender that also happens to play in a big market. The Jays are currently neither, until they leap frog the top two in the AL East. Even if they do make a few changes and challenge for a playoff spot next season, a large majority of their payroll will be going towards the closers role over the next few seasons. BJ Ryan averages over $9 million over the course of his contract. Even worse, his contract is back loaded. Chris Ray, on the other hand, will make approximately $350,000 a season for the next two seasons before he is eligible for arbitration. This leaves the Orioles free to spend their salary savings on an everyday player or a competent starting pitcher.

The Baltimore Orioles have to be pleased with their current situation, gaining a draft pick and saving over millions in salary over the few seasons, for essentially the same production.

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18 replies on “BJ Ryan and the Baltimore Orioles”
  1. says: Early

    What the Jays get in Ryan is not just a closer but a great releif pitcher. Ryan is of All-Star pedigree something they didn’t have in Frasor or Aqualino Lopez or O’s get in Chris Ray(yet). A pitcher with alot of saves is not always a great releif pitcher. Of the 19 players who have more than 25 saves Ryan ranks 2nd in IP but has faced the 6th fewest batters, he is 3rd in WHIP, 2nd in ERA. Great stats but Ryan is actually better in non-save appearances than he is in the closer role — in 23 appearances he has an ERA of 0.98 and a WHIP of 0.43! Better than Todd Jones or even F-Rod. Someone like Todd Jones is comparable in SV/SVO but is not as good a relief pitcher. Ryan, like most closers is usually brought in the 9th or extra innings in a tie game. The Jays are a ML best 7-1 in extra innings this year, a big part is for Ryan’s non-save appearances.

  2. says: Kman

    I can get a good relief pitcher for $2 – $3 mill. Saying he’s 2nd in AL IP for is misleading, as he’s at 69.1, K-Rod is at 69.0 and most closer are around 60. Even with the 69.1 IP, that extra buffer can be filled in by a cheaper middle reliever. Plus, he’s only 1 man, if he gets hurt say goodbye to $9.4 million a year (on average). I’d rather hedge my bets with a three good releif pitchers for about $10 million, get my 215+ innings out of them and protect myself against injury than pay one player BJ’s kind of money, particularly when I’m a small – medium market team with holes up the middle, and starting pitching that goes 2-3 deep, such as the Blue Jays.

    Ryan’s Salary:

    2007: $5 Million
    2008: $10 Million
    2009: $10 Million

    Speier will be a free agent this off-season, he will command something similar to Bob Howry’s recent contract (3 years, $12 million). Let’s say he gets $3.5 over the next three seasons.

    Jays Cost:

    2007: $8.5 million
    2008: $13.5 million
    2009: $13.5 million

    That’s a lot of money for a good back end of the bullpen. If league can take over the set-up role than great, but that leaves the Jays with little else in the bullpen and in the system. The bottom line is Ryan’s huge contract is going to force the Jays into A: spending way too much money on their bullpen or B) having Ryan and a number of replacement level pitchers around him in the pen.

    Either way, this is not a good scenario for the Toronto Blue Jays.

  3. says: daperman

    Justin Speier is a Miguel Batista in waiting. Better save the $3.5 on Speier and give it to another Accardo and three others. Speier for all intents is a replacement level pitcher.

  4. says: Callum

    Relief pitchers are wayyyyyyyyyyy too unpredictable, which is why BJ gets the big bucks, because you know what you are going to get. As far as Baltimore being “pleased about their current situation”, I am not so sure. If you have a stud in waiting, that is what teams do… like Philly lets Thome walk to bring up Howard and Minnesota tells Guardado to beat it because Nathan is waiting in the wings. Due to JP’s mediocre drafts, they don’t have a closer waiting in the wings. But would Baltimore switch places with the Jays? You bet. While the Jays may be paying BJ in the neighbourhood of $10mil, they don’t have to get a guy like Russ Ortiz and pay him $8mil.

  5. says: Kman

    To Cal:

    Just because the Orioles screwed up on Ortiz doesn’t mean they’d trade a minimum salary situation in Ray for BJ Ryan. Ortiz for Ryan, sure, but there’s no way there giving up $9 million a season. If that was the case, they would have made a strong play to resign him instead of let him walk.

    To Daperman:

    Right off the bat, this season Speier has a 15.9 VORP, Accardo has a 3.5. VORP is pretty much a useless stat for middle relief pitchers, but it is what it is. Anways, over the past two seasons, Speiers ERA is;

    2005: 2.57
    2006: 2.90

    He hasn’t had an ERA over 4.00 in four seasons and has an overall career ERA of 4.02, which is pretty good when you consider that he played three seasons in Colorado.


    Has an even ERA in both San Fran and Toronto, 4.91. A prospect, but an old one at 25 this december. The rest of the Jays bullpen, outside of League has been fairly weak this season.

    I think that Speier is certainly well above replacement, is 7th in baseball in holds and has a proven track record of being a consistent relief pitcher, something that the Jays badly need with the rest of the youth/mlb inexperience in the bullpen.

    : Getting back to my point, the Jays are in the position where they are going to have to pay about $14 – $15 million for the back three in their bullpen. Unless they can get somebody in a trade or on the cheap in the next year or two, they are going to pay the price in $$$ or wins.

  6. says: Early

    “Jays bullpen, outside of League has been fairly weak this season” I hope you are excluding Ryan – there is little to argue that he didn’t have a fantastic season regardless of his paycheque. And you seem to contradict yourself when you follow that phrase with, “I think that Speier is certainly well above replacement”…clarification…weak season or strong? The Jays at the start of the season were ready to put Spier, Schoenweis and Downs infront of Ryan for the combined price near $6 mil, that fell apart. Speier is already making $2.25mil, I cannot see him getting a raise. Even if he is above replacement the role he plays can be filled by a $350,000 player much easier than Ryan’s role or a middle infielder. League is going to be the 8th inning man next year, he is a hard thrower and has Ryan to pick him up – he will have confidence in himself and the rotation will have confidence. Accardo and co. are nothing more than Mop Up Duty. I invite you to look at the page for Speier and the picture you see at the bottom explains it all.

  7. says: Callum

    K, it doesn’t matter what Speier’s ERA is. ERA doesn’t take into consideration that Speier loads the bases up to have BJ come in and shut the opposition down for 2 innings.

    and in regards to your comment, I don’t mean that they would trade BJ for Chris Ray, I mean they would trade their sub .500 record for the Jay’s record, especially since they have nearly identical payrolls. Really, it doesn’t matter if the Orioles have Ray or the submarining Daperman closing, because they aren’t going to win many games.

  8. says: Early

    Another thing about Speier, he may have a 2.90 ERA this season, that translates into 16 ER out of 17 R. However, he has given up 29 RBIs. The Jays ERA with him on the field is 5.37…YIKES. Definitly not a vateran picking up his young teamates.

  9. says: Callum

    Basically what gets me about this article is that it implies the Orioles are so savvy for letting BJ go since they have Chris Ray. They have a Rookie of the Year candidate that they happened to fall into this year to fill the void AND they save millions AND they get a sandwich pick (we’ll see how that one turns out). The Jays were serious contenders this year and picked to win the AL East by your boys at SI. I think the value of BJ over Miguel Batista (who makes 5mil) is significant when you are a contending team, especially when nearly half of BJ’s saves are over 1 inning. You are getting extra bang for your buck since he is doing the job of a setup man as well. If you want to win games, you gotta spend the ca$h. Guys get hurt, you deal with it and that is what hurts the Jays is lack of depth. But spending the money on 3 replacement level guys and expecting them to do the same job as one super-stud is foolish. If you want to know how well a team can do with a bullpen full of minimum salaried players, you need look no further than the Cleveland Indians.

  10. says: Kman

    Earl: It’s pretty obvious when I’m playing up Ryan and Speier that they, along with League have had good years. Those 3 have been good, the rest? Not so good. Speier will earn $3.5+. There is no way that he’ll earn under $3. None! Can Speier be replaced by a $350,000 easier than Ryan? Of course, but then again, Speier is making $2.25, not $9.4 on average.

    Callum: How is Speier loading them up? He has a 1.31 Whip. Not great, but not the worst in the world. Hell, that’s the exact same Whip as your golden boy AJ Burnett. Maybe we should have BJ come in and save his ass in the 3rd or 4th inning…

    Now for trading their record for the Jays, of course. But I don’t see how the rest of the team’s mismangement has anything to do with letting Ryan go. In the real world, the Jays and the Orioles are on even playing fields;

    Orioles = 68 Wins
    Jays = 82 Wins

    Orioles = No Playoffs
    Jays = No Playoffs

  11. says: Kman

    Look no further than Cleveland? Who’s made the playoffs in the past ten seasons? Who had the best bullpen ERA last season with “washed up, replacement level” guys like Wickman, Rhoades, Howry, and company. Give me a break. Just cause SI is stupid doesn’t give me any solace. The Jays had no chance with 1 starter, and a pitcher in AJ who averages 24 games a season (never won more than 12 in a season, despite pitching over 200IP twice). Hell, Pittsburgh has a solid bullpen and they suck! But they’re not wasting a ton of money on it. Take away K-Rod and the Angels still have a nasty bullpen at a “replacement” level cost, same thing with taking Nathan away from the Twins. Same thing with taking Hoffman away from the Padres, same thing with taking Gagne away from the Dodgers, etc,etc,etc. BJ is no closer/set-up man wrapped in one with under 70IP so far this season, either. Three pitchers around 3.00 will get you a strong 215+ IP, one BJ, one league and a collection of bums are going to average out to about 3.00 ERA anyways. Hedge the bet, and save yourself in case of injury. Also, if BJ starts to bum it up, have fun trading that contract…

  12. says: Kman

    Back for more.

    Earlman, you quote that Speier has a poor Inheirted runners/scored ratio. Very true. But how much have any of these runs mattered? Not much it appears, as he has only blown three leads all season. Golden boy BJ Ryan? Blown four. Replacement level bum!

  13. says: Early

    I never said Justin Speier is replacement level. I do beleive his worth is overrated regardless of salary. For a team to win the pen has to not only hold the lead but keep them close when they are down. It would be nice for the pen to equal out all the wins they lost for Doc by taking some losses away from Lilly and Towers. Jays had some questions in their starting pitching this year. Lily, Marcum, Janssen, Towers all had some abominable starts. Jays found themselves down often 6-2 in the early going. By the time is Speier-Time the Jays have gotten close say down 9-7 a veteran Speier comes on the to pick up the pieces and low and behold closes the 7th with the Jays down 11-7 that is how “these runs matter”. Jays bullpen didn’t get any wins. The last Speier-like middle releiver the Jays had was Quantrill, Quantrill would win games, Speier doesn’t win games he does save the losses for his starters.

  14. says: Kman

    How can Speier save the loses for games when his teams already behind? It’s the AL, he doesn’t get to hit. He’s technically a set-up man, and in that role he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, holding 22 and only blowing 3.

  15. says: Kman

    Can’t get enough. The Orioles selected Pedro Beato with the 37th overall pick, compenstation for Ryan. Rotowire;

    “Beato went 3-2, 3.63 for Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League, with a 52/23 K/BB ratio in 57 innings. He posted a 2.79 ERA in his last 10 starts.”

    Pretty savvy…

  16. says: Kman

    Rome wasn’t built in a day. He’ll start in High A next season, and probably move up to at least AA by the end of the year. Give it a couple of years and he may be in the bigs, if the Orioles studly rotation has room. (Studly in the future, not now)

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