Examining the Jays Relief Strategy

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The group of players coming in and players going out defines a clear strategic mindset from Jays brass regarding relief pitchers and their organizational value.

Jumping into Transaction Logs

Taken from ESPN.com, here is a list of Jays Transactions involving incoming or outgoing relief pitchers. The list starts upon AA’s hiring in October 2009 and runs until Jan 30th, 2011.

(Feel free to skip the list and jump right into the incoming/outgoing list, which is right after the following transactions)

Claimed LHP Sean Henn (1981)

Acquired RHP Brandon Morrow from Seattle for RHP Brandon League and OF Johermyn Chavez.

Acquired LHP Zach Jackson from Cleveland for a player to be named.

Agreed to terms with LHP William Collazo,minor league contract.

Acquired RHP Merkin Valdez from San Francisco for cash considerations.

Signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a one-year contract.

Claimed RHP Casey Fien off waivers from Boston.

Acquired RHP Ronald Uviedo from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for LHP Dana Eveland.

Acquired SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes from Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez, LHP Tim Collins and INF Tyler Pastronicky. Designated RHP Ronald Uviedo for assignment.

Claimed RHP Taylor Buchholz off waivers from Colorado.

Declined the option for RHP Kevin Gregg.

Assigned LHP Brian Tallet and OF Dewayne Wise to Las Vegas (PCL). Tallet and Wise refused assignment and declared free agency.

Acquired OF Rajai Davis from Oakland for RHP Trystan Magnuson and RHP Daniel Farquhar.

Announced RHP Jason Frasor accepted salary arbitration.

Declined to tender a contract to RHP Jeremy Accardo and OF Fred Lewis.

Acquired RHP Carlos Villanueva from Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named.

Agreed to terms with RHP Winston Abreu, LHP Sean Henn, LHP Mike Hinckley and RHP Brian Stokes on minor league contracts.

Agreed to terms with RHP Octavio Dotel on a one-year contract and RHP Chad Cordero on a minor league contract.

Claimed LHP Wilfredo Ledezma off waivers from Pittsburgh.

Agreed to terms with RHP Jon Rauch

Acquired RHP Frank Francisco and cash considerations from Texas for C Mike Napoli.

Incoming

Under 30

Merkin Valdez (1981)
Sean Henn (1981)
Zack Jackson (1983)
Jo-Jo Reyes (1984)
Casey Fien (1983)
Carlos Villanueva (1983)
Wilfredo Ledezma (1981)
Mike Hinckley (1982)
Taylor Buchholz (1981)
Chad Cordero (1982)
Ronald Uviedo (1986) – Note: Converting to SP

With the exception of Carlos Villanueva, and possibly the now-converted to SP Uvideo, the incoming under 30 list is a collection of scrap heap arms acquired as throw-ins, minor league free agents, fringe type arms.

Old Men (30+)

Jon Rauch
Octavio Dotel
Brian Stokes
Frank Francisco
Willie Collazo
Kevin Gregg
Winston Abreu

The old man list is a collection of short-term value plays. Francisco may be an exception, although perhaps not. Francisco was bundled with some cash (less than a million) and is set to hit the free agent market in 2012. This follows along the line of veteran relievers brought in for short-term relief and prospective future compensation draft picks.

Key Outgoing:

Trystan Magnuson (1985)
Daniel Farquhar (1987)
Tim Collins (1989)
Brandon League (1983)

The key outgoing arms. All young players, all contract ‘controllable’ for the foreseeable future.

Nothing New

Relatively cheap, short-term incoming arms are keeping the bullpen competitive, all the while fuelling the longer term strategy of building up the farm system via draft picks. Young, Strong arms although limited in ‘impact’ potential (innings wise), are being moved out to fill holes at the MLB level.

From an overhead system view, the Jays appear following the David Purcey formula (converting failed starters into pen roles). The draft followed this formula, as the closest pick resembling a reliever was Asher Wojciechowski, although even at this point he’s still penciled in as a starter.

At the end of the day, the Jays are dealing what the free agent market has shown to be, are replaceable parts (6th – 8th innings). Filing holes and using draft picks to beef up the the minor league system (Tools are the new Moneyball) is paramount. From a long-term perspective, in the AL East, this has to be viewed as a savvy strategy.

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +