What to do with the Slumping Jays

What to do with the slumping Jays

Here’s the deal. It’s only about a fifth of the way in, ok? You need to panic right? Huh?

Let’s look at things in a level headed manner here.

The Jays are already 9.5 back of first place Boston. There is plenty of time left but 9.5 is a huge lead. And on top of this, we all know that Boston will spend the $$$ needed at the trading deadline to improve their ballclub.

In the AL Central, both Cleveland and Detroit are starting to pull away from the pack. Both teams are playing .625 or better ball. Currently, Toronto is 7.5 games back of Detroit for the wildcard.

One of baseball’s oldest cliché’s is:You can’t win the pennant in the first two months of the season but you sure can lose it.

This off-season, JP was given essentially a blank check by Toronto ownership, and was given a budget of $90 – $100 million.

I’m not going to go into all of his FA acquisitions, because I think we can honestly say that none of them, whether it be the .390 slugging Frank Thomas, or the multitude of starting pitchers, or the injured Gregg Zaun, has earned their salary.

One of the Jays largest uses of capital was re-signing Vernon Wells. Now Vernon is a great player, yet his current OPS .819 is what he basically delivers year in and year out (career OPS of .828). This is good, although not great and questionably worth over $100 million dollars.

The $13.2 million dollar man (according to ESPN), AJ Burnett is pitching in a typical AJ Burnett fashion. Good one start, poor the next.

No one could foresee an injury to BJ Ryan, although his handling can easily come into question. (why did he forgo a minor league rehab stint before the start of the 2007 season?)

Troy Glaus and his $11 million salary has been great, when he’s been in the line-up. It’s apparent to all however, that he is far from 100% at the current moment. The player traded for Glaus, Orlando Hudson, continues to produce gold glove defense, and is amongst the leaders in the majors with 27 RBI (vs 14 for Glaus), all at a salary of $3.9 million.

Aside from my typical standpoint on JP and his poor monetary moves, let’s ask another question:

What should the Jays do at this current point?

  • I personally would not mind a youth movement. With that said, the minor league system is in shambles. A trade or two could turn that around. Glaus isn’t getting any younger and he should net a high level prospect in return, giving the Jays some much needed youth and freeing up over $10 million in salary.
  • Along with that, I’d bite the bullet and cut Zambrano, Towers, and Ohka. To replace them, I’d move Jannssen into the rotation (which the Jays appear to finally be doing), let McGowan stay in up for the entire season and call-up a young reliever or two into the pen.
  • Reed Johnson would be dealt when healthy, hopefully for a SS prospect that may be able to start—and leadoff—come 2008. This trade would again cut salary, and it would give Adam Lind the opportunity to play everyday for the remainder of the 2007 season.
  • Much like the Orioles and Indians, I would add bullpen depth through the free agent market. A good reliever can run close to $4 million per season. Some feel this is expensive but a solid IP is a solid IP. The $4 million reliever can pitch 70 IP of 3 3.50 ERA baseball. A starter that throws 180 IP of 3 – 3.50 ERA ball is almost a $15 million commodity in today’s market (ex: Schmidt, Zito). An added arm that can close (such as outgoing Speier) in a pinch is also a nice commodity, as no one knows how League would perform under the role.

Come 2008, with this plan I would field a line-up of;

C: Zaun/Thigpen Platoon
1B: Overbay
2B: Hill
SS: Added prospect
3B: FA, Trade or Prospect
OF: Wells, Rios, Lind
DH: Thomas

SP: Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Jannssen, Chacin (with possibility of adding FA arm)
Bullpen: Ryan, League, Frasor, Accardo, Downs, FA

Would this team be any better than the current club. It depends on the prospects and FA’s brought in, but in the worst case scenario, trading out Glaus & Johnson would add some much needed high level depth in the minor league system.

What would you do with the current situation? Would you continue to grind it out this season or gear up towards the future?

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10 replies on “What to do with the Slumping Jays”
  1. says: Callum

    Your article mirrors my thoughts exactly. JP Ri(shitty) mentioned today that McGowan will be in the rotation for the rest of the season which is a good move I think. I think O-Dog might be a free agent at season’s end and he loves Toronto. Perhaps he would come back and the Jays could move A-Hill over to short?

  2. says: Callum

    Speaking of the minor league system being in shambles, Keith Law brings up a good point. When was the last time the Jays developed a good pitcher? It would have to be Roy Halladay… nearly a decade ago. And there is NOTHING in the pipeline, JP deserves the axe for gutting the minor league system and for that reason alone.

  3. says: Kman

    Law must be reading his mop up duty, I’ve been preaching that one for a while now. BTW, wasn’t Keith Law at the helm for many of those years?

    Yet he’s correct. Halladay is the only thing they’ve come up with, and they gave up on Carpenter & traded Bush.

    Just for fun, when JP drafted future HOF Russ Adams 14th in 2002, within the next 15 picks he missed these Aces:

    Scott Kazmir (15th)

    Cole Hamels (17th)

    Matt Cain (25th)

    All three were high school arms with high potential. But JP doesn’t “swing” that way, instead opting for a “safe” college pick…


    The farm & the minor league system as a whole isn’t really of any use to JP. He basically uses the draft to fill holes by drafting players that he thinks are close to major league ready. This usually eliminates guys with upward potential and high ceilings.

    Hell, who cancels a minor league team for cost savings, then turns around and spends millions upon millions in the FA market?

    The harsh reality is this; JP isn’t going anywhere unless he himself chooses to jump ship. More of the same in store for Blue Bird fans.

    I’m in the minority but I see it as this. I would rather be a fan of a team like the Indians, who sucked for a good portion of the 2000’s, that at least had a plan set in place to build up for a run by drafting & scouting well, putting quality coaches in the minors (three coaches of the year at AAA in the past ten with Wedge, Skinner & Brown), locking up players to long term deals in the pre-arb stage, and trading veterans for young talent (numerous deals).

    JP is under the impression that he can make a run each and every season, and aquires players in the FA or through trades to meet that end, all the while forgoing growing quality talent from within. JP seems to take the opposite route, wanting to deal guys like Bush for older talent, brining in a big bat like Glaus at the expense of young talent + $7 million in payroll and asking for the world for other talent (those Rios rumors with the Jays wanting Hamels+other or the half of the Dodgers system were crazy). I just can’t see this changing…

  4. says: Early

    The trades and signings are baseball moves. We can sit here with hindsight and judge the moves. However, with what seems to be BJ Ryan’s emergency surgery today boggles my mind and I now agree the JP’s time is up and I suspect he will step down. On his own show yesterday, he was asked “How is progress with Ryan.” JP says he had “No News”. Meanwhile news cracks this afternoon that Ryan was in Cincinnati having ligament replacement surgery. If JP doesn’t know that Ryan is having surgery as he said, he has to sort out his staff, fire whoever snuck Ryan across the border to have his operation.

    This is a sinking ship time to throw the Captain overboard.

  5. says: Early

    Kman, even leaving out all the questionable trades, drafts, minor league system etc. Experts were still picking this team to win upwards of 90 games and possibly contend for a playoff spot. If this team finishes like it has started, it will be one of the biggest let downs in ML history.

  6. says: Kman

    Early: “Kman, even leaving out all the questionable trades, drafts, minor league system etc.”

    So, basically let’s avoid everything a GM is suppossed to do, ie draft well, trade well, build a system & let’s not leave out FA signings. So if JP is off the hook for all of those qualities, what’s left? Used cars?

    Experts make bad picks all day long, and to be honest with ourselves, do the experts really know any more than we do? Sure, they get inside access but at times that can cloud issues just as much as it can clear them up.

    Now I don’t listen to the fan 590 Blue Jays propaganda (keeping it happy-go-lucky so they can have access to players, managers, gm, etc), so I may be off base here. The writing was clearly on the wall for this club, as one of the issues we touched on multiple times in the off-season was the lack of depth. Injuries happen to every club, so did the Jays have the depth to back this up? Well, if Zambrano, Ohka, Jason Smith, and company can be considered MLB ready backups…

    Back to Callum’s first point about the pitching depth, the only guy with a shot emerging to become a decent starter at this point is McGowan. Guess who drafted him. I’ll give you a hint, he was a 1st rounder out of (gasp) high school.

    Time for JP to go back to selling used cars. He’d make a killing with the way the fans & media around the Jays have bought into lie after lie and promise after promise. No offense here Early, but it appears you and your fellow 590’ers are content with driving Lemon’s off the lot each season.

  7. says: Early

    Kman, I am not saying that I approve of Riccardi’s track-record at all. Experts and non-experts alike, yourself included expected more out of this club. The Fan 590 has already alienated the Maple Leafs, no Leaf has been interviewed in years and they were only getting sarcasm towards the end of the year from Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. The Fan 590 crew has been extremely negative in the last week over how JP has handled the lying situation, calling for his resignation or dismissal. Let’s remember that McCowan, Landry, Stelleck, Swirsky and Riccadi all get paycheques signed by Uncle Ted.

  8. says: Kman

    I personally equate listening to the Fan 590 as I would listening to one of GW’s speeches or addresses. The company line will be towed at all times.

    In my final summer at the McKenzie ballpark, the Fan 590 was on essentially all day. The love for JP, and the automatic backing of any move from Toronto management, was to be frank, disgusting. Trade after trade, FA signing after FA signing was greeted with World Series parade plans and the hosts searching for ways to get JP elected Prime Minister.

    If they’ve come around in the past week, than kudos. However, that does not eliminate the past five and a half year love fest that’s been going on. I don’t need a network to be overly negative, yet a question here or there as oppossed to a blank cheque of optimism would be appreciated.

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