Pinch Hit: Ted Lilly returning to Toronto?

Ted Lilly returning to Toronto?

Now for something different. In the spirit of the up-coming off-season, we’ve agreed to trade articles fellow Canadian baseball blogger DA Humber. In this trade we sent over BJ Ryan and obtained Ted Lilly in return. Now, on the surface this may not appear to be a fair deal, but DA has told us that he’s also throwing in a player to be named later. Hopefully, he’ll be as talented as Trevor Lawhorn… Onto the article;A month ago, it would be inconceivable to believe, but from all reports I’ve read, and all sources I’ve had in contact with in the Jays organization, it appears as if the direction of this team for next season will be stand pat, trying to re-sign virtually all of their free agents, not add anything else from other squads, and taking a run hoping one of their young arms explodes out of the fifth spot in the rotation.

Let me be more clear of what I am saying: The Blue Jays, with John Gibbons at the helm, and Brad Arnsberg remaining as the pitching coach, are going to make it one of their main offseason priorities to re-up Ted Lilly to be a part of their rotation. The thinking is pretty simple. The Jays need some arms to complement Halladay and Burnett. They have no shot at Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito. What’s left is a smorgasborg of pitchers at about the same talent level. Arguably, Lilly is at the top of that heap, and Lilly has been vocal lately that he would very much like to re-sign in Toronto. He likes it here.

To sign Lilly, the Jays would have to offer something similar to the contract Esteban Loazia received from the Oakland Athletics last offseason (three years, and around 5-7 million per season). If the Jays do this, then re-up Frank Catalonatto for close to 5 million a year (as expected), then re-sign catcher Gregg Zaun, the team will be left with little in the budget to bring Bengie Molina back (much to Molina’s chagrin), and possibly just enough space to get another bullpen arm if Justin Speier finds a more attractive offer elsewhere.

The team thinks that a healthy top four of Halladay, Burnett, Chacin and Lilly, combined with a virtually unchanged offense (aside from the departed Molina), the team should have the success it has had like this past month of baseball.

Their biggest hope is that they catch the preverbial ‘magic in a bottle’ in regards to their fifth starter’s spot. Much of a team’s success for a season relies on a young player (in most cases, a pitcher) to explode and contribute unexpected success and reliability to the rotation. Like the Tigers this season with Justin Verlander, the Marlins with pretty much their whole entire rotation, or the Yankees with Chien-Ming Wang, a bust out year of a young starter is much more of a catalyst to reach the post season rather than shelling out over five millin on an arm like Mark Redman to round out and “stablilize” a team’s rotation. The team is expected to throw Dustin McGowan, Ricky Romero or even Casey Janssen as the fifth guy, and hope that whoever wins the job explodes and becomes a dependable 12-15 win pitcher for the squad, for the low, low price of being a rookie pitcher. So, Jays fans, this will be a very different offseason compared to last year. Instead of a flurry of names coming to Toronto via free agency and trades, expect a few names to depart (Bengie Molina and possibly Justin Speier), and the Jays focusing on retaining their other big free agents. Also expect them to devote most of their time in trying to shore up a long term deal for their best positional player, Vernon Wells, which would probably look like something like six years and ninety million dollars.

This is just a small sample of the quality that DA brings on a daily basis. So head over to his site, (http://dahumber.blogspot.com), fire up your RSS readers and add the feed to your list.

Ted Lilly

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

  • I don’t think that Catalanotto has the type of all around game to command $5 million a season.

  • I think that salaries are going to explode this offseason. With teams on the cusp seeing that if you can make it to the postseason, anything can happen, plus owners making a boatload in profit, and dozens of teams with cash to just burn to make their squads better, inflation is going to be fierce. If Jamie Moyer is worth 5 million, Catalanotto is definitely worth the same.

  • Early

    I think you are off the ball on quite a few issues here. I would be surprised if this years MLB payroll is significantly higher. The higher spending teams should be looking to shed alot of high priced dead weight veterans which would trickle down to all the other teams. Cattalanotto may get $5mil but there is no way, NONE, the Jays are going to spend the cash on him as a 4th OF/DH, goes against JPs system. The Jays outfield of Johnson, Wells, Rios should be a lock. Molina should be back, the $7.5 mil club option was a panic move at in the late winter of 2006. Molina seemed to like Toronto and if he wants to be back take the $5mil that he got last year, which the Jays should offer. Zaun is a $1-$2mil solid back-up catcher. If he plays 110 games behind the plate next year, Jays are doomed. Jays would be lucky if Burnett, Chacin, Lilly(or his replacement) “explode” for 12-15 wins, let alone McGowan, Jansen or Romero. Loiaza has reached the magical 20win mark in his career, hence his inflated salary. If Lilly gets money like that I hope he gets in somewhere else.
    I agree with you in regards to Vernon Wells but the club shouldn’t be as worried as we think in inking Wells to a long term deal. I think they should try to win with Wells this year and if he walks, ala Delgado, and goes for big money the Jays should be able to find another All-Star outfielder in the $11-$15mil range.

  • “Jays would be lucky if Burnett, Chacin, Lilly(or his replacement) “explode” for 12-15 wins”

    You just said in your previous article that Chacin is going to go 15-7. Which one is it?

  • Early

    I said Chacin, based on past winning averages projected over 30-32 starts would win 15 games. I said immediately after that this would be high for him. I stick to my projection and I would still like to reaffirm that the Jays would be lucky for him to win 12-15 games. Jays are going to have to be lucky this year if they are going to make it.

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