Hopefully Vernon Wells carefree days will equate to MVP caliber production on the field. There’s no doubt Wells is a talent. PECOTA has him at .286/.348/.498 with 27 homeruns and average defense and it’s more in line with what he did in 2004 and 2005. You have to get all the way up to his 90th percentile to get the production that the Jays got out of in Wells in 2006.
Here’s a really solid story on Brandon League and his move into the setup role in the bullpen. Good history on the former top prospect here.
This isn’t a major surprise. The Jays gave John Gibbons a one year contract extension through 2008 today after leading the team to its first second place finish since 1993. On the one hand, Gibbons has done a decent enough job in a very tough division but on the other hand, you have the whole Shea Hillenbrand/ship is sinking episode. It doesn’t hurt when guys like Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells endorse you though.
Buster Olney recently had a Q&A with Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay. They touch on everything from batting practice pitchers to how the Jays will do in the AL East to the effect that Frank Thomas will have on the lineup. Good stuff and it’s worth checking out.
A lot is riding on Roy Halladay’s arm. While Halladay probably isn’t the favorite to win the AL Cy Young, he’s definitely in the top five and if the Jays are going to succeed, a healthy Roy Halladay is paramount.
That’s why it was good to read this story about how Roy Halladay plans on slower approach this spring. He’s not fighting for a spot, so everything he does should be to tune him up for the regular season. And hopefully this time seven months from now, we’re talking about 20 wins and Roy Halladay in the same sentence.
It seems like it’s Alexis Rios day. First, this Hardball Times column confirms what we all know, and that is that Rios has a cannon for an arm. According to the metrics introduced, he has the best hold ratio (129) so people are hesitant to run on him. And even when the do decide to run on him, Rios does his job with a rock solid 133 kill ratio. That all equates to Rios saving approximately 11.6/200 opportunities. With 123 opportunities in 2006, Rios saved about seven runs, or close to a full win.
Then, Rios gets a full player profile at Baseball Prospectus. You get a nice analysis of Rios’ minor league stats as well as what he’s done since he’s the Blue Jays. Nice stuff.
Rios has a tempered PECOTA projection in 2007. His weighted mean average has him at .280/.332/.457 with fifteen homeruns but he does have a nice breakout (22%) and improve (52%) so I think he could hit his 75th percentile, which stands at .296/.349/.490.
Kevin Goldstein recently unveiled his list of the top ten Blue Jays prospects. Coming in at number one is rightfielder Travis Snider. Snider tore up rookie ball after being the Jays top pick in 2006. This is a kid who’s worth keeping an eye as he moves up the ladder. He’ll probably start in Lansing in 2007.
Adam Lind is on the side of the equation as he’s ready for the bigs after stops at Double A, Triple A and then a cup of coffee in September. Lind is a guy who could make an immediate impact with the Blue Jays this year and he may even supplant Reed Johnson out in left field.
After that, things take a dip. Left handed pitcher Ricky Romero was the Jays number one pick in 2005 and nice stint in High A, he was only okay at Double A, which is probably where he’ll land in 2007.
Curtis Thigpen is number four and at catcher, he’s just waiting for Greg Zauhn to retire or move on. Then is gets really bad because number five is 26 year old Francisco Rosario, a right handed pitcher signed out of the Domincan Republic way back in 1999. Expect to see him fill a minor role in the bullpen for the Jays
Jordan Bastian recently took a look at the Blue Jays bullpen and it’s somewhat encouraging. You have B.J Ryan at the top of the pack but after that, you have mostly homegrown talent. J.P Ricciardi discusses his bullpen philosphy when it comes to free agency (which I agree with) and I like Jason Frasor and Brandon League as well. Regardless, I think the Jays pen will at least keep them in a lot more games then they blow.
Once again, the Jays won’t be heading to the arbitration table. They settled with their three remaining cases and signed Alex Rios, Reed Johnson and Scott Downs all to one year deals.
Reed Johnson, who had a breakout year in 2006 with a .319 batting average and 86 runs, signed for $3.075 million. It’ll be interesing to see what Johnson can do in 2007 when he gets a full season because earlier in the year, he was used mostly as a pinch runner.
Alex Rios also had a breakout season that was cut short because of a staph infection. Rios signed for $2.535 million and he belted 17 homeruns. He also has one of the best throwing arms in baseball. With Johnson in left, Rios in right and Vernon Wells in center, the Blue Jays sport one of the best young outfields in baseball.
The Jays also signed relief pitcher Scott Downs for $1.025 million. Downs is good but not great but he’s a lefty so that’s worth holding on to him. He did his job in 2006 and lefties hit only .232 against him.
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