More Thoughts on the Future

Another popular poster on John Sickels' site, Minor League Ball, named "King Billy Royal" is a friend of All Your Base Are Belong to Rios. Threw him a bunch of Jays/Baseball relations questions, and got these responses. Grab a hard drink and read:

What are your thoughts on recent Blue Jays draft signings Chad Jenkins & Jake Marisnick. Do these guys have the potential to be elite players at the major league level?

King Billy: I don’t think either guy can be an elite player, but both have the potential to be very good. I really like Jenkins. He has a great build for a pitcher and a 90-94 MPH heater to go with a plus slider. If he can improve his changeup he has the potential to be a solid #2 starter in the big leagues. Marisnick, while extremely raw, has tools to be a good centerfielder. His power, while decent, is still developing as he fills out and has potential to be a plus skill. He has good speed which, when combined with his strong defensive instincts, should allow him to be a very good centerfielder. His excellent arm should just add to his defensive abilities. I’ve heard Devon White and Torii Hunter comparisons and I am sure the Jays will be thrilled if he can become remotely close to either of those players.

What is the current view of next year's draft class. With the Jays having a boat load of picks in the first 3 rounds, will there be talent there for the Jays to build up the farm system? What names are popping out right now as potential stars?

King Billy: Personally I think it is too early to determine the talent level of next years draft class. Many of the names being tossed around right now for the 2010 first round class will move down the draft ranks by the time the draft commences [I’m looking at you Isaac Galloway]. However, there are some guys who look to be potential impact players. Obviously everyone knows about Bryce Harper, but who are the other potential impact prospects? Matt Harvey, a 2007 high school first round picks, returns to the draft after his college career. I could see him being a potential front line starter with a low 90s fastball and a good breaking ball and change. Bryce Brentz is another intriguing prospect. He has BIG TIME POWER to go with his amazing porn star name. Both are big plusses in my book. Will the talent be there for the Jays to build up its system? Sure. Will they actually accomplish this goal? That depends if JP remains in charge and whether ownership will give its general manager [Please No JP!!!!] the necessary financial resources.

If you could tear down the SkyDome and make a new stadium, which ballpark would you use as a blueprint?

King Billy: I would use AT&T Park in San Francisco. It has great sightlines, fantastic concessions, a unique look, lots of other attractions [gotta keep the wife happy] and a great view of the bay. Besides, what is more exciting then watching kayakers diving into the water after homerun balls?

Who should be Cito's successor? Are there any managerial candidates in the team's minor league system?

King Billy: Johnny ‘the Prime Minister of Defense’ MacDonald. Sure he can’t hit but who wouldn’t want to play for this scrappy guy!!!!

Yu Darvish -- When will he come to MLB. Any chance the Jays attempt to pay his posting fee?

King Billy: I expect him to come to MLB in 2013. I really doubt that his team is in any hurry to post him, especially when you consider that he has been quoted as saying that he has no desire to pitch in the major leagues. In regards to the second part of your question, no there is no chance that the Jays attempt to pay his posting fee under this ownership regime.

Are the Jays the worst franchise in the AL East? (Current state, future hopes). If they aren't, who is in worse shape?

King Billy: Sigh…. .it pains me to admit that the Jays are now the laughing stock of the AL East [go fuck yourself Baltimore]. The Jays have miraculously found a way to combine bad management, under performing key veterans [see Vernon Wells], with uncommitted ownership. Rogers has made it very clear that the Blue Jays are no longer in their future plans. Until they divest themselves of the team, I don’t expect the Jays to spend anything substantial on free agents, and they will be even less committed to the amateur draft [not signing 3 of their first 4 picks this year is not a good thing for a team that is rebuilding]. This is a team that will continue to get worse, before it gets better. Hopefully Paul Beeston can put a team together to purchase this team and get it back towards respectability.

Richard Griffin thinks the Jays should/will sign Chone Figgins? Should he be their #1 target?

King Billy: Hell No!!!!!!!!!!! I HATE when teams sign aging speedsters to long-term contracts. How many players, whose value is mainly due to their speed, age well into their mid/late 30’s? Not many. Teams are constantly let down by these players [see Rafael Furcal] as once their steals drop off, they are nowhere near the worth of their contract. If the Jays are looking for a third baseman they should try to ink Adrian Beltre to a contract. He would give them a decent bat and great glove for at least 3 productive seasons [not to mention that I love the fact that he will begin each at bat with one ball].

Geddy Lee Replaced?

Know how I know how this is not a good year for the Jays? Minimal sightings of Geddy Lee! While some other franchises see faces like Alyssa Milano, Ben Affleck, or Kid Rock grace their stands, and root for their home team, Toronto's resident celebrity throughout the tough years has always been Rush's lead man.

Maybe I'm just going to games where Geddy is a no-show, but I seemed to see him a lot more in years past. Is it because of the loss of his #1 fan Gregg Zaun, or has this team simply frustrated their lifelong fan to the tipping point?

Hopefully this is just a poor observation on my point, and there is no difference between this year's attendance of Geddy and prior years. But if not, could the Jays be relegated to having a new #1 celebrity fan... perhaps Canadian Idol's Jake Gold!?

All Your Base Are Belong to _______?

Time to bust out the sweatpants Jays fans, the relationship between the franchise and The Franchise is over, with the team inexplicably dumping their underacheiving superstar for "financial flexibility", which will allow the team to.... overpay for other free agents?

So now the most pressing question is, what becomes of the blog's title? In memory, shall it stay the same, or should the band-aid be ripped off, with a brand new player who will own the base? A poll will be up shortly with the candidates. Stay tuned.

A Look to the Future

As promised, the next few posts will focus on the Jays farm system, to at least provide another level of analysis in the state of the franchise. Friend of the blog, "Dewey Finn" was kind enough to answer some questions in regards to the Jays system.

For those unaware of Dewey, silly pseudonym aside, he is one of the better minor league analysts I have come across. Controversial and popular with his opinions he puts on John Sickels' site, his insights unquestionably generate more discussion than any other contributer, arguably including John Sickels himself.

On to the questions:

Q1: What are your thoughts about Travis Snider. Is he as can't miss as they come? We've seen similarly hyped, similar body type guys in the past (including King Billy Royal himself, Billy Butler) come up and not produce as many expected. What are the odds that Snider can live up to the projected 30+ homerun .300 hitting masher he is projected to be?

Dewey Finn: The power is for real, no doubt. 30-35 HR seasons are in his future with that excellent loft in his beautiful swing. It is a very powerful stroke that launches baseballs. However, I personally do not see him as a .300+ hitter. A consistent .280+ average is more likely in my opinion. The strikeouts are a big concern along with his inability to play defense. He's very young though, so I do believe he can improve upon his Ks with more experience and ABs. It would be a shame if the Jays have to move him to DH permanently at such a young age. Hopefully he gets a long look at 1B or LF with the chance to improve, and Adam Lind playing in the remaining position. Bottom line though, Travis Snider will be a major run producer in the middle of the Blue Jays lineup for a long time.

Q2: Much was made of the Jays minor league stockpiling of talent in the 2007 draft, but two of the top Jay picks, Kevin Ahrens and Justin Jackson have really struggled thus far in the low minors. What are your thoughts about the futures of these two players?

Dewey Finn: I'm very disappointed in these two guys. When they were drafted, I read some promising scouting and draft reports on them and was very excited as a Jays fan. Justin Jackson supposedly oozed tools, and Kevin Ahrens had the potential to be a power-hitting switch-hitter. I even read some loose comparisons to Chipper Jones. The optimist in me says that they are still VERY young and are in a tough hitters league (FSL) for the second consecutive year (2008 in MWL - also extremely tough on hitters). Unfortunately, their numbers are downright awful, and its difficult to be hopeful of a 'breakout' anytime soon. It seems they have taken a big step back against more advanced pitching. I definitely think they should repeat the level next year (High A). If there is no improvement, not even the slightest, then I do not believe they should be considered in the long-term plans for the big club.

Q3: I was a big fan of Kyle Drabek when he was drafted by the Phils, but after years of shittiness, and then Tommy John, it seemed that his stock was at an all time low last year. All of a sudden, with good winterball numbers, and a big year this year, the Phillies regard him as an untouchable resource. Is this just a classic case of a team overrating a player? And was it stupid of the team not to sell the player at an all time high stock price?

Dewey Finn: I would say its a little bit of both. Drabek has sky rocketed up prospect rankings the past few months. He possesses an excellent fastball and hammer curve combo that he has used to carve up hitters all year. However, as with any pitching prospect, they carry alot of risk, especially ones with an injury history as Drabek (TJ surgery). I think the problem is that teams are worried about giving up the 'next big thing' when trading. Many refer to the Bartolo Colon trade that sent Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland from Montreal. More recently, the Erik Bedard trade in which the Mariners got fleeced for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherill. In my opinion, Drabek should not have been a roadblock for the Phillies to acquire one of the best pitchers in the game in Roy Halladay. Even manager Charlie Manuel publically mentioned his preference for the 'horse' in reference to Halladay. However, Rudy pulled off a great deal in getting Cliff Lee for a significantly cheaper price. Lucky for him, he didn't have to face the wrath of Philly fans.

Q4: Is Bryce Harper the Lebron James of draft prospects? Is he higher regarded that Stephen Strasburg was at this time last year?

Dewey Finn: Fuck Bryce Harper. Yeah, that's right, I said it. Do people realize how young he is and how little he has proven? The hype machine is operating in full force and I am sick of it. Is he the Lebron James of draft prospects? Well with Sports Illustrated covers and featured articles on ESPN, Yahoo!, he is the LeBron James based on hoopla alone. With that in mind, I do believe he is more highly regarded than Stephen Strasburg was at this time last year. Is it justified? Absolutely not.

Q5: After Travis Snider, who is the Jays best prospect?

Dewey Finn: With Marc Rzepczynski now in the majors, I am gonna go with a personal favorite of mine, and that is 2B Brad Emaus. He is relatively unknown and very underrated. However, he plays solid defense at 2B and has an excellent approach at the plate. Heading into the season, Baseball America dubbed him as having the best strikezone discipline in the Jays minor league system. I believe there is also some untapped power potential in his bat that should eventually produce 15+ HRs. He is probably about 2 years away from being a real factor with the big club, but when he's ready, I think the Jays should put him at 2B and move Aaron Hill to his natural position of shortstop.

Q6: I think the Jays will trade Halladay to the Dodgers this offseason, and I don't think the package will include Billingsley or Kershaw. What kind of package would be acceptable for the Jays to move Halladay to LA?

Dewey Finn:
If I were the Dodgers, I wouldn't trade Billingsley or Kershaw for Halladay either. However, even without Billingsley and Kershaw being involved in trade discussions, I still do think the Jays can receive an acceptable package in exchange for Halladay. Assuming we can only get prospects, I would be pleased with a return of Dee Gordon, Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom, and Andrew Lambo. Although these names do not carry the same sex appeal as the prospects that JP wanted from Philadelphia, these are definitely valuable commodities. Dee Gordon, son of Tom Gordon, is an exciting young SS with tremendous speed. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus made a loose comparison of Jimmy Rollins as his upside. Ethan Martin is a hard throwing right-hander who is still far away, but with a huge potential and a possible front-line starter. Josh Lindblom was a reliever in college, but the Dodgers transitioned him to starting and the results have been good. He does not profile to be an ace, but he is close to being major league ready, and could become a #2 or #3 type starter with 3 solid pitches and excellent command. Andrew Lambo is perhaps the most popular name in the package who has somewhat struggled in AA this year. Heading into the season, Baseball America listed him as the best prospect in the Dodgers system. He reminds me a lot of Adam Lind.

Q7: How do you rate Ricciardi's drafting history with the Jays?

Dewey Finn: I think JP has undeservedly received a lot of heat over the years for his drafting from the media, message boards, and bloggers. Simply put, prospects are hit and miss. Over the last 7 or 8 drafts that JP has been responsible for, I'm sure he has made some selections that he regrets. This is a common denominator for all general managers though, especially the Pirates. However, under JP, the Jays have developed some quality major leaguers, some of which who have the potential to be all-stars. These players include Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Marc Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch. There are some others on their way up through the system such as Brad Emaus, David Cooper, and JP Arencibia, all of which should have futures with the big club. Overall, I think JP Ricciardi has done alright.

A Lull in the Season's Narrative

It's Saturday evening. The Jays were triumphant over the Orioles, and the Yankees are up on the Red Sox, 3-0. There is little else on television other than Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels on The Score, or Crossroads on MuchMusic.

I'm not heading out until later tonight, so it's a perfect time to pull a post out of the blue and put on here. Major problem. Jeff Blair is right... at this juncture, the narrative of the Blue Jays season is now in neutral. The team is lifeless (despite today's victory), and there is little drama in the short term future.

Because of this, now non-stories like this Alex Rios waiver nonsense is now frontpage worthy. Joe Inglett playing left field actually spawns actual debate amongst Jays fans still following the team. If there was an NFL team in Toronto, everyone's attention would be squarely on that right now.

So I've decided that the next few posts will be directed toward the team's long term future... specifically with regard to the team's farm system. The team developing superstars appears to be the only way out of the hole nowadays. With depleted financial resources and an fourth place squad, the rebuilding has to come from within. Look for some hardcore analysis in the coming days. For now, did I mention that this is on Muchmusic right now??

New Feature: Best Baseball Related Twitter Post of the Week:

If you replace "Yankees" with "police" and "Red Sox" with "protestors," the sentence, "The Yankees are beating the Red Sox" is horrible. - Michael Ian Black

September Callups are Coming Soon

So what's there left this year to look forward to for Jays fans?

Answer: September Callups!!! Fuckin' eh!! Let's quickly take a gander at who we might see.

1. Travis Snider - The Tao says he's back and he's mashing some potatoes and eating them with gravy. Time to bring him back to Poutine Country, and get this Babe Ruth Sequel back in business.

2. J.P. Arencibia - So everyone on Minorleagueball, including Dewey Finn, hates this guy because of his inability to take a walk, and it looks like his pitch recognition is still pretty bad in Vegas. But he has power, so let's get ready for the Mickey Tettleton era.

3. Bubbie Buzachero - Just kidding.

4. Shaun Marcum (Pictured on right)- Possibly? Maybe? Perhaps? Toronto nighclubs, get ready, the party man could be back.

Yeah, so maybe this ain't so exciting. Maybe it's time to fire up Season 3 of Friday Night Lights.

Wikipedia Not a Fan of E-5

Much has been said about how awful Edwin Encarnacion is with the glove. So, being the investigative site this is, I turned to Wikipedia to learn more about the newest hot corner Blue Jay. What's interesting is that on E-5's Wikipedia page, there is a disturbing amount of detail about his poor defense. Some highlites:

1. 'Defensively, he makes the difficult plays with relative ease, but botches too many routine ones and, in particular, makes ill-advised or errant throws to first base'

2. In 2005 he had the lowest zone rating of any National League third baseman: .741.

3. His 25 errors during the 2006 season tied him with Arizona's Chad Tracy for most errors by a third baseman and his fielding percentage was a National League-low .916

4. The 2008 season saw EncarnaciĆ³n commit 23 errors in 143 games

BONUS DIG: (In 2007) EncarnaciĆ³n was benched again at one point... for not running out a fly ball

Brian Butterfield and Cito certainly have their work cut out for them. But I think it's safe to say that Encanacion doesn't have one fan -- the Wikipedia.


  • As touched upon briefly in a recent posting, the O's appear to be the next team on the brink taking the leap from pretenders to contenders, making the AL East that much more brutal. The Baseball Analysts broke down the future of the Orioles recently, which should provide some more misery for Jays fans.

  • What's the deal with Survivor contestants and Phillie pitchers? First Cole Hamels shacks up with Heidi Strobel, and now comes news that Kyle Kendrick has hooked up with Stephanie LaGrossa. Are we sure that Joe Blanton didn't knock up Elisabeth Hasselbeck?

  • I can't count how many people are not fans of Ricciardi, but Sports and the City have found at least one author who says the guy isn't the demonspawn that he has been made out to be.

  • With Bronson Arroyo's recent revelations about him probably being on the P.E.D. list, don't be surprised if this defense is used more often. Reason? It's actual true and makes sense. Says Arroyo: "Honestly, I would love to not take any of the supplements I take. I'd love to wake up in the morning and have some fruit and a bowl of cereal and have a good lunch, and maybe take a multivitamin for the day, but the reality is, I'm probably not going to be as good a major league pitcher if I do."

  • Poutini's defeats Smoke's according to this reviewers battle of Toronto's poutine joints.