Weekly Round Up : Jan. 25 - 31

A must read authored by bullpen hopeful Dirk Hayhurst.  Rock solid stuff.  

“When you have a passion for something, it’s easy to find the time to do it well,” I once heard him say.  How do you replace that kind of leader?  A year of baseball in Toronto minus the Doctor.....I still can't talk about it yet.  I really can't.

Paxton Affair Update:

The good Canadian boy filed his appeal as expected on Wednesday.  His lawyer, Rick Johnson, is certainly earning his $300 an hour wage on this one.  Check out these quotes.

"They're engaged in extortion," Johnson said. "They won't let you play – even though you're eligible to play – until you talk to somebody they can't make you talk to."

"What is happening to James is a travesty, but this case has larger ramifications for the 360,000 or so student-athletes who ... have been misinformed that they have no rights and must submit to NCAA Gestapo tactics under the direction and approval of their colleges and universities," said Johnson in an interview with the Kentucky Herald on Wednesday.

He claims the NCAA can't annul Paxton's eligibility without direct evidence he has broken a rule, and that UK can't force a meeting with outside investigators.  Wow.  This guy actually believes this stuff.  I got some direct evidence for ya Rick.

On Thursday it was reported, his appeal was granted.  The court agreed that its next available three-judge motions panel available after Feb. 8 would consider Paxton's request. UK has until Feb. 8 to file a response to the request.

In the past I have used the terms clusterfuck and shitshow separately to describe this craziness.  But I'm starting to wonder if it is actually possible to have a shitshow clusterfuck.  Or would it be clusterfuck shitshow?  Either way, I think this thing is headed in that general direction.  I'm starting to see why Beeston walked away from this one.  

Courtesy of CBS Sports fantasy news: 

Blue Jays add more spring invitees Updated 1/27/2010

News: The Blue Jays added the following farmhands to the non-roster spring training invites list: 1B David Cooper, 2B Brad Emaus, C Matthew Liuzza and pitchers Zachary Stewart and Daniel Farquhar. They also extended invites to: catchers Kyle Phillips and Brian Jeroloman. Analysis: Cooper, Emaus, Stewart and Farquhar are potential sleepers in long-term keeper leagues. We don't expect any of these players to make the major leagues roster out of spring training, though. Ignore them on Draft Day.

Early in the week we added a trio of catchers to offset the not so small army of pitchers that will be in camp.  Liuzza, Phillips and Jeroloman are going to be squatting in the Florida heat quite a bit.  Tough on the legs/knees and seems more like punishment for doing something wrong but somebody has got to do it.

Courtesy of You Don't Know Dick Griffin @ The Star:

He got a whopping 2 comments on this one!  And one of those comments was a total diss.  Who is this Chris Stedron fellow and where will he be sitting on opening day?  I'm not really one to talk but he is a "professional" and I am sitting in my basement.  Just saying.

Apparently Boy Wonder has quickly learned the number one management responsibility: DELEGATING.  He decided to hand off the entire arbitration file to his assistants.  And he sold it to them by saying that they would get "experience" at it.  Genius. 

"He could do it in his sleep," LaCava said. "But he wanted us to try our hand in it. At the end of the day we all got some great experience and we got fair deals with all the players that were good for the player and good for the organization. That's what he wanted."

I'm guessing he did this to create another layer between the agents and him.  Due to his "file-to-go" strategy deadline, I'll bet he wanted to be able to enter the negotiations at the last minute if need be.  So he sends in the troops to handle the numbers while he sits back quietly and waits for issues to arise.  Nothing comes up, everybody signs the deals, high fives all around.  More Genius. 

Courtesy of Rotoworld:  

RHP Jesse Litsch is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Febuary 3.  Great news.  He had the major surgery on June 12 of last year.  Along with newly acquired RHP Shawn Hill, they will lead the second (hopefully) or third (probably) wave of starting pitchers for your Toronto Blue Jays this season around mid to late June.   You know what comes to mind whenever I think about our five man rotation.  Two words: Cannon Fodder

Baseball Prospectus predicts 73 wins.  Is that gonna be 7 pitchers with ten each or what?

Look on the bright side, if the Nationals can't sign consensus 1st overall draft pick Bryce Harper this year, we may get a shot at him if we suck a little more!  Speaking of which, I think all of us are going to have to start scouting the draft class of 2011.  We should have a very high pick and consequently get very nice player.  I'm going to look into this more.....    

Courtesy of Fangraphs: 

The organization received compensatory picks for the three players that did not sign in ‘09, but the club loses some leverage; if the players they choose in those positions in ‘10 do not sign, then the club does not receive compensation in 2011 and you can bet the players’ advisers will be all over that.

This article belittles the brain trust with respect to their drafting.  New guy gets a pass on this for now.  But if I may say this: PLEASE draft some high school players.  Especially early.  Will you do it if I say pretty please. 

Courtesy of CBS Sports fantasy news: 

Breakout: Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Considering Encarnacion was clearly on the rise when he hit 26 homers in 2008, the Reds and Fantasy owners pulled the plug on him awfully quickly last year. Of course he struggled: He had a bone floating around in his left wrist. The Reds eventually discovered the problem, but by then, the damage was done, at least as far as his batting average went. Little do most people know he rebounded to hit .274 with seven home runs over his final 95 at-bats, picking up where he left off in '08. He has improved his walk rate over the last couple years and only needs to improve his consistency to become a potential 30-homer guy. Why not in his age-27 season? He'll probably go undrafted in mixed leagues, but you'll want to keep your eye on him out of the gate.

I have a vested interest in E5 for the 2010 season.  I got him for a mere 3 bucks in my AL fantasy keeper league.  I'm just not sure what to do with him.  I wonder how his face is doing?  Even more than that, I wonder how his left wrist is doing?  You remember he had surgery on it late October.  Baltimore-based hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham shaved a large bone spur off the hamate bone in Encarnacion's ailing wrist.  Sounds painful.     


As predicted we are being overrun by lists.  They are everywhere.  I jumped on the grenade and read them  all for you.  This is my favorite.  Fangraphs put this piece out almost three months ago before we traded Doc.  Consider it prerequisite reading for the list:

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

This is a tough system to rank beyond the Top 3 because the organization had such a down year in ‘09 with a lot of prospects (hopefully temporarily) wiping out. On the plus side, there are quite a few talented players who are one good season away from shooting up the depth chart. The loss of Roy Halladay was a huge blow to the organization, as well as baseball in Canada, but the trade did infuse some much-needed talent.

1. Brett Wallace, 3B/1B, Triple-A
DOB: August 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2008 1st round – Arizona State University (St. Louis)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Wallace is the guy that was always destined to be a Blue Jay. The club drafted him out of high school in ‘05 even though he was an almost impossible signing due to his commitment to Arizona State. The club then had hoped to grab him in the ‘08 draft, but St. Louis got to him first. Finally, the club nabbed him in a deal with Oakland (for Michael Taylor, who was obtained in the Roy Halladay deal). Wallace had a busy year in ‘09 and played with three different minor league teams in double-A and triple-A. Overall on the year, he hit .293/.365/.458, which is not bad at all considering it was his first full season and he had a lot of change to deal with. The left-handed hitter fared very well against southpaws with an .897 OPS. Wallace projects to be a 20+ home run hitter with the ability to hit .280-.300. However, he needs to get a little more loft on the ball if he’s going to be a consistent power hitter. His walk rate took a bit of a hit with the promotion to triple-A (6.5%) compared to his double-A rate (11.7%), so he could stand to make some improvements in that area.

2. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Double-A
DOB: December 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 1st round – Texas HS (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-96 mph fastball, plus curveball, change-up
Drabek had an excellent ‘09 season while returning from Tommy John surgery. He began the year in high-A ball and allowed 49 hits in 61.2 innings of work. His walk rate was solid at 2.77 BB/9 and he did not allow a home run, despite an average ground-ball rate. His strikeout rate was a nifty 10.80. Moved up to double-A, Drabek’s FIP rose from 1.82 to 3.83 but his walk rate was still good at 2.90 BB/9. His strikeout rate dropped to 7.10 K/9. He gave up nine homers in double-A, as his HR/9 rate increased to 0.84 and his ground-ball rate dropped a little below average. Overall, he allowed 141 hits in 158.0 innings of work. The right-hander will probably begin the year back in double-A where he can hopefully improve his worm-burning numbers before moving up to the hitter’s haven that is Las Vegas. Drabek has the potential to be a No. 1 or 2 starter.

3. Zach Stewart, RHP, Double-A
DOB: September 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 3rd round – Texas Tech University (Cincinnati)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, slider, change-up
The club’s No. 1 prospect before the Halladay trade, Stewart is more suited to this position on a team’s Top 10 list. The right-hander has good stuff but the jury is still out on if he’s a starter or reliever. Toronto seems committed to him as a starter, which makes sense considering the bullpen depth that the club has at this point. Stewart pitched for four teams and at three levels in ‘09. He began the year in high-A ball and posted a 2.63 FIP in seven starts. Moved up to double-A, he posted a 2.77 FIP in another seven starts. Jumped to triple-A with the Reds, he moved to the bullpen and had a 3.42 FIP in nine appearances before moving to Toronto where he had a 3.42 FIP in 11 games. His control dipped with each promotion, going from 1.70 to 2.43 to 4.90, so he clearly has some more work to do. On the plus side, his strikeout rate rose from 6.80 to 7.54 to 10.52. Along with his excellent K-rate, Stewart produces a lot of ground-balls (53% in ‘09). If he can sharpen his change-up, he could be a solid No. 3 starter.

4. J.P. Arencibia, C, Triple-A
DOB: January 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – University of Tennessee
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
It was an ugly year for Arencibia, who balked at making adjustments to his approach at the plate, which led to a dismal walk rate of just 5.2% (although it was an improvement over ‘08). Arencibia had a breakout year in ‘08 by hitting 27 homers and driving in 105 runs between high-A and double-A. However, his wOBA dropped from .402 in high-A to .348 in double-A… and it continued to slide in ‘09, down to .316. His strikeout rate has gone from 18.5 to 21.0 to 24.5% during that same span. His BABIP also bottomed out in ‘09 at .269, as his triple-slash line was just .236/.284/.444 in 466 triple-A at-bats. It was bad timing for Arencibia, who likely would have been in line for the starting gig in Toronto in 2010, if he had had even an average year at triple-A. On the positive side, Arencibia has made huge strides on defense and now projects to be an average-to-above-average MLB catcher. Unless his hitting improves, though, he could be relegated to platoon work or a back-up gig on a championship-caliber team.

5. Moises Sierra, OF, Double-A
DOB: September 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
With one of the strongest outfield arms in all of minor league baseball, Sierra made huge strides at the plate in ‘09. Just 21, he hit .286/.360/.393 in 405 at-bats at high-A ball. His walk rate has improved each of the past three seasons and it was 7.4% in ‘09. His strikeout rate has dropped each year and it was just 16.3% in high-A, as Sierra is obviously becoming more confident at the plate. He also improved his base running in ‘09 and stole 10 bases in 12 tries after being successful just 12 times in 23 tries in ‘08. On the negative side, his power has yet to develop, although he has the potential to hit for power. His ISO rate has dropped each of the past three seasons from .154 to .118 to .106. The club was obviously happy with Sierra’s performance in ‘09, which included a wOBA of .353, and he received a late-season promotion to double-A. After appearing in just nine games at that level last season, Sierra should return there for 2010. He is a breakout candidate for the new season.

6. Brad Mills, LHP, Triple-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 4th round – University of Arizona
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 86-90 mph fastball, plus change-up, curveball
Mills almost made the club out of spring training in ‘09 – after an excellent ‘08 season – and his value skyrocketed early in the year. Unfortunately, he had some ups-and-downs at triple-A and also battled injuries, which has caused him to fall out of favor with a lot of prospect watchers. Despite his “off year,” Mills still posted a 3.80 FIP at triple-A and showed acceptable control with a walk rate of 3.74 BB/9 and a good, but not great, strikeout rate at 7.68 K/9. Given two starts in the Majors, Mills tried to nibble and lacked confidence in his fastball and curveball, both of which had negative values in a small sample size (7.2 innings). If healthy in 2010, Mills should open the year back in triple-A but he could be one of the first pitchers called up.

7. Travis D’Arnaud, C, Low-A
DOB: February 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round pick (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
D’Arnaud could be ranked higher on this list but I’m taking the conservative approach as he played at low-A in ‘09. Like Wallace, the club had tried to acquire this catcher via the draft but he was nabbed with the 37th overall pick by the Phillies. Toronto, picking 38th, ended up with Brett Cecil (a nice compensation). D’Arnaud, who turns 21 shortly, hit .255/.319/.419 in 482 at-bats in low-A ball last year (His numbers were depressed by a .279 BABIP). He showed good power potential with 38 doubles and 13 homers (.164 ISO). The catcher also had a pretty good approach at the plate with a walk rate of 7.6% and a strikeout rate of 15.6%. He has a good defensive reputation but he threw out just 23% of base stealers. The system suddenly has good depth at the catching position with the likes or Arencibia, D’Arnaud, and Carlos Perez.

8. Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Low-A
DOB: April 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, plus change-up, slider
Alvarez is an exciting prospect because his fastball has been gaining velocity over the past two seasons and now sits comfortably in the low 90s, and it has excellent sink. That good downward movement resulted in a ground-ball rate of 51.4% at low-A in ‘09. The right-hander gave up just one homer in 124.1 innings of work, while also posting a 2.43 FIP as a teenager. He also showed excellent control for his age with a walk rate of 1.38 BB/9. Still learning how to set up hitters, Alvarez’ strikeout rate was just 6.66 K/9 but his breaking ball has strikeout potential. He’ll move up to High-A ball in 2010 at the age just 20.

9. Carlos Perez, C, Rookie
DOB: October 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Late-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
The organization has not had much luck handing out large contracts to big-named international free agents, but Perez joins Alvarez and Sierra as one of the Jays’ best under-the-radar Latin signings. The catcher is solid defensive (albeit it with the usual youthful development needs), and he’s also becoming quite a force at the plate thanks to his solid batting eye. Perez, 19, made his North American debut in ‘09 at rookie ball and hit .291/.364/.433 in 141 at-bats. After walking more than he struck out in the Dominican Summer League in ‘08, he posted a respectable walk rate of 9.8% in the Gulf Coast League. He also showed some line-drive pop (.142 ISO) and he is more athletic than most catchers.

10. Danny Farquhar, RHP, Double-A
DOB: February 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 10th round – University of Louisiana-Lafayette
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-94 mph fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, change-up
There are a number of other prospects that could have slid in here such as Gustavo Pierre, Tyler Pastornicky, Justin Jackson – interestingly enough all shortstops – because the system has so many sleepers in it right now (but few “can’t miss” names). Tim Collins was also an option here, but he projects to be a left-handed reliever, so his ceiling is a little lower than Farquhar who could develop into an eighth-inning guy, if not a closer. The right-hander comes at hitters from a variety of arm angles and can reach the low-90s from a sidearm slot. Perhaps because he throws so many different pitches – and with so many angles – Farquhar’s control has suffered and he posted a walk rate of 5.91 BB/9 in double-A. That obviously has to improve before he’ll have much success in the Majors. Despite that fact, he posted a 10.05 K/9 rate and allowed just one homer and 31 hits in 45.2 innings at the double-A level.

I want to thank all of you that voted in our first poll.  We asked you if you thought Rogers is trying to sell the team.  The "for sure" side stormed out to a huge early lead but eventually got caught by the "no way's".  It ended up being a draw.  Well not exactly.  I voted twice for yes by accident.  So the no's won it and I hope you guys are right because I don't want to watch some untrustworthy American buy my team and threaten to move it to Vegas.


  1. I can't believe I got a shout out, and I don't see it for like 6 months. Depressing.

  2. It did take you a while but glad you found it!

    Great comment man