Weekly Round Up : Feb. 8 - 14

It's been a busy week.  I'm guessing that the American media has now turned their attention to baseball, with the SuperBowl being done and all.  There were a ton of stories that I was unable to get to, which is precisely why I decided to create this weekly feature.  Leading off are two articles about our LL Cool J look alike.  I think there is a good chance he will be on the hill for Opening Day and I look forward to seeing him pitch around 200 innings for us in 2010.

Courtesy of Jordan Bastian:

"Wherever I end up in the rotation doesn't matter to me," Romero said. "I just consider myself as one piece of five guys that make up the rotation, and the five guys that end up making the team are going to be the five guys we go to battle with. I just want to be a leader. I want to be a guy that leads by example.

"Do I consider myself an ace?" Romero said during a phone conversation this week. "Obviously not."

Courtesy of Morgan Campbell @ The Star:

"I'm humbled and hungry, man," Romero said. "I've never gotten complacent and I'm not about to start now. ... There's about 15 other guys that want my job and every one of them is hungry."


Nice to hear the man is not leaving anything up to the element of chance.  I think he is all but guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation and I'm glad his head has not gotten too big.....yet.  I remember he was the first pitcher drafted in 2005.  I'm going to block out the fact that Matt Garza was available and selected 25th.  He was a college guy as well so no excuse by J.P. not selecting him.  Oh well, I like Ricky Romero's music and now Boy Wonder has 69 scouts, so it won't happen again right?

Courtesy of Ed Eagle @ MLB.com

Blue Jays right-hander Scott Richmond's quest to win a spot in Toronto's starting rotation has been sidetracked by a shoulder impingement.  Richmond, 30, went 8-11 with a 5.52 ERA in 27 appearances (24 starts) last season. According to a team release, the injury occurred during his preparations for Spring Training, and he will be "monitored closely throughout his revised throwing program" to rehab the shoulder. 

We here at 1bluejaysway have been collectively shitting on Richmond for a while now.  We love the fact that he is Canadian, but his numbers in the second half of the season indicated he had hit the wall.  Now with this news, I have to think he is a long shot to make the starting rotation.  He will be brought along slowly and may be a candidate for a 15 day DL trip with an extended spring training and "rehab assignment" to begin 2010 along with McGowan.  I  think he has some value as a fifth starter when he's right.  But throwing shoulder injuries in a pitcher is obviously not good, especially when they are not a lock for a job.  I could never bring myself to wish that a player gets hurt with an injury but this news seems to have cleared up some of  the rotation question marks.  Good luck on your recovery Scott.  We wish you well.     

Courtesy of Jordan Bastian:

Please consider this your required reading of the week. Enjoy!

Courtesy of Baseball Musings:

Players A to Z, Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion plays third base for the Toronto Blue Jays. The long time Reds hitter went north in the trade for Scott Rolen. Edwin’s batting stats don’t stand out as great, but they’re certainly not bad. The average American League hitter in 2009 posted a slash line of .267/.336/.428. Encarnacion’s career line comes in at .260/.341/.448. So he’s above average in both OBP and slugging percentage. If your entire team produced those numbers, they’d likely be above average in runs scored.  Unfortunately, Edwin gives a lot of those runs created back on defense. That may hurt Toronto as they try to develop a young pitching staff.  Encarnacion also is coming off a poor offensive season. At seasonal age 27, I would expect him to bounce back from that. He needs to have a very good season with the bat to make up for his glove, otherwise he may not last too long in the majors.

Again, I have to preface this analysis: I have E5 for measly 3 bucks in my AL only, big money fantasy league.  Just the thought of a 3 dollar third basemen getting me 20 + bombs is giving me a semi.  But he had some wrist surgery and I'm hesitant to keep him over other players on my roster.  I will be watching him with great interest this spring training.  What do you guys think he will produce if he's able to get 500 at bats? 
Courtesy of You Don't Know Dick Griffin @ The Star

Cynical baseball observers ( I guess your talking about ME here Dick ) point to the Yankees and their World Series wins and simply shrug – anyone can spend money to win.  The Bombers bought a championship, after all. Anyone could do the same given the Bronx Bombers' financial resources.  Well, the fact is, that despite becoming the first and only major-league team to spend more than $200 million (all figures U.S.) in 2008 and 2009, it does take some skill to build a World Series roster.  General manager Brian Cashman deserves some credit.

Dick then goes on to take the undisputed worst contracts in all of baseball and concludes:

So that 25-man roster adds up to $252.4 million and would be enough to get any GM fired.  As more GMs study their mistakes, it seems free agency for veterans will no longer be the windfall it originally was intended to be.

Ah, ya Dick it would.  It must be a coincidence that 3 guys on your 25 man roster there, are Blue Jays signed by J.P. and he was fired.  Guess it proves your right.

On more thing Dick, I wonder how many of the players on your overly simplistic, kindergarten level, 25 man roster WERE ACTUALLY free agents?  Because I remember Rios signed a thing called AN EXTENSION buying out his arbitration years and some free agent years.  Wells signed a contract extension as well you fucking idiot.  As always, the comments section of Dick's column is littered with people shitting on the writer.  This time 3 out of the total of 10 comments are less than complimentary.  Nice to see him giving the shout out to Cot's Baseball Contracts although it is too bad he hasn't figured out how to use the link feature on the dreaded computer thingy yet.  

Courtesy of RotoAuthority:

Closer Report: Blue Jays

The Blue Jays currently have a three-man competition at closer, with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, and Scott Downs duking it out.  Gregg is a recent free agent signee, while Frasor and Downs are entering their walk years and are trade candidates.  Since all three pitchers are being drafted in the 26th round or later, Toronto presents a nice fantasy opportunity if you pick right.
Right now all we know is that Gregg signed in part because he'll get a shot at closing, and manager Cito Gaston will make the decision (MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reporting).  According to Mock Draft Central, fantasy owners are currently voting for Downs (311.73), Frasor (323.34), and Gregg (327.29) in that order.
There is reason to believe Downs won't be the guy.  The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin notes that Downs is not the lights-out type for the ninth inning.  That's understandable; Downs is a southpaw who averages about 90 mph on his heater.  Frasor throws harder and he's right-handed.  Downs and Frasor both had better peripherals than Gregg in 2009, though they lack his closing experience.  Of the three, only Downs had a strong groundball rate.
So while you could make a case for any of the three, I'd be surprised to see Downs get the nod with two capable righties also in the mix.  If you're drafting now, take Gregg.  Unlike Frasor, Gregg's not a spring trade candidate.  And I'm guessing Gaston will choose the experienced closer even if Frasor stays.

This is the full article because I got nothing to add.  I do want the 10 minutes of my life it took me to read Dick's mailbag back though.  Bang on analysis by a contributor over at the biblical mlbtraderumors.com.  With this news my fantasy team is now officially fucked.

Courtesy of Big League Stew:

Shaun Marcum, Toronto Blue Jays: Another one in Tommy John recovery, he missed all of 2009 after being hurt at the end of 2008, but the reports on his elbow are good. He's no Roy Halladay, but Marcum is effective when healthy. General manager Alex Anthopoulos said of Marcum, "There's no restrictions. No limitations at all. He looks great. He's going to come into camp with full guns-a-blazing. We think he's going to be ready to go to pitch, hopefully, a full season for us and have a great year."

What can I say about Marcum?  He's a right handed Jimmy Key.  Needs to be spot on, all the time to be effective.  To his credit on most nights he is good more than he is bad but man, it must be tough trying to get major league hitters out that way.  I hope he comes in and everything feels good.  As important, if not more important than his surgically repaired elbow, will be his head.  It may take a while for his confidence to come back.

Courtesy of Fan Graphs:

Rzepczynski tossed his 88 MPH sinker 55 percent of the time with Toronto, going to his 80 MPH slider a whopping 39 percent and sprinkling in some 82 MPH changeups (six percent).

In 2010, CHONE has Rzepczynski posting a 4.05 FIP, with 8.7 K’s per nine innings and 4.4 BB/9. It’s going to be interesting to see how his punchout rates translate long-term to the majors. Despite not having the archetypal power pitcher’s arsenal, Rzepczynski has deftly avoided lumber at each level of competition. His control needs work, but this lefty’s combination of whiffs and worm burners could make him The Dude to target late on draft day.

I'm liking the thought of this guy in the rotation a little bit more everyday.  He's got an above average groundball rate of 51.2% as mentioned earlier.  Another guy to watch closely this spring.  But due to the fact he has an option year or two to burn, I think he starts the year in AAA and is one of the first guys called up when the situation presents itself.

Courtesy of OK Blitz:

“I’d like to start; I’ll make that known.” Tallet said. “It’s going to be one of those things where I just go into camp and do what they want me to do. That’s all you really can do.”

And if it were up to Tallet, he wouldn’t give Toronto a second chance to question his ability. He plans to be at the Jays’ camp on Feb. 12, nearly a week before the optional reporting date for pitchers.

Wolverine really had a lot to say in this article.  He covered the Halladay / Lee trade from both perspectives.  Good read.  This guy has a spot locked up on the 12 man pitching staff.  I'm just not sure what his role will be at this point.  I think it depends on a lot of things beyond his control.

Courtesy of Razzball:

All right, but you can’t just ignore those 108 RBIs he had last year.  Maybe you can.  He hit behind a career year from Marco Scutaro who had a .379 OBP in 680 plate appearances.  Speaking of which, Aaron Hill had the most plate appearances in the major leagues last year.  Number one.  As in, no one was in front of him number one.  You have to take that many plate appearances with a grain of salt.  In 2010, Hill will be hitting behind who?  John Buck?  Jose Bautista?  Yeah, there goes those RBIs.  People are drafting him around the same time as Justin Morneau (30/100/.290) and Curtis Granderson (30/20)… Okay, different positions.  But how are people drafting him at the same time as Cano’s 90/27/100/.315/5?  Take a 2nd baseman later (Ian Stewart, Scott Sizemore, Kelly Johnson) instead of reaching for Aaron Hill.  He’s overrated.

I was spewing this venom about Aaron Hill in last week's round up comments section.  I did not take it quite as far as this guy but I agree with his message in principal.  Hill will have a great year for a second baseman.  But in 2009 he seemed to have a few things go his way, which contributed to his career high numbers in the following offensive categories:
  • Hits
  • Home Runs
  • Runs
  • RBI
  • At Bats
  • Slugging Percentage
  • Stolen Bases  
Can he do it again?  Based on where he is being taken in fantasy drafts, I think most people would say yes.  But I fear this is simply explained by the fact he is eligible at such a weak position and his offensive production is far too tempting to pass on at two bag.

Courtesy of Jordan Bastian's Inbox:

With Spring Training almost here and the Blue Jays in a rebuilding period, who are the organization's top 10 prospects?
-- Nolan F., Peterborough, Ontario

Without the December trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies and the deal last July that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to the Reds, the Blue Jays' top prospects list would look very different than it does right now. With those two moves, Toronto reeled in what I believe to be its top four prospects for the time being.
First on the list, in my opinion, is first baseman Brett Wallace -- one of the players netted in the Halladay swap. He's nearly ready for the big leagues and could have a home in the heart of the Jays' lineup in the near future. Next on my list would be right-hander Kyle Drabek (also added in the Halladay deal), followed by right-hander Zach Stewart (picked up in the Rolen swap).  Drabek and Stewart are unlikely to make the Blue Jays' rotation this spring, but they will be in camp with the rest of the big league starting candidates. The pair of talented righties could see The Show some time this year, but it seems more realistic that Drabek and Stewart could have more of an impact beginning in 2011.  Fourth on my list would be catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who was the third prospect added in the Halladay trade. It appears as though d'Arnaud will open the year at high Class A Dunedin, so he is a few years away from a potential promotion to Toronto. Still, he heads the list of three catchers that make my Top 10 prospects list. Behind d'Arnaud, I'll go with right-hander Chad Jenkins and outfielder Jake Marisnick, who were selected by the Jays in the first and third round, respectively, in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. I'll round out my list with right-hander Henderson Alvarez, followed by catcher J.P. Arencibia, lefty Tim Collins and catcher Carlos Perez.

  Oh and Happy Valentine's Day Bitches

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