Monday, November 27, 2006

Jays Off-season – So Far, So Bad

Pop quiz hotshot: what do you do when you get an extra $20 million in payroll, only have 3 starting pitchers locked up, no catchers, no 2nd baseman, you’re almost certain to lose your franchise player to either free agency in one year or trade this year, you have no catchers, a thin bullpen and an abundance of heavy hitters?

If you chose “Sign an over the hill, injury prone DH to a multi-year contract”, you and JP Ricciardi are soul mates. You also answered wrong. I have been trying to find the silver lining since the time this deal was announced, but I can’t quite grasp it. Maybe – and that’s a HUGE maybe – Frank Thomas can dip into the well one last time and hit 35 home runs, like he did this year for Oakland. Thomas was coming off a year in which he was unceremoniously dumped by his lifelong team and smeared in the press by that team’s general manager. He signed a one-year contract with Oakland where there was no doubt he was out to make his old team look bad. Mission accomplished: the White Sox missed the playoffs and he was the driving force behind Oakland’s pennant. Now what does he have to play for?

Two years, $18 million. Adam Kennedy, Mark Loretta and Tony Graffanino are available as quality 2nd basemen. It looks like Rod Barajas will be the starting catcher while Greg Zaun will walk. Frank Catalanotto is already gone. I’ve yet to hear a quality pitching free agent be associated with the Jays. What exactly is going on? High-octane teams rarely win pennants – good pitching does and defence does. Turns out we get zero defensive capabilities out of our big free agent signing.

Maybe J.P. has a huge trade in the works for Vernon Wells that will shore up the pitching situation and free up some salary. One can only hope at this point. I’m not holding my breath.


Steph D said...

I think the signing of the Big Hurt was entirely based on a Vernon Wells trade. Thomas is being brought in to help replace the lost offensive punch from losing Wells. There's just no other logic that can be applied to this move. And the fact that JP has been so elusive to explain his move hints that he can't elaborate at this point.
Plus, the Jays haven't used Wells in any of their off-season advertising for season ticket renewals, so you draw your own conclusions.

Hopefully with Zaun coming back, and a nice Wells trade for some key pieces will help fill in the many gaps.