You can sure tell it is January, there is no baseball news. It is kind of funny, December we were just rolling in news and rumors and lots of things to talk about, January comes and the tap shuts off. Oh well, only a bit more than a month before pitchers head down to spring training.
Anyway, some quick bits:
- Reed Johnson signed with the Cubs. He is still a favorite of mine, so I'm glad he has a job this year.
- The Jays have 8 players who are eligible for arbitration that haven't signed yet, so there will be a furry of activity soon. Brandon Morrow, Carlos Villanueva, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, Jose Bautista, Rajai Davis, Shawn Camp and Yunel Escobar all need contracts. The 17th of this month is when the teams and players exchange arbitration numbers and February 1 is when the hearing start. The Jays haven't gone in front of an arbitrator since 1997, so Alex has some work to do.
- The big one, of course, is Jose Bautista. He is in his last year of arbitration. He could be getting close to $10 million (not bad for playing a kids game). Or the Jays could look to sign him to a longer contract.
- The only Jay rumor going around at the moment is that we are after Brian Fuentes. I'm not really against the idea, unless we are talking BJ Ryan numbers. I wouldn't want to give him more than 3 years. At least signing him would show that we are in the market. On the other hand, I'd rather spend money on a batter than a reliever at the moment, if it is a one or the other thing.
- The Jay Winter tour is coming to Calgary next week. J.P. Arencibia, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, John Farrell and Bruce Walton are to be in town. Vernon Wells has been a surprise visitor on the other stops, so I'm wondering if he'll be here too. The Jays have promised me some 'media opportunities', what ever that means. But, since I can imagine the local mainstream media folks will be crawling all over this, I'm hoping to get a few moments to talk to John Farrell and Bruce Walton. Beyond that, anything they let me have, I'll be happy to take. If you want to suggest questions for Farrell and Walton or any of the other Jays coming to Calgary, now would be a good time to do it.
- Speaking of no news, Scott Carson has a column up about the Jays 'Shifting Philosophy', which to him means we are going to steal bases. Reading it, for some reason Oprah's voice was running through my head: 'You are going to steal 20 bases and you are going to steal 20 bases.' I don't know why stealing bases is the be all and end all of whatever new philosophy the team might have. I'm hoping the new philosophy includes getting on base more. Oh well.
- My favorite line in his column: "they need Davis -- and his speed -- in right on an everyday basis if the Jays are to change from a power team to a speed team." No no, they need him and his speed only if he gets on base. If he gets on base at a .320 rate, like last year, they need him leading off like they need arm injuries to multiple pitchers. Speed is great, if you are getting on base, if not all it is good for is getting the next batter up in a hurry. Last year, against RHP Davis got on base at a .304 clip. A corner outfielder with no power can't do that and help the team, no matter how fast he is.
- I know it came out a few days ago but I wanted to mention one thing about Richard Griffin's 'Greatest Jay' piece. Not that I don't agree with his conclusion, I think Delgado is a good choice. But he says "First of all, let's eliminate pitchers. Even though pitchers are significant factors in the overall scheme of winning, starting pitchers are in the spotlight just once every five days, 33-36 games out of 162". Yeah that's true but good starting pitchers have a role in more at bats than any batter does. For example, in 2008 Roy Halladay faced 987 batters. The same season the Jay with the most plate appearances was Alex Rios with 686. So why couldn't Halladay or any other pitcher be as valuable as any hitter if he had a role in more at bats?
- Manny Ramirez is still out there. Just saying.
- If you are looking for a good baseball read, my son gave me 'Are We Winning?' and I read it on holiday. Just a really nice book talking about how baseball bonds fathers and sons as well as about baseball in general. It's funny, my dad only has a passing interest in baseball, he'll watch it if it is on but it isn't something we talk about. I'm sure we'd talk more if he did (not that we don't talk). My brother, on the other hand, baseball is all we talk about, to a comic level. He gets separated from his wife and he doesn't tell me about it in a 45 minute phone conversation, about baseball. Our mom get knee replacement surgery, I phone him after to let him know all went well, we talk baseball until I can say 'hold on, I'm in mom's hospital room....' and then we talk baseball.
- Currently reading Keith Richard's 'Life'. Some interesting bits but unsurprisingly, it is mostly about drugs. That part I'm not interested in, but complaining that Keith Richard's autobiography is about drugs is like complaining that a baseball blog talks too much about stats.
- On a related note, among the things that should be banned around here is anything close to 'if you actually watched baseball'. Seems like it happens a fair bit lately, we'll be talking about some player or some stat and someone will say 'If you guys watched baseball instead of just read about it....' or some variation on that theme. Very few people watch more baseball then I do. Just because you understand WAR values or BABIP doesn't mean you don't watch baseball. Oh and hitting home runs doesn't make your BABIP go down......