Buster Olney, in his blog on ESPN.com (yeah you need to be an 'insider'), tells us that the Jays "are aggressively seeking an experienced closer". Now setting aside that the best closer in team history wasn't an experienced anything before we traded for him and that the term 'proven closer' has quickly become my least favorite term, let's look at the guys Buster says has "come up in their conversations". Course, I think, by putting it that way, that Buster has never heard Alex Anthopoulos talk. Alex talks a mile a minute. With him, in 15 minutes, every player in the history of baseball can come up in conversation.
Anyway the names on Buster's list:
- Heath Bell: I really don't see it, Bell is 34, will be looking for a longer contract (4 years) and has been throwing in the most pitcher friendly park in baseball. His strike out rate dropped from 11.1 K/9 in 2010 to 7.1 in 2011. He got by, last year, by having a BABIP of .261, dropping from .322 in 2010. I don't think he can keep that rate up. Add in that he would much rather stay on the west coast, and that he might accept arbitration if offered. But then if he isn't offered arbitration, we wouldn't give up the draft choice.
- Jonathan Papelbon: Turns 31 in a couple of weeks. He's more of a sure thing. He has been pitching in the AL East. Buster says: "if the Jays landed him, they would theoretically be weakening one of the teams they are chasing". I don't want to give the Sox our first round pick and I don't want to be paying someone $15 million plus to pitch roughly 60 innings a year. I don't want the guy, but I'd bet you that if we did sign him, we'd have more visitors to the site, that day, than ever before.
- Joe Nathan: Southpaw's choice. Would be cheaper than the two above. He wouldn't cost us a pick. He held batters to a .207 average in the second half of the season as he got further away from elbow surgery. Joe would like to close and pitch for a contender (it might be a stretch to hope that he would see us as a contender) and he might take a shorter contract to reestablish some value. He turns 37 in a couple of weeks. I wouldn't be against the idea, he'd be pretty motivated to have a good season.
- Andrew Bailey: Alex has told us that he would prefer to go through the trade route. He didn't have his best season in 2010, ERA jumped from 1.84 in 2009 and 1.47 in 2010 to 3.24 in 2011. He's just coming into his first arbitration year so would be relatively cheap, compared the other guys and he is younger, just 27. He wouldn't cost us a draft pick but he would cost us, at least, a couple of good prospects. Olney says:
Trading Bailey now would make sense for the Oakland Athletics because they continue to rot in a baseball twilight zone while waiting to see if they can get approval for a San Jose ballpark. The A's are probably not going to contend in 2012 and may want to take advantage of Bailey's value now before he becomes more expensive through arbitration.
Let's have a poll.