The other day, driving around with my son, I heard Keith Law, on the radio, talking to Stephen Brunt and Bob McCown about Jose Bautista's contract. Law feels the Jays made a mistake, that they should have waited out the coming season, see how Jose does and then offer him a contract. I do have a lot of sympathy for that point of view. It would have been the safe thing to do.
More after the jump.
I mean, if the Jays let him start next year and if half way through he shows that last year wasn't a fluke, you could start negotiating. The only problem is that if he does show last year wasn't a fluke, then, coming up on free agency, Jose would have a lot more leverage. He'd be looking for more money than what he got now and he might decide that, having gone that far, he might as well test free agency.
But still that would have been the safe move. Even if he left as a free agent, no one is going to get on Anthopoulos' case for not signing him the year before after one good season. But now, you know, if he does go back to what he was, all the sports journalists already have the column written comparing this contract to Vernon's. It was one of the first questions at the press conference announcing the deal.
The reason to do the contract now is that you think it is the right move and you aren't worried about what people say if it doesn't work. You do the contract now because you have talked to your scouts and advisors and they say that Jose's 2010 season was the real thing, that he has made changes to his swing that work and will continue to work. Alex has hired what he thinks are the best people he could, he should believe them.
I likely wouldn't have signed Jose to a five year contract, but then I'm a chicken. I'm also sure Alex would have rather a shorter deal too, but, likely, Jose showed he wouldn't sign a shorter contract.
Alex doesn't seem to be afraid to take chances. I like that. I think to win the AL East we are going to have to gamble occasionally. It might turn out that he is wrong, but at least he picked a horse to put his money on.
Anyway this was all a long winded way of leading up to a poll. I wanted to ask if you all thought that Jose will hit more than 30 home runs this season, but I'm reading (and enjoying) Scorecasting, and there is a chapter on the silliness of focusing on round numbers, so I'm going to ask if you think he will hit more than 27 home runs this year. That's half of what he hit last year, but still would make it likely that the team got value for the first year of his contract, at least.
I think his batting average will come up a bit this year. He had bad luck on BABIP last year. And no that's not because he hit more home runs. Home runs are not singles that just happened to fly over the fence. Home runs are fly balls that happened to fly over the fence. Fly balls that don't fly over the fence are generally outs. So having a higher percentage of fly balls becoming home runs should, slightly, help your BABIP.