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Recent Blue Jays News

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* Yesterday, the Jays avoided arbitration with recently acquired first baseman Lyle Overbay and pitcher Scott Downs. Today, they avoided arbitration with Ted Lilly, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Here's the salary breakdown for '06:

Overbay - $2,525,000
Downs - $705,000
Lilly - $4,000,000

In addition, Lilly could earn a maximum of $200,000 in incentives:

$25,000 each for 190, 195, and 200 IP
$50,000 for 210 IP
$75,000 for 215 IP

Considering each player's Major League service time, the amounts they signed for aren't all that surprising. Although, if Lilly's output is similar to last year's, he won't come close to earning his '06 paycheck. If Dustin McGowan proves he's capable of starting every fifth day, the Blue Jays would be wise to strongly consider trading Lilly prior to the season. Not only would it help them financially, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to project McGowan as the better pitcher, right now.

As of now, Shea Hillenbrand and Pete Walker are the only Blue Jays who are still eligible for salary arbitration.

* In other news, espn.com recently reported rumours that the Blue Jays are one of three teams that still have interest in signing free agent catcher/first baseman/DH Mike Piazza:

The Twins and A's have dropped out of the running for Piazza, according to the paper, leaving the Blue Jays, Orioles and Angels as the only clubs left who could still have an interest in the veteran catcher.

I don't place much credence in the rumours section at espn.com, and the possibility of this occurring seems remote. All three positions at which positions Piazza can play are blocked by a superior player, and the 12-time all-star probably wouldn't accept the role of a bench player.

* Steve Simmons of the Toronto Star wrote a column in which he questions the Hall of Fame voters' motivation for voting for Jim Rice but not Joe Carter. Here's his argument:

Carter and Rice each played 16 major-league seasons. Career, they are only 100 at-bats apart. Carter hit 16 more home runs than Rice -- 396 to 382. Rice knocked in five more runs -- 1451 to 1445. The power numbers -- not batting average numbers -- are that close.

Carter was the better baserunner, probably even better in the field.

Yet he's done, dropped from the ballot a year ago after getting less than 5% of the vote the first time around. He must see the votes Rice gets -- 65% -- and wonder why not him. His career may not have been Hall of Fame material -- but there's no way 337 votes separate him and Jim Rice. No way.

His argument is solely based on cherry picking the numbers. Although it's true that some of their career numbers are very similar (they're also born only one calendar day apart), many of the important ones are not. For one, Carter struggled to post a carrer OBP over .300; his career line is .259/.306/.464 compared to Rice's .298/.352/.502. In addition, Rice created 270 runs above average throughout his career, while Carter could only amass an RCAA of 28 throughout his.

Here's how they compare in terms of the Hall of Fame tests listed at baseball-reference.com:

Carter:

Black Ink: 9 (Average HOFer ~ 27)
Gray Ink: 103 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: 31.2 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: 89.0 (Likely HOFer > 100)

Rice:

Black Ink: 33 (Average HOFer ~ 27)
Gray Ink: 176 (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: 42.9 (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: 146.5 (Likely HOFer > 100)

* Two Blue Jays, Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells, were selected to team USA's initial roster for the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Halladay has stated that he will likely not participate, according to Globe and Mail writer Jeff Blair (scroll down to view story).