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News and Notes: Searching for Replacements

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  • As Alpheus points out in the diary section, Jeff Blair's most recent article in the Globe and Mail discusses J.P. Ricciardi's active pursuit of a starting pitcher and a shortstop.
    Ricciardi, I'm told, is now actively in the market to add another starting pitcher and, as Russ Adams' defensive woes show signs of becoming habitual, is also keeping his eye out for a shortstop.

    The Blue Jays, sources say, expect to be without A.J. Burnett for up to a month and with the team already committing so much money to its payroll in the off-season Ricciardi is said to be prepared to add either a younger, established starter or a more expensive veteran.

    Of course, the persisting rumours that Josh Towers may make his next start should be quelled by management immediately. With A.J. Burnett on the disabled list for a while and Gustavo Chacin's injury concerns, the rotation is incredibly thin at the moment. Not only does that affect the number of viable candidates that may replace Towers, but it leaves Ricciardi at a considerable disadvantage in trade talks. In other words, GMs are aware of the urgency of his need for a starting pitcher and will likely use that leverage to ask for a king's ransom in return. Couple that with the fact that there simply don't seem to be many talented pitchers available via the trade route, and that means the most likely scenario will take place in-house.

    Francisco Rosario was recently recalled when the Blue Jays rightfully optioned reliever Vinnie Chulk to the minors. He picked up a victory last night in his second major league appearance. Despite that, he doesn't project to be someone in whom I'd place a lot of trust. Throughout his minor league career, he's posted relatively high walk rates and adequate, though not spectacular, strikeout rates. Also, last season in AAA, he gave up 16 home runs in only 116.1 IP. This season, his second in AAA, he's shown some improvement, however. His walk rate is still somewhat high (3.22/9IP), but his strikeout rate (11.69/9IP) has improved considerably. However, he's accomplished that through rather strange splits. The sample size is very small, but he's been much more effective against lefties than righties; the former have hit .227/.150/.377 against him, while the latter have hit .343/.413/.756. What's interesting, though, is that his strikeout rate is noticeably higher versus righties, against whom he's fared much worse. However, the BABIPs differ greatly as well. Once they regress towards the mean, the totals will appear to be more normal. His past minor league numbers should be leaned on more heavily anyway, and they simply don't convey a budding star. With that said, he'd be a vast improvement over Towers, and should therefore be considered as a possible replacement.

    Scott Downs could also replace him, but he's a short-term solution. Still, unless Ricciardi trades for a productive starter, he's not a bad option.

    A radical solution would be to simply go with a four-man rotation as long as the situation more or less necessitates it. Since days off are few and far between, starters would have to consistently pitch on three days' rest. I think the chances of this occurring are slim to none, but it'd be an interesting experiment.

  • Toronto Star columnist Chris Young recently linked to us twice on JABS. I'm obviously grateful, and I think it's great that the media are willing to help out the little guys every now and then. Independent blogs shouldn't be regarded as competition against the media. Rather, their coexistence is beneficial in the sense that they mutually provide more information than has ever been widely made available in the past.
  • Marc Normandin takes a look at Todd Helton's chances at making the Hall of Fame in a recent article he wrote for Baseball Prospectus.
    When taking the possible election of additional first basemen to the Hall into consideration, one will have to root for Todd Helton to remain at a high level for a few more seasons, rather than slipping into the future that PECOTA envisions for him. What was once such a simple choice for a future Hall of Famer may prove to be somewhat more difficult. No worries, though: it is perfectly acceptable to root against PECOTA to help the Rox attain a spot in those hallowed and historic halls. Just don't let PECOTA hear you disagree, or revenge will be swift and painful when your own favorite player's five-year projections are released.

    A lot is made of the fact that many of the game's contemporary first basemen are Hall of Fame calibre players, and that this may subsequently detract from their chances of induction. What's interesting, however, is that many of these players didn't begin their careers as first basemen. Rather, they had the necessary offensive skills to thrive in baseball, but their defensive woes led to a permanent transition to first base. Off the top of my head, here are some active first basemen who may one day merit Hall of Fame consideration:

    Player        Original Position
    Jeff Bagwell     3B
    Carlos Delgado   C
    Todd Helton      1B
    David Ortiz      1B
    Albert Pujols    3B
    Mark Teixeira    3B
    Frank Thomas     1B
    Jim Thome        3B

    What should also be noted is that David Ortiz and Frank Thomas have primarily been DHs for a good portion of their careers. That means Helton is the only one to have played first base for his entire career. Now, that doesn't really mean much since many of these players made a permanent positional transition at a fairly young age. Nonetheless, I think it's interesting since it doesn't significantly apply to any other position.

  • Jeff Sackmann from Brew Crew Ball launched the Minor League Splits Database. It lists many key statistics that are virtually impossible to find anywhere else. It's a great resource and I'll rely upon it heavily in the future.