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The Dangling Conversation Part II: Do I Have To Keep On Talking Till I Can't Go On?

Hi everyone.  When last we left off, your friendly hosts were discussing the high and low points of the 2008 season.  Now we delve into the offseason and what the Jays can and should do.  Without further adieu (and thanks to the Beatles "We Can Work It Out" for today's title):

Hugo:  What are the Jays’ biggest problem spots going into the offseason and in what order should they be addressed? 

Rincewind:  Starting pitcher and DH…..change my mind about the order of the two every few minutes. I’d prefer them to be found on the free agent market, rather not give up on any of our better prospects. Although if BJ Ryan could be traded to fill one of the holes, I wouldn’t complain.

Beyond that if a real upgrade at SS could be had without costing too much, I’d be happy.

Hugo:  I suppose I would try to fix DH spot first.  My reasoning is that the Jays have more depth at starting pitcher, even though there are more questions there.  Things might look very shaky at the beginning of the season, but as the season develops, options like Romero, McGowan, Cecil, Mills, and Ray may develop to fill the starting pitcher role, while DH is Snider and nothing, leaving the Jays absolutely no margin for error if one of Rios/Wells/Snider/Lind/Overbay go down, unless you want to see Inglett or Bautista in the outfield everyday (I don’t).  I also think the Jays’ solid defense and bullpen will take some of the pressure off the starting rotation, a luxury the Yankees, say, didn’t have with their young starting pitchers upon who they relied this season. 

After DH, I would go to starting pitcher, and then SS.  I’d love to upgrade catcher but I just don’t see it happening until Arencibia is ready to go. 

Rincewind:  Is there no chance Arencibia would be ready to go at the start of the season? Boy he looks good and watching Barajas streak and slump all season was not fun. There are a lot of interesting older catchers available on the free agent list that might be cheap.

The nice part about the DH problem is that there is a handful of free agents that could fill the role, though if a team would give us a DH for Ryan that would leave us with money for a starter. I wonder if the Rangers would go for Ryan for Blalock?

Hugo:  That’s an interesting deal.  Blalock would be a very nice fit on the team, and he’s only signed to the one year at a reasonable cost.  As for the catcher spot, I think Arencibia could probably be about as good as Barajas over the full season, maybe better, but he still needs work on his plate discipline and the majors really isn’t a good place for a young catcher to work on that skill.  I’m really hoping he makes it to the majors this season, but because he’s truly ready, not because we have a sub .300 OBPing Barajas and an open wound at the catcher position. 

Rincewind:  Well, there are 16 old catchers, not one under 30, that have filed as free agents. I’m sure most of them would take a one year contract or one and an option year. Any interest in Henry Blanco as a back up? Ivan Rodriguez? David Ross? Javier Valentin? Varitek? Or are we just as well off to keep Thigpen in the role for now?

We didn’t talk about who we would like to pick up to fill out the starting rotation. I’m taking it for granted that AJ won’t be back. At the moment I think the locks are Doc, Litsch and Purcey. I am hoping Janssen is totally healthy and could fill a spot. I could really see him being the comeback player of the year, if, of course, Cito doesn’t blow his arm out again.

I’d love to see the Jays go after Derek Lowe or Randy Johnson. Lowe, with our infield defense could be a terrific fit and if McGowan comes back healthy, Lowe would be a great trading piece. Johnson? Well I just like the guy and he likely would be willing to take a one year contract, just to get to that 300th win. Yeah, I know, might be wishful thinking in both cases.

Hugo:  Plenty of time to get into specifics as the offseason progresses, but I'm not sure Ranjo would be willing to sign here.  He's said he only wants to sign with a contender or he'll retire, and while I'm sure he's bs-ing about that, if he prefers a contender he'll surely be able to find one.  Thought it breaks my heart to say so, I'm not sure we qualify in that regard, at least, in the minds of most free agents. 

Lowe, although old, has been very durable and his groundball numbers are a great fit, so we'll have to see where the offseason goes.  My guess is that he doesn't sign until the bigger names are off the market. 

Though this violates the order I put out just before (DH-starter-SS), I'd love to see the Jays swoop in and get Hardy now.  Hardy is well above-average both offensively and defensively and will be just 26 next season.  I'd try to get him before Furcal and Cabrera sign and other teams get in on him.  Hardy is good enough to justify including Cecil, I think, though I'd hope it wouldn't take that.

Hugo:  Well, that's that for now.  Next time we will talk about whether the Jays should go into rebuilding mode and, later on, who should bat leadoff for our azure-clad heroes!