Hi everyone! Not much on the Jays front, so let's get that out of the way first.
According to Baseball America, the Jays signed outfielder Jason Lane to a minor-league deal. Lane spent all of 2008 in the minors (for the Yankees and Red Sox AAA affiliates) after a terrible 2007, and appears to be yet another cog in GM J.P. Ricciardi's master plan of building a mid 2000s dream team. The righthanded hitter had a nice year in 2005 with Houston, but that was heavily driven by Houston's hitter friendly park and he hasn't done anything since then. Even though Lane is 32, I still like the move because the Jays have essentially no one of major-league significance in the high minors in the outfield, unless Snider is there. And Lane has put up impressive minor-league numbers (.286/.362/.508 lifetime, albeit with many years in the hitter-friendly PCL). It's likely this is the last time we ever discuss Lane on this site, but you never know and at least he should help Las Vegas (I almost said Syracuse) if he ends up there.
In addition, the Dodgers are talking to Manny/Boras and it is looking inevitable that he will end up there, since no one else seems interested. I wish the Jays were - I know there are issues with the pitching, but Manny at DH every day over the next two seasons would be a transformational force for the Jays' offense and with the bullpen and defense the Jays have, it's arguable that Manny would put them in the playoff picture, even if the rotation was filled out with what the Jays have on hand and certainly if McGowan and Janssen return healthy. It doesn't look like we will be talking too much more than what the Jays were willing to give Burnett (though it would cost them a draft pick) and signing Manny would really energize the fanbase and could well pay for itself if the team were as good with Manny as I think they would be. It really wouldn't hold Snider back since he really could use a little more time in the minors, and he'll make his way up eventually. If Snider forces your hand, you could always trade Overbay (thus freeing up even more salary) and put Lind at 1st. And it doesn't look like Manny is going to get much more than a 3 year deal. The only question I would have is whether the Jays should jump in now, or whether they should wait for another Boras/LA stalemate and thereby hope for a better deal.
JP, here is your resolution - sign Manny!
In other dream-DH news for the Jays, it looks like the Cubs have freed up enough salary (by trading Jason Marquis to Colorado and Mark DeRosa to Cleveland) to sign MIlton Bradley, which is looking inevitable. Apparently Bradley wants 3/$30, and the Cubs will come close to that. With his injury history, Bradley is a risk at that cost and particularly if one expects him to play the outfield everyday, but he sure can hit. It's interesting that the Jays were willing to pay that much for Furcal, but not for Bradley, who would arguably improve the team more and is a decent bet to stay healthy while DHing. Both have had injury problems and I don't know that you could say that Bradley's medical history is more worrisome (I'd say the opposite). By the way, the Cubs didnt appear to get much for DeRosa, which suggests that they were anxious to dump the salary so they could sign Bradley before he went off the market. I think that was a really dumb move on the Cubs part as DeRosa was providing a ton of value and wasn't making ridiculous money. According to Fangraphs, DeRosa was paid $4.8 million last year and provided $19.8 million in value and was also a huge bargain for the Cubs in 2007 $2.8 million paid, worth $12.8 million. You don't salary dump a player who is signed at that level of affordability and is providing that kind of value - if no one will give you value, you keep him and trade someone else. Marquis on the other hand...
Well, this is all speculation, since the Jays haven't guaranteed anyone any major-league money, let alone some of the highest-priced remaining free agents. We'll be around if they ever do, to analyze it to death. More importantly, Happy New Year! We Italians eat lentils on new year's for luck and celebrate the new year by throwing things out of our windows. We did the lentils, and now that Mrs. Hugo is out of the house for the moment I can get away with tossing stuff out the windows! My resolutions are to run a little more (I'm slacking a little lately and am down to about 25 miles a week), to learn Japanese, and to take a break from work, which has the tendency to consume my life when I'm waist-deep in a case, from time to time. We toyed with the idea of moving to Seattle, but looks like that's not happening, so I also resolve to take more advantage of all DC has to offer. How about y'all?