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Today in Bluebird Banter History: Santa List, 2008

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Like the list posted this morning, Tom wrote a wish list to Santa about what jolly old Saint Nicholas should bring to various Jays-related people three years ago, on December 24, 2008. Let's take a review to see which wishes Santa actually granted and which he ignored:

Alex Rios....Home runs, lots of them and the a center field glove.

IGNORED. In 2009 Alex hit 14 homers for the Jays after hitting 24 in 2007 and 15 in 2008. He was hitting .264/.317/.427 and collected a -1.5 WAR in 108 games with Toronto. The Jays placed him on waivers in August and allowed him (and his contract) to go to the Chicago White Sox in return for nothing.

Vernon Wells....No trips to the DL and a season that stops us from talking about his contract.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. Vernon did play a full season and appeared in 158 games (he played 108 in 2008) and had 684 plate appearances. Unfortunately he only hit 15 HR and hit .260/.311/.400. And we still talk about his contract and why we couldn't use that money to sign Pujols/Darvish/Fielder/Madson/Papelbon.

Shaun Marcum....A recovery with no set backs and a 2010 as good as 2008 looked, with more run support. Marcum actually received fewer run support in 2010 (4.53 per start) than 2008 (4.84 per start).

GRANTED. Shaun came back even stronger in 2010 than he looked in 2008, finishing with a 13-8 record, 3.64 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, and pitched 195.1 innings, collecting a healthy 3.6 WAR. His strong season got us Brett Lawrie--thank you Santa!

Lyle Overbay....the lead off role and enough home runs to keep the fans off his back.

IGNORED. Lyle only played 132 games in 2009 and had exactly 500 at bats. He hit .265/.372/.466, 35 doubles and just 16 homers (one more than 2008). The fans never got off his back and even inexplicably booed him when he returned as a Pittsburgh Pirate, much to Jerry Howarth's consternation. And did Tom hope that Lyle would hit lead off? He mostly batted 7th in 2009 (and never ever led off).

Aaron Hill...No headaches and a shortstop glove.

GRANTED. Aaron had a career year in 2009 after missing most of 2008 with a concussion, and at least reported no headaches. He won the Silver Slugger as the Jays' second baseman hitting .286/.330/.499 with 36 homers, 37 doubles, and 195 hits. Went to the All Star Game and even got a few MVP votes to finish 12th in the AL.

Scott Rolen....Health, the economy sized package.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. After missing 39 games in 2008, Scott had a healthier 2009, missing 21 games (but only 2 as a Blue Jay). He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart. I have no idea what size his package was/is.

More after the jump...

Rod Barajas....Consistency and the ability to play everyday, because we don't have anyone one else except....

IGNORED. Rod was pretty much consistently bad in 2009, suffering a .226/.258/.403 slash line in 125 games (splitting time with Raul Chavez), and collected just 0.8 WAR after a 1.5 WAR season in 2008.

Curtis Thigpen....The potential he seemed to have 3 years ago.

IGNORED. Curtis was designated for assignment days before reporting to spring training to make room for Brian Burres (who?) and outrighted to AAA before being traded to the A's for cash but did not play a single game for the organization.

Cito....The ability to run a pitching staff without causing any injuries and the offensive magic we all hoped he have on our batters.

GRANTED. The Jays' pitchers went through a healthy season, and the Jays had two Silver Sluggers (Hill and Lind). Even though no one knew it in 2009, Cito did sprinkle some of his magic pixie dust on utility player Jose Bautista near the end of the season.

Joe Inglett...The chance to prove that last season wasn't a fluke and, of course, not proving it was a fluke.

IGNORED. Joe Inglett had 385 PA in and hit a surprising .297/.355/.407. Joe was playing the role of Mike McCoy in 2008, optioned three times to Syracuse, but never spent more than 12 days in AAA because somehow another teammate would get injured right after he got sent down. Unfortunately "Voodoo" Joe only managed 99 PA in 36 games in 2009, splitting time with Las Vegas over 3 stints. He hit .281/.347/.348 in the Majors, and lost only had 5 XBH.

Adam Lind....Some range and a full time job. And somewhere close to that 40 home run potential we thought he'd have.

GRANTED. Santa didn't bring Adam any more range, but he didn't needed as he spent most of 2009 as the full-time designated hitter. Like Aaron Hill, Adam had a career year in 2009 and won a Silver Slugger for his .305/.370/.562, 35 HR, 46 2B, 114 RBI line. Two-thirds of his career WAR was collected in 2009 (3.3).

Marco Scutaro....Another great season with the glove, and no games in the leadoff spot. Oh, actually that last one is for me. I hate watching him hit leadoff.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. Marco had another solid season with the glove, and stepped it up with his offence. Marco, over 680 PA, hit .282/.379/.409 with 12 homers and 35 doubles, a 90-point OPS improvement compared to 2008. Sorry Tom, Marco was slotted in the lead off spot for every one of the 144 games he played in.

Gregg Zahn....A contract and role that makes him feel useful.

RETURNED TO SENDER. Santa had no record of a "Gregg Zahn" on his list (and he even checked it twice). Gregg Zaun on the other hand, signed on with the Orioles in late January 2009 and was traded to the Rays mid-season for Rhyne Hughes. He is now handling the useful role of Sportsnet's in-stadium analyst, occasional play-by-play guy on the Sportsnet 590 the FAN, and the leader of the Zauntourage.

Brad Wilkerson....Ummmm anything he wants as long as it isn't a contract from JP.

GRANTED. Brad got a minor league contract from the Red Sox before retiring after going 1-9 in Pawtucket (AAA). He is married and has three children--what more can a man ask for?

Roy Halladay....The Cy Young award he deserved last year.

IGNORED. Roy was Roy in his final season as a Blue Jay, but finished 5th in Cy Young voting to Zach Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, and CC Sabathia. He finished his tenure with the Jays with two complete game shutouts.

AJ Burnett....Nothing, he got enough from the Yankees.

GRANTED. While Santa gave A.J. nothing, he did give Jays fans this game, and of course, the gift of not having A.J. around.

BJ Ryan....A trade to the Brewers for JJ Hardy.

IGNORED. Unfortunately Alex Anthopoulos was not around back then so that type of trade would not have been possible (plus, Hardy had a down year in 2009). B.J. and his $12 million salary was released in July after he recored a 6.53 ERA, 1.887 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, and 0.76 K/BB over 20.2 innings. Did not play another game in the Majors after that.

Jose Bautista...A platoon role....hope he plays well enough to keep it.

GRANTED. He had 93 starts, mostly batting 8th and 9th. Jose had 259 PA against righties and hit .202/.331/.333, and 145 PA against lefties batting .293/.382/.537. He played well enough for the Jays to tender him a contract for 2010.

Dustin McGowan....A quick recovery.

IGNORED. Dustin would have to wait until September 6, 2011 before throwing another pitch on a Major League mound after injuring his knee in 2009 and tearing his rotator cuff in 2010 despite the team's best efforts to keep Joe Inglett the heck away from him.

Dirk Hayhurst....A new title for his blog, something like 'A Rookie in Toronto'.

MODIFIED WISH. Instead of a new blog title, Dirk got to publish a critically-acclaimed book (The Bullpen Gospels) in 2010 and is following up with a second one (Out Of My League) this coming February (I've already got it on pre-order) as well as a third one (Okay Blue Jay, about his time in Toronto) coming soon.

Scott Richmond....A fairy tale ending to an amazing story.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. Scott did get a chance to be a full-time starter in 2009, starting in 24 games and pitching 138.2 innings. However, he ended up with a 8-11 record, 5.52 ERA, 1.486 WHIP, 27 home runs surrendered, and a -0.4 WAR. His story has by no means ended, so let's wait to see if he does get his fairy tale ending.

Casey Janssen....33 starts.

IGNORED. Coming off of missing the 2008 season entirely due to injury, Casey came back in May 2009 to start 5 games before re-injuring his shoulder in mid-June. When he was recalled in mid-August, Casey slid back into his 2007 role of a one-inning guy, in which he has excelled. In 117.1 IP as a starter, Casey has a 5.45 ERA, 1.415 WHIP, 4.1 K/9, and 1.89 K/BB. As a reliever over 213.2 IP, Casey has a 2.91 ERA, 1.282 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, and 2.74 K/BB. So maybe some ignored wishes turn out well.

Jesse Litsch....A whole season like the finish of last season.

IGNORED. Jesse was injured and out for the rest of the season after two starts in 2009.

Downs, Carlson, Tallet, League.....To be just as good as last year.

IGNORED. All four of them were actually worse in 2009 than 2008.

Manny Ramirez....A new agent.

GRANTED. Manny got a new agent, a hormonal agent known as human chorionic gonadotropin.

Jeremy Accardo....See Rolen.

GRANTED. Jeremy was healthy, but started the season in Las Vegas before being recalled in mid-June. And I don't know about size of Jeremy's package either.

Russ Adams....His release and a chance to start anew somewhere else.

GRANTED. Russ was released in July, after hitting .200/.238/.200 over 21 PA with the big club in June. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres, but never played in the Majors again.

Jason Frasor....The chance to pitch in some high leverage spots, with some other team.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. Jason's average leverage index rose from .723 in 2008 to 1.451 in 2009 and had 11 saves in 14 opportunities. But because of the higher leverage, his percentage of inherited runners scored rose from 13% to 39%. Jason would stay with the Blue Jays, and set the franchise games pitched record, until July 27, 2011.

David Purcey....All the strikeouts, fewer of the walks.

IGNORED. David had 58 strikeouts and 29 walks in 2008, but only 39 strikeouts on 30 walks in 2009.

Travis Snyder....The future everyone thinks he'll have.

TO BE DETERMINED. Travis is still waiting for his chance to play full time in the Majors.

Our Minor League Prospects....A step forward.

PARTIALLY GRANTED. I guess more of them took a step forward than not.

JP Ricardi....A bit of humility and a good cheap DH.

GRANTED. J.P. was fired October 3, 2009. And he got his good, cheap DH in Adam Lind, who only cost $411,800 in 2009. His contract really isn't that bad either, $5 million in each of 2011, 2012, and 2013 with team options for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Bud Selig....Retirement.


MLB....A salary cap


The Jays....Fans, a few new sponsors and some hits with RISP.

IGNORED. Attendance dropped from 2,399,786 in 2008 to 1,876,129 in 2009 and no big new sponsors. In 2008, the Jays hit .260/.345/.390 with 366 hits, 32 HR, 529 HR, and 51 GIDP with RISP. In 2009, the Jays hite .257/.343/.406 with 364 hits, 41 HR, 524 HR, and 50 GIDP.

Hugo....More hours in a day, man the guy does a lot.

IGNORED. A day still consists of 24 hours.

Me.....Nothing, life is good....if I did ask for something, time with my boys and have them grow up just a little slower. Maybe some Blue Jay news to talk about. And a week in the sun in Mexico. Oh right, I'm getting that last one.

GRANTED. From what I know Tom is still spending a healthy amount of time with his boys, and got his Mexico trip in. And this year he is going away again.

For All of Us....Health and happiness and some good baseball.

GRANTED. I'm sure Santa granted that to most of us.

The lesson of the story is that Santa ignores more wishes than he grants, unless of course, those wishes were for Tom himself... Another lesson is to check the archives more carefully: apparently Tom did a list last year too. That might have been more relevant. Oh well, I'll cover that two years from now on a resort somewhere in the Caribbean.