Toronto Blue Jays Roundtable

Another re-post.  You may notice I ripped off the answer to the final question from a previous roundtable we were involved in.....just wanted to be consistent!  If you want to check out the original post, which I highly recommend please click here.  There is also a season preview and top ten prospects list available.   

Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold from The Sporting Hippeaux and Dick Smith from 1 Blue Jays Way.

Question 1 – Did the team get enough for Roy Halladay? Would they have gotten more last July?

Trent: No. They might have gotten more, but more is still not really good enough for this team. Maybe if they had taken up Lee instead of Drabek (or maybe both) in the latter trade would they have come out somewhere near even in the long run. I think it will be asking a lot for the Jays to make up that kind of production in the AL East, considering that Halladay was the one pitcher that made all opposing lineups stand up and take notice. That’s close to 25 wins they’re going to have to make up for and that isn’t something that gets replaced with ease.

Matt: I strongly believe they could’ve gotten more if they had traded Halladay at the deadline last season, when teams would’ve had the opportunity to ride him to two postseasons before he was eligible to become a free agent, rather than just one. The failure to do so clearly led to the dismissal of J. P. Riccardi, who did a lot of good things in Toronto, but clearly bumbled and misread the market for Halladay from the beginning. That said, the package they did finally receive from Philadelphia/Oakland has some promising players in it. I expect Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace will both be in the major leagues sometime this season and could make an impact as early as 2011.

Warren: Not really. They could have gotten more last July because players closer to free agency tend to draw way to little and they could have gotten something better if he was traded in July when teams were looking for depth and a strong starting pitcher come playoff time.

Dick: Could it ever really be enough? Sorry to answer a question with a question but he was all we had to cheer for sometimes. Roy Halladay is a dominant pitcher in the major leagues. A true ace. Anything short of that in return is a downgrade.
That being said, it is unfair to evaluate this trade yet. The young player we received are all top prospects. Considering what the Twins got in return for Johan, I think we did alright.
With respect to the deadline, unfortunately our former GM was a lying piece of garbage. I tuned him out years ago. Therefore based on what he said this deal was not available back then. But he is about as truthful as Tiger Woods.
I think if we could have dealt him to Boston or the Yankees, then we could have got more. But that would have been suicide for J.P. Whatever fans we have left would have gone nuts, myself included.
Don’t forget, Doc had a no trade clause. I’m sure he said no to a few destinations with better packages…..
The way J.P. went about that entire ordeal no doubt cost him his job. Classless to the end.

Daniels: I think they got what they could for him. Players with no-trade clauses are a pain and Philly was clearly the destination they had in mind all season. Philly likely would have given them about what they gave up anyway. I still think Riccardi’s best move was to give away Halladay for peanuts to an NL team with the condition they take Vernon Wells and at least 3/4ths the salary — then pray to every deity ever conceived that Wells have an insane 2010 and opt out of his current deal. In that case, they get more than prospects — they get $23M/year to spend on people who are good at baseball.

Question 2 – How soon until we see Brett Wallace?

Matt: I think that will depend mainly on the performance/progress of Edwin Encarnacion, Travis Snider, Jose Bautista, Lyle Overbay, Randy Ruiz, and whoever else gets thrown into the 1B/3B/OF/DH mix. We won’t see Wallace before the end of May, for certain, because the Jays will be looking to set back his arbitration clock. If the above players have performed fairly well up to that point (or if Wallace hasn’t been particularly productive at AAA), then we probably won’t see him until the second half, or even September.
However, I doubt that will be the case. In all likelihood Wallace will get the call sometime in June or July. Even if Bautista, Overbay, and Ruiz play well, I think it is almost certain that the Jays would be willing to trade any one them at the deadline.
From what I can gather (I haven’t actually seen him play), Wallace makes more sense at 1B or DH than at 3B. Overbay seems like the most likely trade bait, as many contenders might covet him as a left-handed pinch-hitter and defensive replacement (see Casey Kotchman in ‘09). The Jays won’t get much in return because he has a relatively large, expiring contract, but they’d probably trade him for a 35th round draft pick at this point.

Eugene: I think it’s a monetary reason that he won’t start the season with the big league club, plus the fact they couldn’t trade Lyle Overbay. Wallace won’t be playing third, the Blue Jays have already said that; the production of Encarnacion will have nothing to do with Wallace. They had the deal lined up for Chris Snyder of Arizona, but were scared off because of medical concerns. I think they will be able to trade him, but not get much back, as Matt said.

Matt: The only reason Encarnacion’s performance/health could come into play is that impacts how they use Jose Bautista, Randy Ruiz, etc. I don’t think Encarnacion will be the player replaced in the lineup by Wallace, nor will he be a player the Jays look to trade, but if he can only play DH because of the wrist injury, that could block Wallace from that position (which may be where he makes the most sense eventually). If he can only play infrequently or not at all during his rehabilitation, that could help speed Wallace’s path to the bigs. The recovery time after wrist injuries is very difficult to gauge (see Big Papi, Derrek Lee, etc.), so I think the Jays can’t expect much from Encarnacion this season, especially in terms of power.

Dick: I’m thinking Sept. call up. Even if we trade Overbay at the deadline or before, Wallace is learning a new position. Speaking of which, why are we changing this kid to a 1B? If he is comfortable at third why move him? I have never seen him play, but a 3B is obviously more valuable than a 1B. Is he THAT bad there?
Matt brings up a good point about service time. I think our new GM is going to be schooling us all on that in the coming years. No way he lets Wallace, Drabek or the Cuban become super two’s, even if they are ready to play in the big leagues.
I like the thought of having some lefthanded power in the line up moving forward. Snider, Lind and Wallace…..

Eugene: He profiles as a first baseman; he’s got a wide base and his body has been compared to Jim Thome and Prince Fielder. I saw him briefly at the Futures Game and made a great play to his left. I still think he could be a league average third baseman if given the chance, but no one appears ready give it to him. That’s why the Cardinals traded him for Matt Holliday.
I agree, it is somewhat surprising that nobody’s been willing to give Wallace a chance at the hot corner, especially since both the Cardinals and Athletics had very little talent blocking him at that position.
After all, some bruisers have been okay there (Pablo Sandoval, Ken Caminiti, etc.). However, the trend recently has been away from playing big-time power-hitters at the position, even if they are okay defensively, as guys like Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, Aubrey Huff, and Russell Branyan all got moved across the diamond. I have to believe the main reason is to protect their health. Third baseman get hurt more often. I don’t know why that is, but it is a fact.
In Toronto, Wallace’s mediocrity at the position might be further exposed by the fact that he’d be playing 81 games a year on turf, noted for both it’s difficulty for infielders and it’s tendency to be tough on knees and backs, one of the reasons Scott Rolen was traded despite his productivity at the plate and in the field.

Eugene: Some of those guys were moved to make the team better or because they couldn’t handle the position. Pujols was moved for Rolen (well, he was first moved for Polanco since he could handle the position well and Pujols was fine in the outfield) and Youkilis was moved for Mike Lowell (and his bloated contract). Cabrera was moved because he was too out of shape to handle the position.
I don’t think this is a trend in baseball – I think this is teams trying to be better by getting the right guys in the line up and preserving their high dollar investments.

Question 3 – What should be expected of Brandon Morrow? Rotation or Bullpen?

Matt: Morrow, though he doesn’t get nearly as much press, has followed almost exactly the same career path as Joba Chamberlain. He was a first-round pick who the Mariners rushed to the majors at the age of 22, after which they bounced him back and forth from rotation to bullpen, and even to the minor-leagues, perhaps stunting his development and maybe even exacerbating his injury issues, then gave up on him shortly after he turned 25.
Morrow, like Chamberlain, has clearly been more successful (and more comfortable) in the bullpen, where his strikeout rate rises from 8.1 K/9 to 10.1 K/9 and his ERA falls from 4.42 to 3.65. However, I can see the temptation to turn him into the starter, where, if successful, he’d be much more valuable.
Whatever Toronto decides, they need to commit to it, at least for the entirety of 2010. Considering the fact that Toronto’s bullpen already has a few solid arms and there are facing injury concerns with starters McGowan, Cecil, Marcum, and Richmond, it makes sense that they try to slot him into the rotation. If it doesn’t work out, they can turn him into a late-inning reliever in 2011, at which point reinforcements will have arrived in the form of Cecil, Drabek, etc., while closer candidates Downs, Frasor, and Gregg may all have become free agents.

Dick: Brandon Morrow will start. Period. If he is unable to put it together at the Major League level, he will be optioned to AAA.
The expectations on this young man in Seattle were immense. Being drafted before Tim Lincecum tends to do that. The switch from reliever to starter and back again definitely played a large part in his availability. Sure, his numbers are better in the bullpen and he may end up being a late inning guy somewhere down the road but for the next few years he will be given every opportunity to start for us here in Toronto. If he can develop his change up, his third pitch, then his chances increase greatly that he will stick in the five man rotation.
It should be noted that he has never pitched above 70 innings in the big leagues. He will and should be capped around 100 innings this season which translates to about 20 starts. Look for reinforcements like Jesse Litsch or Shawn Hill to jump into his spot around late July.

Eugene: I had high expectations before last season for Morrow, but the way the Mariners handled him had killed my expectations. Hopefully the Blue Jays are a little better to him. I’d say give him a season in Triple A as a starter to see what he does there. If he succeeds, he’ll have a good shot at the rotation in 2011.

Question 4 – What place will the Blue Jays finish in?

Matt: The rebuilding Jays won’t be too concerned with the standings this season, which is a good thing, since it seems like last place is probably a foregone conclusion in their deep, dominant division. Anything over 70 wins would have to be considered a great sign for the future.

Dick: Dead last in the AL East, maybe even the entire AL.
We won 75 games last season and that included contributions from Scott Rolen and Alex Rios for roughly two thirds of the season. We replaced them with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. That win total also includes a full season of Roy Halladay and Marco Scutaro. We replaced them with Brandon Morrow and Alex Gonzalez. I hate to be so negative before the season even starts but I think we may be in danger of flirting with the teams fourth 100 loss season.

Eugene: While I think last is possible, the Orioles could fight them for it. It appears that Toronto at least has somewhat of a plan for rebuilding. The Orioles will be relying on a lot of young pitching, where the Blue Jays have some guys with more experience. I think in the end they’ll win last place by being a game or 2 worse than Baltimore.

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