Digging through the bargain bin: Part 2

Tuesday, December 30, 2008  |  by 

Today the Blue Jays signed Mike Maroth, Raul Chavez, and Randy Ruiz, and Dirty Sanchez (okay not the last one, but it also ended in a Z).

All three players will be invited to spring training, which actually starts in less than two months! The Blue Jays' spring training schedule kids off February 25th against the Yankees. This is great news because once New Year's is over, there will be little to look forward to until Opening Day.

Out of the three players signed today, the brightest star is Randy Ruiz who played 22 games with the Minnesota Twins last year. His major league stats were about average, but with the Twins' minor league affiliate, Ruiz hit .320 with 17 HR and 68 RBI's.

In the everlasting search for a suitable DH, I think the Blue Jays should take a look at Sammy Sosa. He's almost like Barry Bonds, except without the league-wide hatred for him and only half the scandal!

Sosa and Bonds both sat out this past season, but recently Sosa has expressed an interest to play once again in 2009. In 2007, he played with the Texas Rangers for a mere $500,000 - and he might even be willing to play for a similar amount in 2009. Anything less than $1 million would be a steal, and if Sammy flops worse than a Vin Diesel movie, then the Jays can just cut their losses.

Have a great New Year's everyone, and here's hoping for only a one-day hangover!

Digging through the bargain bin

Monday, December 29, 2008  |  by 

You know those bins at Walmart where you always see people sifting through the $9.99 DVD's? The ones that are home to such cinematic gems as Battlefield Earth, Hot Shots Part Deux, and Little Nicky? The movies that most people (including the actors that starred in them) would rather think that were never made?

Well, today J.P. Ricciardi sifted through a similar free agent bargain bin and picked out catcher Michael Barrett. Much like Matt Clement, Barrett is another reclaim project that is a low risk/high reward possibility for the 2009 season. He was signed to a minor league deal with the hopes that Barrett might possibly be the backup for Rod Barajas. Since there was no indication that Curtis Thigpen or J.P. Arencebia were going to be the number two catcher, this somewhat solidifies the catching situation for next year.

It may not be a signing of Mark Teixeira or C.C. Sabathia proportions, but at least it's something. And the latest news is that the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking at Adam Dunn to possibly replace Manny Ramirez as their big bat. So the longer that Manny is a free agent, the better the chance that the Blue Jays can sign him at a discount.

If J.P. Ricciardi can get a big return on one of these bargain bin signings, then I won't make fun of people who dig through the $9.99 DVD bin at Walmart anymore.

Boxing Week Blowout

Saturday, December 27, 2008  |  by 

Wouldn't that be great? Well, after J.P. told Jordan Bastian that the Blue Jays were "done", the odds of the team picking up another free agent have gone from slim to none.

Of course, this approach pales in comparison to the off season strategy of the New York Yankees; which is buy the best free agents out on the market. As much as people are complaining that there needs to be a salary cap in baseball, remember that a championship cannot be bought - despite what Mr. Burns tried with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, the Yankees made a statement by signing the top 3 free agents out there on the market. They are opening a brand new stadium this year, and expectations are higher than ever. So you can't really blame the Yankees for signing the best players, and you can't blame players like Mark Teixeira for wanting to make the most money.

I guess the only hope the Blue Jays have with new players is waiting until January or February to see which players get desperate and want to take a discount to play in Toronto. Randy Johnson has already settled on San Fransisco, so the starting pitcher options are slowly becoming less and less. Carl Pavano is out there, Brad Penny, and Sidney Ponson are all available at a hefty discount.

Maybe J.P. Ricciardi is just lowering expectations in case there is the odd chance that the Blue Jays cannot sway any free agents to come play for Toronto. Why raise the bar when you can set it so low that there is no possibility of ever having to be disappointed?

'Twas The Night Before Christmas: Blue Jays Edition

Monday, December 22, 2008  |  by 

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the clubhouse,
Not a player was in sight, not even a spouse.
The jerseys were all hung in the lockers with care,
With hopes that a new free agent pitcher soon would be there.
The Blue Jays were nestled all snug in their beds,
As visions of 3rd place or better danced in their heads.
There was Beeston without socks, and J.P. in his lap,
And they had both settled in for an off season nap.
When all of a sudden there arose such a noise,
It had to be St. Nick with a new bag of toys.
With a quiet demeanor and a face like a rock,
I knew in a moment that it must be The Doc.
He did not waste time, nor did he play games,
Methodically in order he called out their names:
"Now Overbay, now Hill, now Rolen, and Scoots,
On Barajas, on Rios, and Wells to boot!"
They hadn't yet chosen a designated hitter,
As hopes of signing Manny had gone down the shitter.
The rotation was in shambles, but not to fret,
J.P. would do something, just not ... yet.
He looked to The Doc to keep the Jays in the race,
As Roy was the leader, and the reliable ace.
Doc spoke not a word and went right to work,
Like a cyborg he pushed on without even a smirk.
Then the Blue Jays prepared for 2009,
And despite all the injuries, the team would be fine.
As Ricciardi chimed in for no good reason,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good season!"

- Happy Holidays from The Blue Jay Hunter!

A.J. and C.C. - New Best Friends

Thursday, December 18, 2008  |  by 

Just when we thought there could be no friendship to equal that of A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay, it looks like Burnett has found a new best friend.

Today the New York Yankees unveiled their two latest off season acquisitions in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. From the photos of the press conference, Burnett looks as happy as a school girl who has finally made the cheerleading squad.

This was also another opportunity for Karen Burnett (wife of A.J.) to make another rare appearance. As you can see below, this is just more evidence that she took Hulk Hogan's advice and has been taking her vitamins and saying her prayers for a long time.
Karen, and A.J.'s two kids A.J. Junior and Ashton were also on hand for the ceremony.

In other pointless observations, I couldn't help but notice that it looks like either the Yankees gave Sabathia an XXXL size jersey, or he is a very, very, big boy. It almost looks as if he's wearing a dress!

We wish A.J. all the best in his new friendship with C.C. Sabathia, but remind him that there is no substitution for a good old bear hug from the Doc.

Rollie Fingers' Moustache Guide

Wednesday, December 17, 2008  |  by 

Back in November, I posted an article reviewing the Best Moustaches in Baseball. Without question, Rollie Fingers was the hands down favourite - even the results from the online poll here at The Blue Jay Hunter mirror the same thoughts, with a current landslide lead with 41 percent of all votes.

But just in case you want to sport a ‘stache just like Fingers, check out this article that breaks down how he achieves his infamous moustache. Apparently it involves something called “moustache wax”, which I never even knew existed. Maybe that would make a great holiday gift for the furry friend on your list.

Rollie Fingers’ moustache itself should be entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Give credit to a guy who wears his moustache proud at the age of 62. I'd like to see Tom Selleck try that.

Oh wait ... Sellick is 63. Nevermind.

A Final Goodbye to A.J. Burnett

Sunday, December 14, 2008  |  by 

For anyone who is having trouble letting go of A.J. Burnett, maybe watching this video I put together will ease the pain a little. Enjoy!

Burnett Cashes In

Saturday, December 13, 2008  |  by 

It looks like match ups against the New York Yankees just got a lot more interesting.

With yesterday's announcement, the Yankees have reached preliminary agreement with A.J. Burnett for a 5 year/$82.5 million dollar deal. This deal is a win/win for A.J. - he gets a boatload of cash, and by playing in New York his family stays relatively close to their home in Baltimore.

In Burnett's short history with the Blue Jays, he ruffled a lot of feathers. From two injury-plagued seasons, to his claim wanting to play in a city that "breathes and eats baseball", to his hat tip of sarcasm.

I wish no ill-will towards A.J. Burnett, in fact I hope he is successful in New York. But if he thought fans in Toronto were critical, wait until he feels the wrath of Yankees fans. These are the same fans that boo a 12-time All-Star and a 3-time AL MVP.

In retrospect, Burnett came to Toronto and did what he was paid to do: win. This past season he set career highs in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts. J.P. Ricciardi was smart not to go over the top and offer Burnett ridiculous kinds of money, even though he did have a career year. With the departure of A.J., there is now an extra $24 million off the books for the Blue Jays, which opens up salary to other players or free agents.

So long A.J. - remember, you're just a phone call away in New York. Stop by and visit sometime, won't you? Say hi to your mother for me ... okay?

J.P. rolls the dice with Matt Clement

Friday, December 12, 2008  |  by 

Luckily, J.P. Ricciardi returned back from Las Vegas with more than just a wicked hangover.

The Blue Jays officially signed pitcher Matt Clement to a minor league deal. I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I think it paves the way for Clement to hopefully be a #3 or #4 starter next year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that if he makes the team after spring training, they only have to pay him the league minimum salary which is only $400,000 dollars.

This signing comes with relitavely no risk - if Clement is a total bust in spring training, then he will just go back to waiting tables at TGI Fridays (or whatever he's been doing the past 2 years). In his All-Star season, Matt Clement went 13-6 with a 4.57 ERA in 2005. Unfortunately, he hasn't pitched in a major league park since 2006, so he might be a little bit rusty.

It might not have been the Rafael Furcal or Ben Sheets, but at least it was something. The Blue Jays didn't completely waste their time at the winter baseball meetings; coming back with at least one new player is better than coming back with none at all.

Mets bullpen is K-Putz

Thursday, December 11, 2008  |  by 

Just when it looked like the New York Mets were done rebuilding their bullpen, they added another arm to the mix. Yesterday they dealt away 7 players to bring in J.J. Putz as their new setup man. Putz will likely bounce back after having an awful year, and the New York Mets could very well have gone from the worst bullpen in the NL, to the best.

I think the new name for the Mets’ bullpen team should be “K-Putz”. Think of K-Rod and Putz as a 70’s cop duo enlisted to shut down offense in late-innings - the show premieres in early April.

Just want to say thanks to the fellas at Drunk Jays Fans for linking to us yesterday for the “Confirmed Fox: Karen Burnett” article. It appears that hundreds of folks were curious as to the level of hotness of Karen Burnett, and you were rewarded with this picture. Nice work, A.J.

In Blue Jays Winter Meetings news, J.P. is kicking the tires on a few infielders, most notably Rafael Furcal. The Jays are one of four teams in the hunt to sign Furcal, but it looks like his agent wants a 3-4 year deal upwards of $44 million. Ricciardi likely doesn’t have that kind of money to play with anyway.

Apparently, the Jays are interested in Astros third basemen Ty Wiggington. It’s no surprise that the Astros are hoping to cut payroll, but why would the Blue Jays want another corner infielder? Scott Rolen is the starting third basemen, Jose Bautista is the utility infielder, so why the need for a third third baseman? The only reason I can think of is that they’re considering trading Overbay, and they might move Bautista or whoever over to first.

As the search continues for a backup for Rod Barajas, the Jays are interested in the services of former Montreal Expo Michael Barret. With no official #2 catcher announced, J.P. might check his pocket change to see if the Jays can afford a cheaper alternative to Gregg Zaun.

Last but not least, the Yankees accountants’ are going to be working a lot of overtime, as the Yankees to prepare to spend a shitload of money on whoever they can get their hands on. After landing Sabathia, it looks like their next target is A.J. Burnett, which would make those Jays/Yankees match ups even more enjoyable to watch. I can’t wait for those divisional games next season.

Confirmed Fox: Karen Burnett

Tuesday, December 9, 2008  |  by 

Instead of offering any sort of relevant free agent or trade news today, I've opted to share a different piece of interesting Blue Jays news (besides, all you need to do is refresh your browser every 5 minutes on MLBTradeRumors.com anyway. Tim's got it all covered).

Thanks to woodpeck at The Hills are Alive for tipping us off about this possible picture of the elusive Karen Burnett, wife of A.J. Burnett. It's a photo of the wives/girlfriends of Toronto Blue Jays Players. I've drawn with arrows indicating which two of these women might be Karen Burnett, because I'm not totally sure. I also discovered a second photo below of A.J.’s wife by methods which I cannot share (*cough* Facebook search).

All we really know about her is that she is rumoured to be a former stripper, and she also apparently is not a fan of flying. As part of Burnett’s contract with the Jays, he was entitled to 8 limo trips per season for his wife from Toronto to Baltimore. If you’re curious, that’s about a 9 hour one-way trip, so Karen must really not like to fly.

Location wise, it would make most sense for A.J. to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, since his family already lives in Bowie, Maryland which is very close to Baltimore. But since the Braves are willing to offer Burnett 5 years, he might just say “F*ck It” and play with Atlanta anyway. No matter where A.J. does eventually sign, he will probably have some clause in his contract regarding transportation for his wife.

So maybe it’s not Burnett’s agent Darek Braunecker that’s calling the shots, but in fact it might be Karen Burnett that could determine where A.J. plays.

Sunday Morning Hangover

Sunday, December 7, 2008  |  by 

As the city of Toronto is focused on pigskin today, I will nurse my hangover from last night's birthday festivities. Wow, that whiskey kicked my ass! I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be at a tailgate party today. I'd probably get so drunk that I'd pass out in the parking lot and miss the game entirely.

Anyway, I have decided that I am going to make one of my New Year's resolutions a little early. In 2009, it is my goal to discover a picture of A.J. Burnett's wife. The Jays blogosphere swears by it that she is a fox, and it's my hope that in the coming new year I will be able to find photographic evidence to support these claims.

Happy hangover (football) day!

Vegas Vacation

Thursday, December 4, 2008  |  by 

Pack your bags kids, we're going to Vegas!

In any other instance, the MLB's winter meetings would be something to look forward to for Toronto Blue Jays fans. But due to recent cost-cutting measures, unfortunately the Toronto Blue Jays will likely not be in the money hunt.

While teams like Yankees, Mets, and and Red Sox are playing high-roller games of craps and 5,000/10,000 no-limit hold'em, the Jays will be in the back corner playing the nickel slots.

How depressing is it that the MLB's winter meetings are in Las Vegas, and the Blue Jays will hardly be spending a dime? Vegas is supposed to be about gambling and putting it all on the line for the ultimate payoff. Not low risk/low reward moves that will eventually payoff in 10 years. Maybe it's just the recent state of the economy, but that doesn't seem to be slowing down many other teams from spending over $100 million on player salaries.

Hell, leave Beeston's and Ricciardi's tickets behind and hand them over to somebody who could actually make the trip worthwhile - me! I've always wanted to get arrested for public intoxication in Sin City. Vegas, baby!

We’ll miss ya, Uncle Teddy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008  |  by 

I was saddened to learn this morning that the CEO of Rogers Communications Ted Rogers passed away due to heart failure. As much as we all joked around that J.P. Ricciardi was playing with Rogers’ money, Ted really was a huge media mogul in Canada. He changed the way Canadians read, watch, listen and talk.

Aside from owning the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, Rogers owns 13 magazines, 11 TV channels, and over 50 radio stations. Ted Rogers will probably be most remembered for bringing FM radio to the mainstream in Canada through CHFI in Toronto.

Rogers' acquisition of the Toronto Blue Jays was the first step in bringing the Blue Jays back into contention in the American League East by increasing team spending, and with an overhaul of the Skydome.

We’ll miss ya Uncle Teddy, we hope you’re in a better place.

Case of the Mondays - No New News Drought Edition

Monday, December 1, 2008  |  by 

Roy Halladay - Puppy Eater

If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to check out Lloyd the Barber’s post “A Day in the Existence of Roy Halladay” on Ghostrunner on First. It has my vote for Blue Jays blog post of the year, as it breaks down the Doc’s daily rituals as he sets out to be the world’s best professional pitcher. It’s a hilarious read time and time again. Even Halladay himself might crack a smile if he read it - it’s that good.

Trade Doc?

Baseball writers are obviously hallucinating from the impending winter baseball drought, as some folks are suggesting that the Blue Jays trade their most valued commodity in Roy Halladay. Listen guys, no matter how grim things look for the 2009 season, no matter what you do not trade your franchise player. I know we might be looking at a similar situation in Sundin with the Leafs, but Halladay is nowhere near close to being done playing in Toronto. If within the next 3-4 years the Blue Jays don’t make it close, do the respectable thing and give him the chance to win a ring with a contender.

Mo Money, Mo Problems

Last week, Paul Beeston said there was a chance that the Blue Jays might still have a shot at bringing A.J. Burnett back to Toronto. Beeston claimed that the Jays might opt to just save the $24 million Burnett left behind, rather than use it to sign some free agents. As a fan, hearing the news that the Blue Jays will probably just hold onto the money rather than spend it is frustrating.

As the President and General Manager of the Blue Jays, Beeston and Ricciardi should we working to build excitement for the 2009 season, not deflating expectations. Even if the team is going to be taking some cost-cutting measures, don’t tell the media that. Season ticket holders probably wouldn’t appreciate the fact that head office is just going to save some money for a rainy day, they want immediate results.

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