Friday, December 11, 2009

D-Day for Jose Bautista

By

Members of the Bautista Appreciation Society, buckle yourselves in because the next 24 hours could be a bumpy ride.

We will learn by 11:59 pm on Saturday evening whether or not the Blue Jays will offer Bautista a contract and thus avoid arbitration.

Reading around the Blue Jays blogosphere and glancing through the papers, the consensus is that the Jays will in fact non-tender Bautista as he would become way too expensive as a utility infielder/outfielder.

If Bautista were to be assigned as a full-time third baseman or left fielder, the Blue Jays could easily justify spending $3 million per year. Judging by the 30 percent raise Jose received last year, one could guesstimate that he might make upwards of $3.12 million in 2010.

However, contract offers might possibly excel far beyond $3 million per year according to Bautista's FanGraphs page. While his value is ranked a little astronomical at $8.4 million, Jose could viably fetch a decent amount on the free agent market as he upped his WAR to 1.9 in 2009.

That's the thing about Jose Bautista - he could literally fit in on any team, in almost any position. Bautista is the proverbial Swiss Army Knife in the lineup.

Unfortunately as with any mighty titan, he has an Achilles Heel ... and that is right-handed pitching. His .202 batting average against righties is his kryptonite and a huge stumbling block for an everyday player.

Some promising news from the Winter Meetings - Cito Gaston said he might try using Bautista as a leadoff hitter against left-handed pitchers next season. This is a very rare occassion where I actually agree that Cito is on to something; Bautista's .382 on base percentage speaks volumes - but ONLY against right handers.

Of course, I don't want to think that September 2009 was just an anomaly, but damn ... Jose raked during the last month of the season. I start salivating when I look back at his September statistics and see those ten home runs and .944 OPS. We've seen Bautista at his worst and his best, but if September was any indication of what he's capable of, he's damn scary at his best.

I know $3 million seems like a lot of money, and it is (especially when you only have an $80 million dollar payroll to work with), but considering how many uncertainties there will be with this team on the field next season, it would be nice to have the stability and flexibility of Jose Bautista on the roster.

With a starting rotation with a core that is fairly young, the Blue Jays will need all the defense they can get to support their young starters. And Jose Bautista is a solid defensive player who is always a threat to gun down runners from the outfield or merely keep the ball in the infield.

So should the Jays let Bautista go? No way, Jose.

The defense rests its case.

9 comments:

  1. If you're the defense, Drew is the prosecution. And if you're using his September numbers to merit more time in Toronto, Drew is going to use them as the exact reason why the Jays shouldn't bring him back. It's a fascinating case, really. Drew wants to send Bautista away for LIFE.

    I'm a card-carrying member of The Bautista Appreciation Society, but I don't want him batting leadoff. The thought pains me. I'd like to see him back though. Why the fuck not? What other options do we have, really?

    Also: love that picture. Jo-Bau!!!!1

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  2. Jose Bautista is under-appreciated. I hope the Jays keep him.

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  3. Is it possible for Bautista to be under-appreciated, when The Bautista Appreciation Society exists to counter just that phenomenon? My mind just exploded.

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  4. eyebleaf, as soon as I started writing this, I knew that Drew would have a counter-post ready and waiting (which I think he already does). I think Bautista hit his way back onto the team thanks to his September numbers and they're too big to totally ignore.

    As far as the leadoff position is concerned, it's probably going to be trail and error for the first little while. There isn't really a standout candidate right now, so maybe give Bautista a shot and see how he does in Spring Training.

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  5. And yes, the under-appreciation combined with the Appreciation Society will create a tear in the time space continuum.

    Anon - glad to have you on board! Bautista is under-appreciated, one large reason for the BAS (Bautista Appreciation Society).

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  6. I don't know about him. Good September numbers never seem to translate into the following season. I'll just support whatever decision AA makes as I am a member of the AA Appreciation Society.

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  7. Bruno Van RottweillerDecember 12, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    I like Bautista for much less than 3 mill that's for sure. They need to concentrate for a decent catcher for this up and coming staff. That should be priority NO 1for AA with the Doc trade THEN sign JB for a discount. 3 mill? Try 1.5 mill...at the most.

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  8. I'm with Bruno... don't tender him, but tell him you'll take him back at a similar (but hopefully lower) price. He has his uses.

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  9. Mattt, I don't want to offer Bautista a contract strictly on his September stats, because those likely were a high-water mark for him.

    So I guess the Alex Anthopoulos Appreciation Society would be the AAAS (pronounced "ass")? I think you're on to something there Mattt.

    Bruno, in comparison to what everyone else is making on the team next year (McDonald at $1.5, Gonzalez at $2.75) I don't think $3 million is too too bad so long as they make him a starter. The problem with that (as alluded to in the post above) is that Bautista can't hit righties worth a damn, so that's why I'm a little torn.


    Dave C, I can see a scenario where Bautista does come back to the Jays without them tendering him a contract. He seems to be happy in Toronto, and there are now a lot of Dominican players in the clubhouse which he can relate to. I have a feeling that other clubs will be hovering over him though just waiting to snatch Bautista up from the Jays if they don't sign him.

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