Which Road Do The Jays Choose?

Blue JaysTotal Pro Sports – The baseball winter meetings have come and gone. Carsten Charles Sabathia decided to accept the 7 year 161 million dollar contract from the New York Yankees, only a couple days after telling Dodger GM Ned Colletti that he wanted to play for them. If anything it shows how much pressure the Players Union puts on players to take the most money no matter what. Further proof is that Sabathia’s contract is worth 100,000 dollars more per year than the one Johan Santana signed last year, hence why that extra million is thrown into that contract.

AJ Burnett decided to sign with the Yankees. He signed a contract for 9 million dollars less then Carlos Zambrano’s contract, which is truly mind boggling. K-Rod signed with the New York Mets for only 4 million more than he was offered before his 62 record setting save season. This signing was more about being on the big stage of New York than anything.

In other news, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Matt Clement, a player who didn’t even play in the majors last year, to a minor league contract.  Clearly the Jays are suffering not only from the crumbling economy, but a weak Canadian dollar, an owner just passing away and the belief that the team could be sold in the near future.  Frankly, things haven’t looked this bleak in a while, and that’s even before you consider: the Rays who again are looking great this coming year, the Yankees are looking a lot better and if the Red Sox add Mark Teixeira they will be another team to beat.

Here’s a look at the options the Jays have for the rest of off-season

1. Go for the playoffs – The Jays could conceivably go for a playoff run. JP Riccardi has stated that in order to add payroll, an equivalent amount needs to come off the books. When looking at the salaries of the players, only a couple players seem to have at least some trade value. Lyle Overbay has 2 years and 14 million dollars left on his contract. Trading him would almost surely mean the Jays paying some of that but he’s still somewhat valuable for his defensive play and the hope that he can regain his hitting stroke. There are rumors that the Jays are trying to gauge the interest of the Mariners, Overbay is a Washington native, so far they aren’t biting.

Another option would be to trade BJ Ryan. He’s got 2 years and 20 million left on his contract. You have to think that if a closer who set the save record can only get just under 13 million a season, that a closer who recently went through Tommy John surgery and has a reputation for making it “interesting” in the 9th inning, is not to valuable. Eating salary would also have to happen here. The Jays could wait till January and hope for some other minor league deals to pan out and fill holes in the rotation. They could also plead with Rogers Communication to allow the team to spend the 12 million that just came off the books from AJ Burnett. This is Highly unlikely that they would even ask Rogers communication, considering that they just finished laying off staff for 2008.  But with the way the economy is turning, more possible layoffs may come in the near future.

2. Don’t do anything – The Jays could simply pocket the money that was allocated for AJ Burnett.  Let the young guys like Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil take a shot at the big leagues.  Let Casey Janssen show what he can do as a starter as well as allowing bullpen arms Scott Downs and Brian Tallet a chance to show what they can do in a starting role. They could take the mentality that there’s no way they can compete this year and develop their minor league player to help contend in latter years.

3. Trade Roy Halladay and other high salaries and go through the long and painful process of rebuilding – This is obviously not what most Blue Jay fans want.I love Roy Halladay, and I love how he often states that there is something amazing about staying with the same organization for his entire career. I would love nothing more than to see Doc in a Jay’s uniform his entire career, at the same time, it’s not fair by keeping him here his entire career without a chance at winning the World Series.  By trading him within the next year, the Jays can expect to get a young pitcher ready for the majors and at least 2-3 star prospects. By making this move, not only will they help Halladay win a Championship, they will help build for the future.

Other players such as Vernon Wells and Alex Rios should also be looked at if there are trade opportunities.  This is highly unlikely considering their high priced contracts.

In the Burnett signing the Blue Jays are getting two high level draft picks for compensation, so at least the scouting team has some picks to work with.   JP Riccardi and Paul Beeston are in a wait and see approach. Cito Gaston has already stated that the Jays don’t have a chance to contend in 2009.

I appreciate the honesty, and am glad there’s no sugar coating. In my opinion, the Jays should sign one more pitcher to a minor league deal, hoping that Clement can become a starter.  Then have Halladay, Litsch in the rotation with the final two spots in the rotation going to David Purcey, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Scott Downs, Brian Tallet and Casey Janssen.  By doing this we can see if any of these guys can be reliable starting pitchers when the Jays are ready to contend.

In the field giving Adam Lind, Travis Snider as well as JP Arencibia as many at bats and playing time as possible to see what they can do. Have Arencibia learn the ropes on the job. In the next 6 weeks, we will see which road they choose.


Tags: baseball, Carsten Charles Sabathia, Johan Santana, K-Rod, Mark Teixeira, Matt Clement, MLB, new york yankees, toronto blue jays,