Organizational Rankings: #20

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals

#20: Toronto Blue Jays

Ownership: C+

Being owned by a corporate conglomeration is generally not a great thing for a baseball team. While every team is run as a business, there is less incentive for the team to try to win at the expense of making money, and therefore, more emphasis is placed on profit and loss statements than on winning records. However, among corporate owners, Rogers is better than most – they’ve expanded team payroll significantly since taking over, and with a 2008 payroll of near $100 million, the Jays certainly had enough money to build a contender. Whether they will be allowed to sustain that level of payroll remains to be seen, however.

Front Office: C

J.P. Ricciardi does a lot of things well. He’s done a good job of identifying undervalued talent, has built up a terrific bullpen by acquiring players other teams didn’t want, has put an outstanding defensive team behind his pitching staff, and has built a team that is somewhat competitive in a ridiculously tough division. However, he also does a lot of things wrong; driving significant amounts of good talent out of his front office with his abrasive personality, being over-involved in draft day decisions, and publicly insulting random players for no particular reason. The team’s scouting department was dismantled when he took over, and it still hasn’t recovered. It doesn’t help that Tony LaCava is interviewing for every possible GM job that opens up, which will add to the brain drain in Toronto when his predictable departure comes to pass. At this point, it’s a legitimate question how much longer J.P. is going to be the guy calling the shots in Toronto.

Major League Talent: C+

For the last few years, the Jays have put a very good defense behind a very good pitching staff to make up for a weak offense, and it’s been somewhat successful. However, the Jays lost A.J. Burnett to free agency and both Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum are recovering from significant injuries, leaving their rotation as a land of question marks. Their deep, strong bullpen and still quality defense should allow them to cover for the loss of three good arms to a degree, but it’s going to be nearly impossible for them to have the lowest ERA in baseball again. To add to their 87 win total from last year, then, they’re going to have to score more often than they did last year, and it’s hard to see where that kind of boost is going to come from. In reality, this is a team that is going to have to fight the Orioles to stay out of last place, and that probably means they should be looking at getting young, but they have some onerous contracts on the books that won’t be easy to move and J.P. might not be willing to start a rebuilding project that would probably mean the end of his job.

Minor League Talent: B

The Jays have done a good job of drafting lately, snagging quality prospects such as Travis Snider, J.P. Arincibia, Brett Cecil, and David Cooper. Hitting on their first round picks with college players has given them a core of young players with some real upside who could be in Toronto sooner rather than later, and for a team that could use an infusion of talent, that’s a life saver. The dropoff after those four is fairly substantial, however, and while there’s some interesting players, the system isn’t deep enough to support a full scale rebuild, if that’s deemed necessary.

Overall: C+

From a micro perspective, there’s quite a bit of talent in the Toronto organization – high quality players such as Alex Rios and Roy Halladay, surrounded by good young role players such as Aaron Hill, and some useful veterans like Scott Rolen. However, from a macro perspective, the team has enough flaws to make them significant longshots to keep up with the New York/Boston/Tampa triumvirate in 2009, and another year of middling success might not save Ricciardi’s job. The Jays are in a tough division, but as the Rays have shown, a well run organization can overcome competition. The Jays don’t qualify as a well run organization right now.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

This is likely to be a quiet thread. Not sure there are many Jays fans that visit fangraphs very often.

Wish I could argue the ranking, but unfortunately it is pretty damn accurate.

I would think JP is on his last legs as GM as his 5 year rebuild is nearing 8-9 years. His draft record has been abysmal at best. Ricky Romero (an off the board pick scouts said) over Tulowitzki was another big mistake.

Thank god for Roy, the best pitcher/person in baseball. He has never once complained about the Jays dire straits playing in the AL East (best division in sports). I would have to wonder what kind of package he would bring in. Though I doubt JP is the man to bring in that package. He seems to have an pretty exlcusive list of GMs that will actually trade with him (Oakland for one) I don’t know if he keeps getting terrible offers or if he has ticked off the other teams but his trade record isn’t all that hot either.

Saying all that, the Jays could’ve been knocking on the playoffs door in a lot of other divisions the past few seasons.

Evan
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Evan
7 years 6 months ago

I think that’s unfair. His rebuild produced one of the five best teams in baseball in 2008. It just so happened that 3 of the other 4 top 5 teams were in his division.

Ricciardi’s immediate problem is that 2008 was his contention year, and he’s likely to fall back from that, and he’s going to lose Halladay before he can contend again. He did rebuild successfully, and he produced a team that probably would have won its division had it been in the AL West, AL Central, NL West, or NL East.

What he needs to do now is rebuild again – something he’s already done successfully – but chances are the owners don’t see 2008 as a successful result (even though it was) so they’ll think his first rebuild failed and fire him for starting over (and he knows it, so he won’t start over, and the entire episode will damage his resume pretty badly).

Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

The Jays were a top 5 team in 2008?

Eric Walkingshaw
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7 years 6 months ago

Matt:
It’s not such an outlandish claim. The Jays had the fourth best run-differential in baseball while playing a disproportionate number of games against the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees.

Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

I’m sorry, as an avid Jays fan I have to seriously disagree with this thought process. The division is the toughest in sports possibly but they were not a top 5 team in the majors.

There pitching was very solid, as well as defense. But there offense was brutal. A top 5 team can’t hit .264/.331/.399 as a team with 126 HRs and expect to compete in ANY division IMO.

Evan
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Evan
7 years 6 months ago

Except they were. As Eric points out, the numbers completely support the conclusion that the Toronto Blue Jays were probably the 4th best team in baseball in 2008 (behind the Red Sox, Rays, and Cubs).

Ricciardi built a solid team that would have won divisions other than the AL East (and NL Central, because the Cubs were awesome), but they looked entirely mediocre because of the strength of their schedule.

Adjusting for strength of schedule also makes Roy Halladay look better, and he should have won the Cy Young.

Dumb Sports Fan
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Dumb Sports Fan
7 years 6 months ago

If only stats won baseball games.

Eric Walkingshaw
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7 years 6 months ago

“If only stats won baseball games.”

I’m not quite sure what you mean by that. The Blue Jays won 86 games in by far the best division in baseball.

Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

You’re telling me a lineup of Scutaro/Inglett/Rios/Wells/Overbay/Rolen/Barajas/Lind/DH spot is a top 5 contender??

They were seriously lacking in offense all season, with that pitching staff, it’s a crime they didn’t finish better than that. Even an “average” MLB offense wins the pennant.

They had huge flaws, JP failed.

Matt H.
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Matt H.
7 years 6 months ago

They had flaws, but their run prevention was excellent, and they played some serious competition. They were a really good team that could have won a few other divisions.

Jon Colosimo
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Jon Colosimo
7 years 6 months ago

I think that if you ask any Blue Jays fan (or read the comment section of any Blue Jays article on the Toronto Star), Ricciardi should have lost his job a couple seasons ago.

The minor league system does have a few good players now, but an ill-conceived draft strategy of only selecting college players with the top round pick hurt J.P. when he first took over the team. Thus, the best home-grown players on the team are holdovers from the Gord Ash era (Halladay, Wells, and Rios).

In addition, Ricciardi has made some bad signings and trades that hurt payroll flexibility. The back-end of Vernon Wells’ huge contract starts to kick-in in 2010, so he’ll be making over $20 million from ’10 to ’14. In fact, the Jays owe over $82 million to just 8 players in 2010:

Wells – $21 million (including signing bonus)
Halladay – $15.75 million
Rolen – $11 million
Ryan – $10 million
Rios – $9.7 million
Overbay – $7 million
Downs – $4 million
Hill – $4 million

Granted, the contracts of Ryan, Rolen, and Halladay can come off the books after 2010, but the organization will handcuffed if trying to make any significant moves for next year. The best that Jays fans can hope for is that some of the young players mentioned in Mr. Cameron’s article develop quickly and can make the team competitive for a playoff spot in 2011.

Bodhizefa
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Bodhizefa
7 years 6 months ago

Give me the Cards over the Jays any day of the week.

Shhh
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Shhh
7 years 6 months ago

Cards vs. Blue Jays grades:
Ownership: B- vs. C+
Front Office: C vs. C
Major League Talent: B- vs. C+
Minor League Talent: B vs. B

So they are even in two categories, and the Cards lead in the other two categories, yet the Blue Jays are ranked ahead of the Cardinals. Seems kind of weird.

Andrew
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Andrew
7 years 6 months ago

Makes very little sense at all.

Aaron/YYZ
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Aaron/YYZ
7 years 6 months ago

I’ll take Strength of Schedule for 1000, Alex.

JI
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JI
7 years 6 months ago

Yes because all these four areas are the only criteria on which the teams are being judged, and they are all weighted evenly. If only someone had explained this whole system to us…

Andrew
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Andrew
7 years 6 months ago

It matters not how you weigh them, if the Cards are even or better in all four.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

To basically repeat the first part of JI’s comment:

But why are we assuming he just did a GPA calculation? Aren’t there issues on the fringes that make a difference that aren’t in the four major categories?

For example, lame duck or not, JP is more likely than Mozeliak to trade away his top MLB talent to improve the farm system. This would go a long way to decreasing the time to contention for the Jay’s relative to the Cards. So even though the Cards may have more MLB talent, much of that talent is likely to be gone, and not traded for younger talent, by the time the put together a contending team. So, in short, its not just an addition of the grades, its how well all of the factors involve interact.

Also, I think we should basically see these two spots as a tie.

Will
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Will
7 years 6 months ago

This wouldn’t be an issue time after time if Dave just explained his methodology better. Which values are more important than others? What are the other factors?

As such, Shhh’s point is just as valid as anyone else’s point regarding how the categories are logically or illogically valued until Dave explains otherwise.

If Dave has explained this in the comments somewhere, please point it out to me, because I have yet to see anything other than “It is not an average.”

drew
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drew
7 years 6 months ago

I’d have to agree. If this is “evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future” I can’t imagine given the the divisions that they play in you can rank the Cards (and the amazing Albert) behind the Jays. I’d almost be willing to argue the Cards have a better chance of making to the World Series again before the Jays make it to the playoffs.

tom s.
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tom s.
7 years 6 months ago

yeah, i don’t see how you can rank the jays over the cardinals here. there are some glaring comparisons to be made here.

in the GM department, dave touts ricciardi’s talent-spotting. the cards recognized that eckstein was on a serious downslope and his defense was falling off a cliff. when they let him walk, the jays picked him up, and he predictably crashed and was released. the cards clearly got the upper hand in the rolen/glaus trade. while mozeliak has handcuffed the cards somewhat on payroll — pineiro’s contract is up at the end of the season, leaving lohse’s contract as the only other one for which mozeliak is responsible — they have more payroll flexibility than toronto.

and that vernon wells contract is just sick. carpenter may get better, costs less, and at any rate, we’ll be done with him before 2014.

dave gave st. louis scores of b-/c/b-/b/c+overall, and gave toronto c+/c/c+/b/c+ overall. does that even make sense? two of the grades are the same, and on the other two, st. louis ranks better (b- to c+), yet dave still ranks toronto higher? dave gives all these caveats about how the pitching will decline, and the division is too tough, etc. he gives the two farms the same grade. so how is toronto more likely to win the series this year or any time in the next five years than st. louis?

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Seems like a lot of us predicted this one, so who’s up next? Just eyeballing it, it seems like this section is probably the hardest to rank. I’d say M’s then Giants. Both have certain parts that are pretty good, but others that are not so good. I’m loving this series.

Bodhizefa
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Bodhizefa
7 years 6 months ago

My personal belief is that the White Sox should be coming up very soon. Also, it may be blasphemous to New York fans, but the Mets have gone a long way towards squandering the awesome core talent they assembled years ago and now look to have a diminishing window of returns.

I wish I could add more on the Jays’ situation, but they’re simply one of the most uninteresting organizations in baseball to me. More power to their defensive-oriented tactics, but I only enjoy their team on one day — Halladay.

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

The Ms probably won’t make an appearance for another few spots at least. Dave has been a very vocal fan of the team’s new front office.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Bodhizefa: Yes, I too think the White Sox should show up soon as well. But I think the fact that the White Sox stand a reasonable chance to compete this year holds them above the M’s and Giants and the assumption that they are going to start heading down the right track after several years of aimlessness. Though I do agree that after 2009, the Sox look pretty bad off.

JH: I know that about Dave, but I’m kind of counting an objective evaluation of the M’s FO being that it looks promising, but we just don’t really know enough about them yet. Sure, Zduriencik was part of a pretty good operation in Milwaukee, but he was *just* the assistant GM for a year and the scouting direct for 3. So…. lets see how he handles actually being the GM. Objectively, I just can’t see how you give him a very high mark when so little is known. Their MLB roster is very weak, and the farm system is just about average. Then ownership? Seems they are mixed bag. They invest, but they also meddle. Maybe you give the GM the benefit of the doubt and give him a B+. The major league roster has to be low, C- at best. The farm, C. Ownership, B? Sounds about like a B-/C+, to me.

ThundaPC
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ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

Wally,

We know enough about the M’s FO to know that so far it’s been amazingly awesome. It’s everything knowledgeable M’s fans wanted. Zduriencik’s team gets it.

I have no idea how the M’s organization as a whole stacks up with the rest of baseball but I know despite coming off a 100-loss season, as an M’s fan myself, the future REALLY looks good.

I’ll spend more time on that when they’re finally posted though.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Look, I agree Zduriencik is a pretty smart guy that he will surely help this club. My thing is that we can’t rank him too far up towards the top of the GMs because he just doesn’t have the history. I just can’t give him an A or A- in this ranking system, BA’s ex of the year award or not. Also, people need to remember a B+ is pretty darn good, especially for a guy that has ~3 months GM experience. Unfortunately for M’s fans, the rest of the organization doesn’t match him, yet. So the process to get the M’s into contention is going to take several years. This is assuming Zduriencik doesn’t have some flaw his previous jobs didn’t expose that would hinder the team’s development.

Anyway, I expect the M’s within the next 3 slots. If they aren’t, I’m guessing Dave’s bias will have gotten in the way and lead him to overrate the GM, and maybe the farm system. I’m betting he’ll be pretty fair with ownership and its hard to deny the big league roster is pretty bad.

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

If the rankings are about overall position, I think the Mariners grade out higher. A good GM with a payroll near $100 million can do a lot of really great things. So far, Z has been everything the analytical community could possibly want from a GM. He has a strong scouting background, he’s brought in talented people (including Tango) to build a statistical analysis division, and he’s shown a knack for pulling off good value moves and understanding replacement level.

The minor league system is one that tends to get undervalued by BA, who focuses on all the team’s high risk, high reward guys at the top, and ignore the value of guys like Matt Tuiasosopo and Mike Carp, who are within striking distance of becoming 2WAR players in the next year or two, but whose tools don’t scream out star potential.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

JH, I understand that a good GM is probably the most important factor for long term success. But as this ranking is defined, I think we need to give more weight to the immediate situation than you seem to be giving it. How soon do you think the M’s can compete for a WS title? 2009 is out, so is 2010. The talent is just not there to be competitive that soon. This is going to take probably 4 years, and how far out should we be looking? I don’t think we can really predict anything out farther than 6 years. Sense in that time the ownership/GMs can change and completely rework the entire franchise. So, how many teams are left that won’t be seriously competing for a tittle in the next 4 years? Now that that Giants have dropped off, the Sox might be up next. But then? Maybe Baltimore or Texas? The Twins? But all of those teams have better starting positions in terms of MLB talent and/or the farm system. Just how much is a GM with a short track record worth, no matter how good it is?

I can picture the M’s ahead of the White Sox, but that’s about it. And I’m calling BS if the M’s end up ahead of the next group as well (which I predict should be the O’s, Rangers and Twins in some order).

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

Dave will cover this whenever he gets to the Mariners, but I’m not entirely sure 2009 is out. It’s a longshot, but there is a non-zero chance of several guys reaching a higher level of performance than they’ve ever experienced. Clement, Felix, Morrow, Lopez, Gutierrez, Balentien (long shot IMO), Mark Lowe, and Cedeno all have the potential to take a significant step forward. These players don’t all have the same upsides – far from it – but there’s potential from each of these guys to surprise you.

On the veteran side, Beltre, Ichiro, and Bedard can all potentially produce at a much higher level than they did in ’07.

CHONE sees the MS as a 78-win team, and the projects the best team in the division (Angels) at 85 wins. A breakout or two and a little luck and the Ms could easily find themselves competitive in a weak division.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Well there is another team between 78 and 85 wins right? (The most recent Pecota has the A’s and Angels tied at 84 and the M’s at 76) That has to bring the M’s chances way down. And if we’re gonna start saying teams predicted to be 7-8 wins back has a significant chance to compete (from 3rd place no less) this list gets kinda boring right?

So, while the chances are certainly non-zero, so is just about everything. We’re talking realistic chances here. And I don’t find it very likely that 2 teams under perform while the 3rd over performs enough to make up 8 games. That 8 games has to be at the edge of overlapping confidence interval AND we have that second team in front of them. Say its a 10% chance the Angels only win 80 games or less, a 10% chance the A’s win 80 games or less, and a 10% chance the M’s win 80 games or more…. That’s not good odds (.1%). It isn’t good odds even if you bump it to 30% (2.7%), and that’s gotta be way too much.

ThundaPC
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ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

I’m trying not to spend too much time talking about the Mariners in a non-Mariner post.

But really, the Front Office has been upgraded to be arguably one of the best in baseball. Ownership is probably above average despite some screwy tendancies. The Major League roster is pretty decent with ephasis on defense but lacking offense (it’s not bad, though). Most of the heavy contracts come off the books this year so the only bad contract going into 2010 belongs to a decent back-end starter being paid $12 Million a year (Carlos Silva). Upwards $40 Million is coming off the books and considering what Zduriencik has done already with virtually no payroll space due to cutbacks and contract clogs, he’s only just beginning. Mariner’s farm system is bottom-loaded. Zduriencik has been credited for beefing up the Brewers’ farm system and he’s already improved the M’s system a little in an offseason where he’s still trying to get a feel for the organization.

Mariners can contend as early as 2010 (outside shot of contending even this year). In 3-5 years this organization is likely to be in fantastic shape from top to bottom.

This organization is certainly in better shape than the teams already listed and then some.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

I’m sorry but “one of the best in baseball?” That FO has been there for 3 months. I’m not exactly sure how you can say that. I can go with something around 10th best, but by “one of the best” I’m thinking you mean around top 3. However, with out much of a track record, that notion seems terribly ridiculus.

By outside chance of competing this year, I assume you mean like under 5% right?

And the major league roster is below average, at best. If they were any better, why would they be expected to win 76-78 games?

I’m not really trying to drag the M’s through the mud here. I think they are making big strides foward and are pushing average (thats pretty darn good for a team that just lost 100 games, and when 8 teams make the playoffs roughly half are by definition in contention), but its sounding like there are a lot of fanboys drinking the kool-aid around here.

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

PECOTA’s obsolete at this point. Nate Silver did some great work and it’s still not a bad offensive projection tool, but it’s way behind the curve on defensive analysis.

CHONE has the Angelsa t 85 and the A’s at 81. Nobody was calling the Mariners frontrunners, but a 7-game split is within the range that good luck in actual W/L vs. pythagorean W/L can get a team in. A couple of things go right with players with upside, and you close that gap quickly.

The Mariners’ playoff odds are probably somewhere around 15-20% in a weak AL West. With a bunch of youth and expiring contracts, a high budget, and what looks like a very good front office, they’re in a pretty good place moving forward, and I don’t expect to see them for a few more spots at least.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Sorry, but 7 games is not that easy to make up, particularly when you have 2 teams to pass. The confidence interval on the pythag is +/- 4 games. That means if we assume the Angels and M’s RS vs. RA holds up, it would be just inside the CI (meaning its about a 10-20% chance for both teams to be in the needed range). Add in the A’s (at 81 or 84 it hardly matters) as another team to pass, and math just isn’t anywhere close to 15-20% of the M’s winning the division. Lets say its a 20% chance the M’s get over 81, a 20% chance the Angels are under 81, and a 50% chance the A’s are under 81 (.2*.2*.5), and you have a 2% chance….. But you know you just pull numbers out of a hat if you want.

And I’m not so sure “obsolete” is the word you’re looking for there. I’m betting if you did a meta-analysis using PECOTA and CHONE, you’d be better off with both than just CHONE… So, I’ll look at both, and yeah probably give more weight to CHONE, end figure its going to be something in the middle.

Wally
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Wally
7 years 6 months ago

Also, looking at those CHONE projections, they were last updated on February 22nd. That’s before the Cabrera and Nomar signings. Those two signings are probably worth something like 2, maybe…3, wins. Which gets us back to roughly PECOTA’s projections, which were updated just yesterday.

ThundaPC
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ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

Well, my uninformed opinion of the Blue Jays organization was certainly clouded. They’re worse off than I thought they were (even though there were plenty of indications that they aren’t all that great).

But it makes complete sense that they’re on the lower end of the organizational totem pole. A 5-year plan that’s gone well beyond 5 years (as our current Seattle beat writer/former Blue Jays beat writer Geoff Baker can attest to) and the end result is always being at least a step behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Rays have proven that it is possible for a non-Red Sox/Yankee team can compete in the AL East. Blue Jays are running out of excuses.

Stanley
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Stanley
7 years 6 months ago

@Matt

JP is a lame duck GM and he knows it. Look what he did this off season. Once Paul Beeston finds someone to permanently take over as CEO and president of the Jays, things will at least become more interesting. This season is a bridge year to what I hope is a new regime.

(The front office grade of C is way too generous).

Aaron/YYZ
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Aaron/YYZ
7 years 6 months ago

As Dave alluded to, JP is very good at finding role players but also quite good at handing out large contracts offensively limited players (Overbay, Wells, Eckstein, Barajas, Hinske, even Rios to some degree). The best hitters on the Jays (ignoring the rookies for this year) are likely Wells and Rios, both of whom are better suited to the 6th spot in the order on a really good team due to their career ~.330 OBP’s. They’ve utterly failed to replace Delgado’s bat since he walked/was driven out of town after 2004.

Essentially, the roster is filled with fantastic roleplayers that are miscast as core players. Pretty much any hitter on the roster would be an amazing 6, 7, or 8 hitter on a playoff-type team. You just can’t be trying to hit them in the 2, 3, or 4 spot and expect to go anywhere.

Oh, you also failed to mention how the team breaks pitchers with startling regularity. According to Will Carroll, it’s a systematic organizational thing and _not_ just bad luck.

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

Rios is signed to a very friendly contract that pays him through his age 33 season. Barring an injury that saps him of his defensive value that contract should be a pretty good one.

Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

Agreed. Take into account slight offensive/power upside, solid CF/RF defense and base running. I’ll take that contract any day of the week…. Wells, on the other hand….

Aaron/YYZ
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Aaron/YYZ
7 years 6 months ago

I was more referring to Rios in the “offensively limited” idea than the beating on the Rios contract (which I happen to like as well)… my bad for not being clear or even grammatically correct in that sentence.

I believe the overall point still stands.

Ted
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Ted
7 years 6 months ago

Good ranking, The Blue Jays are waaaay more likely to make the playoffs, win the world series, and continue to be a great team compared to the Cardinals.

Jeff Nye
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7 years 6 months ago

Right, because 21 vs. 20 is an enormous difference.

Really, the comments on these rankings have been atrocious. If you think you can do a better job, do it yourself.

Bodhizefa
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Bodhizefa
7 years 6 months ago

The comment policing by the overseers and general attitude towards almost all visitors at USSM has become pretty massively distracting for me, so the openness of this forum is fairly refreshing. I’d much rather the readers be the judge of any one poster’s stupidity and not be told who is or who isn’t worthy of being able to post an opinion or thought. Comment policing is a pretty silly practice if you ask me. More power to FanGraphs for its hands-off approach in this matter.

harvey
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harvey
7 years 6 months ago

Question for Jeff, do you get paid to agree with everything Dave Cameron writes?

manifestus
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manifestus
7 years 6 months ago

The whole point of having comments is … to have people comment. In this, my opinion is that the system of ranking really is pretty arbitrary, but I’m okay with it. That said, you shouldn’t really get all snarky about comments deriding the haphazard ranking process. And it is haphazard at best (imho).

JH
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JH
7 years 6 months ago

If you find the system arbitrary, then why not focus on the analysis, and accept that there will be differences of agreement within tiers? A system’s ranking of 21 or 20 based on any number of factors not specifically enumerated in the format really shouldn’t get this many people up in arms.

Aaron/YYZ
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Aaron/YYZ
7 years 6 months ago

Not sure if you’re being sarcastic, but while the ceiling for the Jays might not be as high as for the Cards, the floor isn’t nearly as low either. The Jays are pretty much the definition of a team designed to finish around .500 come hell or high water.

Bodhizefa
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Bodhizefa
7 years 6 months ago

But is that a good thing? As a fan, do you consider it a stronger organizational aspect to be a perpetual .500 team or a possible playoff contender? I know who I’d pick.

manifestus
Guest
manifestus
7 years 6 months ago

Particularly given the whole focus on the Cards’ “window of opportunity” piece that’s shuttled around … one would think this whole “stuck at .500” bit would = bad, considering the division.

ThundaPC
Guest
ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

That’s a good question, unless the “possible playoff contender” in question is the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the last three years the Cardinals have had similar records to the Blue Jays with both teams finishing with the same record and the same spot in their respective divisions.

Neither team’s fans should be comfortable where they are. Blue Jays’ road looks steeper but they know where the Wild Card is likely to come from (AL East). Cardinals road isn’t as steep but the Wild Card is less certain and more dependent on how top teams in the other division do. Plus, now they’re dealing with the Cubs in their own division.

The only advantage the Cardinals have over the Blue Jays is that they have a better chance to luck their way into the World Series (and it’s not a big advantage either).

ThundaPC
Guest
ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

2nd paragraph should read:

“In the last three years the Cardinals have had similar records to the Blue Jays with both teams finishing with the same record and the same spot in their respective divisions in 2008.”

Ted
Guest
Ted
7 years 6 months ago

Great point. the cardinals and the Jays have had about the same record for the past 3 years. And this is exactly why the Cardinals should be ahead of the Jays. During that time the Cardinals made the playoffs and won the World Series, yet the Jays have not made the playoffs, and will never make the playoffs with a mid-80s record.

Therefore the Cardinals have a better chance to make the playoffs and be successful (Because the entire point of the season is to win the World Series) and since the Jays are in the AL East they have no chance of winning the World Series or even make the playoffs with a middle of the 80s teams

Evan
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Evan
7 years 6 months ago

“In the last three years the Cardinals have had similar records to the Blue Jays with both teams finishing with the same record and the same spot in their respective divisions.”

But the Cards play in a much weaker division, and thus face an easier schedule.

ThundaPC
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ThundaPC
7 years 6 months ago

“But the Cards play in a much weaker division, and thus face an easier schedule.”

Doesn’t that make the Cards worse than the Blue Jays?

Milendriel
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Milendriel
7 years 6 months ago

Explain to me how the league or division a team plays in is within their control.

tom s.
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tom s.
7 years 6 months ago

it doesn’t make the cards better. however, since the stated (over and over again) purpose of the whole rankings is

“we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. ”

so, yes, if the debate were, who would most likely win a best-3-of-5 series, i’d take the jays. but if you are asking who would most likely win the ws, it’s the cardinals.

in large part because they might just luck into the playoffs and play a hot hand into the world series. not that that would ever ever happen.

Matt
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Matt
7 years 6 months ago

“But the Cards play in a much weaker division, and thus face an easier schedule.”

Doesn’t that make the Cards worse than the Blue Jays?
_______________________________________________________

NOT if the intention is rank teams on their likelihood of winning a World Series. The Jays have a much bigger hill to climb (Red Sox, Yankees, Rays) to even GET into the playoffs than the Cardinals do. They consistently have to compete against two of the higher spending teams and better FO’s in the game. The fact that they play two perennial playoff contenders nearly 40 times a year is a huge knock on the Jays’ chances of making the playoffs or the WS.

Basically, the point is that these evaluations cannot be done in a vacuum. We must not simply assume that because team X has a better FO, better scouting, and a better team that they are inherently more likely to win a World Series. For example, imagine if I moved the Dodgers from the NL to the AL East. Wouldn’t you agree that their chances of making the playoffs just declined dramatically? That’s why it’s a tough pill to swallow that the Jays are ranked ahead of the Cardinals. They might be a better team, but they face much stiffer competition.

Jeff
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Jeff
7 years 6 months ago

A couple of other points re the Jays organization is that despite being corporate owned, Ted Rogers was essentially the owner but used he cable company as a holding vehicle. Now that he is deceased it will be interesting to see how the corporate entity treats the Jays. Combined with the resignation of Paul Beeston, the Jays ownership situation is likely to face considerable turmoil. And currently that turmoil is reflected in the team’s inertia.

The second key to assessing the team is the exchange rate. The increase in payroll paralleled the strengthening Canadian dollar. Following the economic collaspe, the Canadian dollar lost all of its gains and the payroll is likely going to have to decrease. I suspect that when a new CEO is appointed and JP is fired (and who expects him to quietly?), the new GM will be tasked with some major cost cutting.

Tom_Seattle
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Tom_Seattle
7 years 6 months ago

Ted- You are bringing a kindergarten-grade level of analysis to the discussion and in the words of the moderator in Billy Madison- Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.

I cannot believe the number of people who see a purely subjective article appear and suddenly feel the need to start gathering rocks. It’s like the chimp in Stockholm who starts throwing things at visitors because he realizes his future is doomed to living in a cage. Sad really.

I hope in the future we will have the ability to block comments from people like harvey, SleepyCA, Ted et al. who contribute nothing and would appear to be fairly miserable people.

Ted
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Ted
7 years 6 months ago

Alright “Tom_Seattle” well if you even read the article you would see the before the rankings the entire bases for the rankings was: “we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future.”

Since the nature of lists is subjective, and they are put on a website such as this one to create debate between fans about where the teams should fall I don’t understand you complete hatred of someone trying to argue that the power house Blue Jays do NOT have a better chance of winning the world series in the forseeable future. Sorry if everyone doesn’t always agree with you Tom. Maybe you should read what I wrote in stead of calling me a kindergartner.

Lets see my points so far why the Jays should be behind the Cardinals in a list about who has the better chance in the future of winning the World Series:
1. Jays play in a harder division
2. Jays have had the same record as the Cardinals the last three years and yet the Cardinals have won a World Series
3. The Jays in the AL will most likely not be able to make the playoffs with a mid-80s team

additional points:
4. Jays have about the same level of talent that the Cards do, maybe even less if Carpenter is healthy
5. 1 team in the division spends a lot of money, and has awful contracts coming up next year; whereas the Red Sox and Yankees are both in the Jays division. Again making it even harder for the Jays to make the playoffs (much less win the World Series)

So I’m sorry if people are commenting about your “boy” from Seattle’s article and everyone doesn’t agree with them. There wouldn’t be much of a reason for a comment section if all the comments were ‘great job’, ‘how do you write so well?’ ‘you made some of the best arguments I have ever heard’, ‘your right’

Please Tom why don’t you just take a break for a while and maybe a team from Seattle will be good again in the next 5-10 years

Milendriel
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Milendriel
7 years 6 months ago

Except pretty much everything you listed isn’t within the Jays’ ability to control, so I don’t see how it can be counted against them. Given that you admit they have “about the same level of talent,” then should we be surprised to see them next to each other in the rankings? Dave already mentioned that 15-24 or so would be rather difficult to differentiate.

Andrew
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Andrew
7 years 6 months ago

But the things not in their control are the very things that will make it extremely difficult for them to win a WS (or even make the playoffs), as compared to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Milendriel
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Milendriel
7 years 6 months ago

But that context doesn’t tell us anything about the actual health of the specific franchises.

Ted
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Ted
7 years 6 months ago

Milendriel: I did not define what the health of a franchise meant Dave did when he wrote: “we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.”

So to him Health of a franchise = ability to content for a World Series

Unfortunately for teams playing in the AL and especially the AL East context means a whole lot. Would the Jays have a legit shot of winning the Wild Card in the NL, maybe. But they don’t play in the NL; therefore there chances of competing for a World Series go down. Is it fair? Maybe not but because of this they must build their teams around winning in the environment in which they compete.

Elliot
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Elliot
7 years 6 months ago

Using Bill James reasoning one could observe the following about Toronto:
It is a SABR fact that if for a 100 consecutive years you scored and allowed the number of runs per game that the Jays did last year -you would average 94 wins/year. 86 is about as bad/unlucky as you can do –and 102 would be just as likely.
Where is the problem –I find 90% of the time the variance occurs in one-run games –games that have a drag effect –they drag all teams toward .500 records (a .600 team would play on average around .540 to .550 in those games per year and a .400 team about .440 and .450, etc.). Since most teams play about 40 one-run games per year –every year there are a few teams with such a significant variance –it brings them either in (MIlwaukee/Tampa –or St. Louis when they beat Detroit) or out (Toronto/Mets) of the playoffs. Most of the time they play where they should or it doesn’t matter.
Bill James’s “Plexiglass Principle” predicts that if you were an outlier one year it generally corrects the next -the problem for Toronto was that it will correct in the wrong year.

Then you can break down the variances within the runs scored and allowed to see if that data was accurate –ie did they score or allow the number of runs predicted. Toronto is a pitcher’s park and, therefore, one would expect that the ERAC of the pitchers would be higher than expected -that they would have allowed more runs than expected for the number of singles/doubles/triples/homers allowed — but theirs’ were lower — thus suggesting that the relievers in particular were actually lucky and the same Plexiglass Principle predicts a decline ie more runs allowed than expected this year.
You can expect their offence will be a little better but their pitching will not be –and they will very likely have a much better record in their one-run games — just not enough to contend.

Derek
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Derek
7 years 6 months ago

To Jeff’s comment @ March 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm.

The part you mentioned about the rise of the Jays’ payroll being due to the strength of the Canadian dollar is false. Rogers gave the organization a set amount of payroll over a three-year span. Because of how much of that payroll they had used the first three years, they were able to bring it upwards of $100M. The strengthening of the Canadian dollar did not have an effect on the Jays’ payroll as the front office assumed, just like everyone else, that it was to go down again.

Onto the topic at hand…I read Matt B. mention above that “even a Jays fan” will tell you that they weren’t that good and that JP should have lost his job years ago. I strongly disagree. Like many have mentioned, their Pythagorean record had them winning 94 games. As far as JP goes, I’d let him stick around. He did an incredible job of rebuilding the farm system.

The first thing you always do is look at the big time prospects that he drafted who have prospered and then look at the big time prospects that exist now…like Snider, Cecil, Cooper, etc. But what about the other guys? Jesse Litsch has had a sub 4.00 ERA in back-to-back years (I agree that he isn’t THAT good though, and he has been a product of good defense and some luck). What about Shaun Marcum? Casey Janssen? Or how well he has traded — dumping Koskie’s salary on the Brewers and getting Brian Wolfe? Shipping Hillenbrand out of town for Jeremy Accardo?

Matt B.
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Matt B.
7 years 6 months ago

Unfortunately, all those players you mention were taken much too late into his regime. Where are all of his picks of 5-7 years ago? Either not in the league, or not helping the Jays. If he hadn’t been so stubborn and ‘college’ happy in the draft, most of the players would be turning 23-27 and would’ve seriously helped the Jays last year and the year before when there pitching was good enough to beat anybody. Where was the help?

JP is not the worst executive out there, but he certainly isn’t the best. Toronto is probably the 2nd toughest media market in the world, and he does take some undue heat at times but I don’t think he has done enough in 8 years to justify another LT contract.

brent
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brent
7 years 6 months ago

1. the five-year plan was purely a media creation
2. a few writers have a serious axe to grind with JP and have bee ridiculed for their sloppy work
3. it would have been impossible for Toronto to have Glaus play that many games because of his foot. This trade was a win for St. Louis but it was also worth it for Toronto

Derek
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Derek
7 years 6 months ago

Agreed. Not quite sure how after one year we can judge the trade as a win for the Cards. I think Rolen will outplay Glaus this year.

Rob in CT
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Rob in CT
7 years 6 months ago

The Blue Jays have put together some solid teams – excellent run prevention with below-average offense. Take them out of the AL East, and they would have made the playoffs several times in the recent past. Unfortunately for them, they are in the AL East…

DR
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DR
7 years 6 months ago

The Jays and Rays had almost identical runs scored/runs allowed last year, but Tampa won a dozen more games. It’s just not fair.

JP’s drafting was mediocre (lots of decent 3rd starters/relievers) when he was MR College and he gave up on South America. It’s improved since then.

David in Fredericton NB
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David in Fredericton NB
7 years 6 months ago

I agree with ROB from CT. The Jays have solid teams and could have won a playoff spot if:

1. They did not have a few years of huge injury numbers affecting them (way more than the other division contenders)
2. A hitting coach that told them not to hit and wait til you are deep in the count and ruined the natural hitting agressiveness of some of the Jays hitters (Dumbo … er Denbo)
3. Inexperienced manager who was too by the book and did not have that managers feel ie. when to take a pitcher out

If you look at the stats since Cito came back, you see the same players but the stats were much better even near the top of the AL East including wins. They were just too far back.

This year look for the offense to come back to what is should have been maybe not Yankee or RedSox. Unfortunately again injuries have probably the Jays but if luck balances out over time maybe the Jays young pitchers will be a surpise and make the Jays the sleeper team.

Any comments?

SP
Guest
SP
7 years 6 months ago

Really unfortunate to see some very ignorant/cavemen Jays fans here. I promise you, there are very smart Jays fans out there and most of them agree that Ricciardi has done a good to very good job with the team in recent years, especially considering the circumstances. He started in 2002 and was immediately asked to reduce payroll, which meant he didn’t have an adequate payroll for the AL East until 2006. In that time he had to make an embarrassing $6M offer to Delgado after 2004 because of lack of money and had to focus on cutting payroll and drafting college players. He still is not allowed to pay over slot for draft picks.

A list of his good/great moves in point-form

-Dumped Raul Mondesi, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Quantrill, Brad Fullmer, and Dan Plesac to clear salary early in his tenure
-Used an asset in Orlando Hudson to fill another need. Aaron Hill was coming up and there was a need for a power hitter and a 3B, so Troy Glaus was a great fit
-Turned Glaus into Scott Rolen, when Glaus demanded a trade. That’s a great return for a trade demand
-Got Eric Hinske, who was ROY, then got fat (not JP’s fault)
-Signed Frank Catalanotto
-Signed Gregg Zaun (he was underrated)
-Stole Lyle Overbay for very little (Bush, Gross, and Jackson)
-Got Bobby Kielty for soon to be FA Shannon Stewart who he couldn’t afford at his payroll at the time
-Traded Bobby Kielty for Ted Lilly (fleeced Billy Beane)
-Got Justin Speier in a 3-way trade for Mark Hendrickson
-Stole Tallet for nothing
-Signed Scott Downs
-Signed BJ Ryan who has been excellent despite the big contract and the TJ surgery
-Stole Accardo for Hillenbrand
-Got John McDonald, an amazing fielder, for nothing
-Signed Stairs when everyone pretty much gave up on him
-Re-signed Halladay, Hill, Rios for great deals
-Drafted Marcum, Hill, Lind, Janssen, Litsch, Purcey, Snider and the promising 2007 class
-Traded for Scutaro (fleeced Beane again)
-Has never made a god awful trade like Young for Loaiza or Sirotka for Wells. Actually he hasn’t made a bad trade ever and instead has made some steals.

The bad moves

-The Frank Thomas signing. Should not have been given 2 years with a vesting option for a 3rd. Way too much for a 39 year old. He did have a good first year, maybe the best hitter on the team that year. But he had to be released at the beginning of the 2nd year to avoid the 3rd year and it created the situation where Reed Johnson had to be released so Stairs could DH and an everyday player could play in RF.
-The Wells contract. The vast majority of Jays fans agree that this was President Paul Godfrey’s call.
-Ricky Romero in 2005. To be fair, Romero is still young and improving. He could be in the majors this year. He had to pass over high school players because he can’t pay over slot. But yes, overruling his scouting team and picking Romero over Tulo was a mistake.
-Russ Adams over good players in 2002. This was his first draft and he wasn’t allowed to pay over slot. I’ll give him a break here.
-Royce Clayton, Jason Phillips, Brad Wilkerson, Shannon Stewart, Toma Ohka, and various other minor but poor signings and acquisitions for important roles.

2006 saw a payroll infusion which he used to make some of the above moves. Since then the team has averaged 85 wins which I read somewhere is like top 5 in baseball since that year. He also has drafted pretty well overall despite the reputation he seems to have developed. He got Aaron Hill, Marcum, Lind, Janssen, Litsch, and Snider. Plus theres David Purcey, Brad Mills, the promising 2007 draft class, David Cooper, and Ricky Romero who is improving and still only 23. I’d say that at least an average return from the draft, if not above average.

I’d say the “good” list far outweighs the “bad” list. I invite any Jays fan to argue different.

Since 2006, the team has also been hit be various cases of ridiculously bad luck, injuries, or both. Lengthy injuries to Halladay, McGowan, Marcum, Wells, Burnett, Ryan, and Overbay derailed entire seasons. Simple bad luck derailed 2007 and 2008 as far as run differential, Pythag and other luck metrics show. But the team has still won an average of 85 games despite all of this and playing in the AL East, which at this point isn’t mentioned enough. Oh and yes the Jays WERE a top 5 team last year. I can’t believe Jays fans themselves are denying this. Every metric available and common sense shows this to be true.

JP Ricciardi has assembled a team good enough to have won 3-4 divisions since 2006 and make the playoffs each of those years. He has built one of the best, if not the best, bullpens and starting rotations in all of baseball and the fielding is easily top 5 as well. The minor league talent is as strong as its ever been. If you simply suppress the urge to downgrade JP and the organization because they don’t win in the AL East, it’s easy to see just how good the team has been. Yes, the Adam Dunn thing was stupid, yes running off some scouts was dumb, and getting into a row with Keith Law, but you can’t deny his talent with personnel and team-building.

solar power
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5 years 3 days ago

Great site, I Will come back over the next couple of weeks and see what other little gems have been added.

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