Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Day Late, A Buck Short

Well, one day later here are my thoughts on the Nestor Molina for Sergio Santos trade.

To keep it short, I like it.  Anyone who is upset about losing Molina to bring in Santos should consider this:  Nestor Molina is probably less than you would have had to give up to bring in Huston Street or Andrew Bailey (and frankly, I'd rather have him than either of those two), and the Jays would have had to pay out way too much cash to lure the likes of Madson, Cordero, or K-Rod into coming here.

At the start of this off-season I was a little frightened when Alex announced it as his mission to bring in a closer.  I was afraid that we might overpay for a Pappelbon, Madson, or Bell.  But then again, I was also under the impression that the Blue Jays had money to spend.  Which, according to Alex Anthopoulos yesterday, they do not.  *cough* bullcrap *cough*. 

Then when the rumours started to come out that Toronto was interested in trading for Andrew Bailey or Huston Street, I got really worried.  After Bailey's injury last year, and Street, even though he wasn't terrible, putting up a season where he posted career highs in both ERA and WHIP.  I'm not convinced that either one of those guys would be a better option than trying Casey Janssen or Jesse Litsch in the ninth, and I shudder to think what we would have had to give up to bring them here.

I am not in favour of paying top dollar for a closer.  I'd much rather a bat to hit behind Bautista.  Yes I am aware of how many blown saves Toronto had last year.  However I'm also aware of how many of those games they still won, and that some of those blown saves came in pairs. (two in the same game).  Was it frustrating that they did blow so many saves?  Of course it was.  But I still think that signing a closer to a multi-year deal is risky business.  There are not that many that you can point a finger at and declare them effective for four seasons or more in a row.  There are some, sure.  But do you think Pappelbon, Madson, Bailey, or Street is going to be as dominant for four more seasons moving forward?  I'm not so sure.

Santos' return to Toronto gives the Jays a reliever with quality stuff to fill the ninth inning role.  This season he saved 30 games in 36 tries, and struck out 92 batters in 62.1 innings, while pitching to a WHIP of 1.105 in his first season as a closer. 

What makes him even more appealing is his contract.  At age 28, Santos will make $1 million in 2012, $2.75 million in 2013, and $3.75 million in 2014.  Then he has options for 2015, 2016, and 2017 at $6 million, $8 million, and 8.75 million.  Each option carries only a $750k buyout.  So, Santo's is only guaranteed $7.5 million paid out over the next 3 seasons.  Heath Bell and Jonathan Pappelbon have already signed deals paying them more than this for just next year.  No, I'm not saying that Santos is in the same class as Bell and Pappelbon.  Just saying he's a lot cheaper, and very well could be in the same class.

Santos' came to the Blue Jays once before as a short stop prospect with Troy Glaus in the deal that sent Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista to Arizona.

Nestor Molina spent most of this season in Dunedin (A), and then made four starts in New Hampshire (AA) where he was absolutely lights out, to finish out the year.  At the two levels combined, he posted a record of 12 wins and 3 losses, with a 2.21 ERA, a 0.997 WHIP, and struck out 148 over 130.1 innings.  He looks like he could be great.  He could very well come back to bite Toronto in the butt.

Before you get too upset though, try googling former Jays first round draft pick Steve Karsay, or 1991 first overall pick Brien Taylor, and check out the numbers they posted in high A ball in 1992.  Very similar to Molina, and neither went on to any notable achievements at the Major League level.  In fact, Taylor never even made it.  Karsay's career spanned 11 seasons, where he posted a losing record, with a career ERA of 4.01, and a WHIP of 1.38.  It just goes to show that you never really know what you have when it comes to prospects. 

As for the money comments from Alex Anthopoulos yesterday.  Are they true?  Your guess is as good as mine.  What he said about the payroll rising as revenues rise makes sense, however I tend to lean towards the belief that he just said this to deter the media from continuing to report that the Jays are interested in Fielder.  

Given what Anthopoulos has done so far since he's been sitting in the big boy chair though, it does appear that he is working within a budget.  They sure haven't spent much.  Considering that their payroll keeps decreasing, while television ratings and to a lesser extent, attendance are on the rise.

Time will tell.

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