Just after I finished last night’s post, Sportnet Connected reported that Reed Johnson has opted to have surgery and will be out of the Blue Jays’ lineup for approximately two months. As I was already in bed when I heard this news, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed to post it so I decided to wait until this morning.
Adam Lind has already stepped into the role of everyday left fielder and it appears Alex Rios will continue to lead-off in Johnson’s absence.
Josh Towers brought it today pitching three scoreless innings and making the Blue Jays management take a good hard look at Towers who had a disasterous 2006 season. He’ll need a few more good starts in Grapefruit League action before the Jays consider bringing him north to Toronto with them. Towers has come into spring training with the attitude that a spot in the rotation is his to lose which is good. He worked out in the offseason with Reed Johnson in Nevada so hopefully Reed Johnson’s tenacity will rub off on Josh and he can come through with a solid season.
I’m hoping all the pitchers competing for the final two spots in the starting rotation all have strong springs making it a very tough decision for John Gibbons.
Sportsnet.ca is reporting that Vernon Wells has agreed to a seven-year $126M deal with the Blue Jays. All that is left is MLB’s stamp of approval. A press conference is expected on Monday to announce the deal. I couldn’t be happier.
Now if the Jays could only find some starting pitching….
Despite all the rumours speculating that the Blue Jays would try to trade Vernon Wells for pitching, the Blue Jays are stepping up efforts to sign Mr. Wells. They have offered him a contract worth $126 million over seven years. Sportsnet.ca is reporting that Vernon is close to accepting this offer.
My thoughts on the trade rumours are this: Completely stupid. Wells is 28 years old, hits for power and average and is a gold glove centre fielder. He has one year left on his current contract so if the Jays were going to trade him, they are basically trading one year worth of service and exclusive negotiating rights for one year until he becomes a free agent. What kind of pitching would the Jays get in return for that? Sure if there was a bidding war, they may get a mid-level starter in return or some good young prospects. However they would have a gaping hole in the number three spot in their order and in centre field. Sure Alex Rios could move over to centre but then you have a platoon of Matt Stairs and Adam Lind in right assuming the Jays would not receive an outfielder in the deal for Wells.
The contract extension makes complete sense to me. The $18M a year is market value, it is not my money being spent so I’m not sweating it. The Jays will find a solution for their starting rotation before the season starts. It may not be an optimal solution but it will be a solution. The team will be improved from last year if the starting staff stays healthy (especially Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett) and Frank Thomas produces as he always has when healthy.
This is a great move for the Blue Jays and a strong commitment to the team’s fans.
Ted Lilly has reportedly agreed to terms with the Chicago Cubs on a four-year deal worth $40 million. The Jays were willing to match the Cubs offer but Lilly decided he needed a change of scenary. Thanks for the slap in the face Ted. Either way, $10 million a season is too much for Ted Lilly. The Blue Jays’ money will be better spent elsewhere.
One player who has agreed to a contract with the Blue Jays is Matt Stairs. He will provide a sorely needed left-handed bat off the bench and be the fourth outfielder. With the Stairs signing, Adam Lind will surely start the year in Syracuse which in the long-term is a good thing as the kid will be playing and not sitting on the bench in Toronto. Riccardi also implied that the middle infield situation will be cleared up in the coming days. Rumours are that the Jays are closing in on re-signing John Macdonald or former Jay, Chris Gomez. I like Macdonald but would rather see the Jays sign Gomez as Gomez can provide a little more punch at the plate.
As for the pitching situation, Riccardi is focusing his efforts on signing Gil Meche. Riccardi thinks Josh Towers can fill the void as the team’s fifth starter if the team is successful in signing Meche. If unsuccessful, Riccardi believes the last two spots in the rotation will be filled by Shawn Marcum and Towers. My thoughts are that they have to sign Gil Meche or another suitable third or fourth starter. Having a Towers or Marcum in the fifth spot is fine but having both of them in the rotation spells a very thin rotation and the Jays are in real trouble if anyone goes down with an injury.
The Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin is reporting that Ted Lilly has decided that he will not return to the Blue Jay. Lilly’s agent has reportedly said that Ted did some ‘soul searching’ and has decided a change of scenary is best. In other words, the Jays weren’t willing to either pay him enough or add a fifth year to their offer of four years. The Yankees and the Cubs are now the two teams still in the running for Ted. My money is on the Yankees as they will likely give Lilly what he wants, $10M+ over five years. I’m actually glad the Jays are not re-signing Lilly. In his tenure with Toronto, he was consistently inconsistent. He’d look great one start and then not last past the third inning in his next start. The Jays are better suited to go after Gil Meche and use somebody from their system to be their fifth starter. The Jays have to have confidence that one of Janssens, Marcum, Towers or McGowan can step up and eat some innings.
It has been confirmed by Ted Lilly’s agent that the Chicago Cubs have offered Ted Lilly a four year contract believed to be in the neighbourhood of $37.5M, similar to the contract Jarrod Washburn received last season. The Jays apparantly are still in the hunt for Ted’s services according to this article on bluejays.com: