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The Toronto Blue Jays Prospects + Org. Depth Charts For All Affiliates – 2014 (MLB + MiLB)

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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org Depth Chart + Payroll Expert – find his website here)

The Blue Jays have used their system well to acquire several key pieces from other organizations via trade over recent years.

Despite all of the prospects that have left, several are still on their way to the Majors for the big club and several are highly touted.

In 2014, the Blue Jays will try to erase a 21 year playoff drought.  Will the franchise part with some more of its youth, or may they hold steady with the personnel in the MiLB?

If you are a fan, get to know these players we list in the post, and follow their progress in the Minors.  if you click their name, it will take you to baseballreference.com’s player page of them. Read the rest of this entry

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How All Of The Blue Jays Hitters Were Acquired (2014 Roster Tree)

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How All Of The Blue Jays Hitters Were Acquired:

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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For those that have never seen one of our Roster Trees, we go over how all of the players were acquired.

It works like 6 degrees of separation. By searching back to the origin of all the way back until a player is signed, drafted or purchased.

It totally gives you an idea on how the franchise has fared.

Toronto absolutely stole Jose Bautista from Pittsburgh, and then saw Edwin Encarnacion selected off of waivers by the A’s, only to see him return as a Free Agent 6 weeks later.

The Blue Jays have seen EE bash out several seasons worth of awesome since then.

You can track back some of the player to as far as Orlando Hudson and Roy Halladay. Read the rest of this entry

The Toronto Blue Jays State Of The Union: 2014 Preview

The SkyDome was opened in May of 1989.  For the championship ERA, the club drew 4 Million fans each per year.  In recent years, it was tough for the club to draw 2 Million fans.  In 2013, with the promise of a new club mantra, based on Free Agent signings, the team held the best year to year attendance boost in 2013.  I doubt they will be able to do this again in 2014.

The SkyDome was opened in May of 1989. For the championship ERA, the club drew 4 Million fans each per year. In recent years, it was tough for the club to draw 2 Million fans. In 2013, with the promise of a new club mantra, based on Free Agent signings, the team held the best year to year attendance boost in 2013.  If the Jays can’t spring out of the gate fast in 2014, I think the Walkup single game tickets will be tremendously affected negatively.  Toronto has not made the playoffs since winning back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993, and only them and Kansas City hold that dubious honor since the Player Strike/Lockout ensuing seasons of 1994 – 1995.

By ‘Baseball Writer’ Steve Cheeseman 

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The Toronto Blue Jays have been a franchise in question for over 20 years.  This floundering franchise has gone through 11 manager changes since winning the World Series in 1993 vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. 

2 of those managers in Cito Gaston and John Gibbons have been hired twice! The 2013 season was supposed to be the year the Jays went all the way. 

GM Alex Anthopolous numerous moves acquiring major pieces to what was supposed to be a contending team.

R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, Maicer Izturis, Mark Buehrle, and Melky Cabrera.  Despite these additions via trade or signing….same story, different season! Read the rest of this entry

Toronto Blue Jays Payroll In 2014 + Contracts Going Forward

The Blue Jays were the odds on favorite to win the World Series in 2013 among oddsmakers.  After a failure of a season, these guys are still placing way too much faith in the team.  To have them listed as tied with the Rays for the 12th best odd to win the World Series is a joke.  Stay away from this bet.  The odd should be +3000 - and not +1800.  Toronto is listed as tied for the 3rd favorite in the AL East, behind Boston and New York respectively.  It could really be another last place finish in the Division for the Canadian franchise.

The Blue Jays were the odds on favorite to win the World Series in 2013 among oddsmakers. After a failure of a season, the gambling websites  are still placing way too much faith in the team. To have them listed as tied with the Rays for the 12th best odd (+1800) to win the World Series is a stretch.  This team has committed $129 MIL already for 2014 payroll, and have not much room to gamble any more cash on the Roster.  This is incredible considering the bargain the team has with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista being just paid $23 MIL between the two of them.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org. Depth Chart Expert)

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It was a 2013 season that saw the team have the biggest spike in attendance in the majors, but it also came at a hefty price in total team salary.

For as much as the team forked out in payroll, they must not have been able to recoup all of their money.

Their payroll places them right in the middle of AL East pack.  The Yankees are right near the Luxury Tax Threshold right now of $189 MIL at $182 MIL – and the Boston Red Sox are hovering at around $160 MIL.

The Orioles will be near the $100 MIL range, and the Rays figure to be in the low $70 MIL area. Read the rest of this entry

The Toronto Blue Jays Players, Organizational Affiliates, Prospects + Depth Charts (MLB + MiLB)

The Blue Jays have been trading away all of their top prospects in recent years, and so far, not one of the players has come back to burn them.  Unfortunately, the veterans brought in via trade haven't pushed them over the top either.

The Blue Jays have been trading away all of their top prospects in recent years, and so far, not one of the players has come back to burn them. Unfortunately, the veterans brought in via trade haven’t pushed them over the top either.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB) – visit his website  here  

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

The Blue Jays have invested a great deal of their future in trades in recent years.  First they traded away several prospects to acquire Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and John Buck.

The 2nd move was to also trade Travis d’Arnaud and Buck for R.A.Dickey.  However the moves backfired on them in 2013.

What is worse for the team, is the franchise has not been able to develop their own talent over the last several years.  Their best players on the club were all brought in via trades.

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were absolute steals for the guys they doled out to reel them in (Robinson Diaz, never played in the Majors for Pit in the Joey Bats deal, and they originally acquired in the Scott Rolen traded to Cincy.  He was selected off of waivers by Oakland, before he came to the club via Free Agency.

Jose Bautista 2013 Highlights

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The Disaster That Was The Blue Jays 2013 Season: State Of The Union

Following the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous made some noticeable moves, to seemingly re-invent Canada’s team.  Jay’s fans everywhere were ecstatic and pumped for the upcoming season, thinking that playoff baseball would finally return to Canada after 20 long seasons.

Following the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos made some noticeable moves, to seemingly re-invent Canada’s team. Jay’s fans everywhere were ecstatic and pumped for the upcoming season, thinking that playoff baseball would finally return to Canada after 20 long seasons.

By ‘Special Guest  Blue Jays Writer’ Steve Cheeseman 

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Another Season, Another Disaster.

The off-season started with a boom, with the signings of Maicer Izturis (3 yr-$9 million), and Melky Cabrera (2 yr-$16million).  This was followed by acquiring hard throwing Esmil Rogers from Cleveland.  

They weren’t done yet.

On November 14th, Anthopoulos completed a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, receiving pitchers  Josh Johnson  (2-time All-Star)and Mark Buehrle (4-time All-Star), short-stop Jose Reyes (4-time All-Star, 2011 NL Batting Champion),   catcher John Buck,  utility man Emilio Bonifacio, and $8 million in cash in exchange for pitcher Henderson Alvarez, short-stop Yunel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, and prospects.  

It was a steal.  Toronto then sent John Buck and prospects to the New York Mets, for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, catcher Josh Thole and a prospect.   

Odd makers out of Las Vegas named the Toronto Blue Jays as the favorites to win the 2013 World Series.  Too good to be true right? Pretty much.

Munenori Kawasaki – See You Tomorrow

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Toronto Blue Jays Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward

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Friday, August.16, 2013

Jose Bautista is one of the  power threats in the line up for Toronto. He has rebounded nicely this season, after injuries cut his 2012 season short. He has a .261/.357/.857 triple-slash in 2013 with 27 HRs and 72 RBIs in 440 at-bats. He has 51 extra-base hits on the season, with 115 hits overall to go along with 220 Total Bases. He fares better against right-handers with a .263 batting average in 350 at-bats against them, while he is just hitting .256 facing southpaws. Bautista is still a threat with runners in scoring position, as indicated by his .301/.410/1.002 triple-slash with 6 HRs and 45 RBIs in this situation. He is still solid with two outs and runners in scoring position with a .306 batting average and 17 RBIs. They need him to stay healthy to contend in 2014.

Jose Bautista is one of the power threats in the line up for Toronto. He has rebounded nicely this season, after injuries cut his 2012 season short. He has a .261/.357/.857 triple-slash in 2013 with 27 HRs and 72 RBIs in 440 at-bats. He has 51 extra-base hits on the season, with 115 hits overall to go along with 220 Total Bases. He fares better against right-handers with a .263 batting average in 350 at-bats against them, while he is just hitting .256 facing southpaws. Bautista is still a threat with runners in scoring position, as indicated by his .301/.410/1.002 triple-slash with 6 HRs and 45 RBIs in this situation. He is still solid with two outs and runners in scoring position with a .306 batting average and 17 RBIs. They need him to stay healthy to contend in 2014.

By Chris Lacey (Lead Baseball Columnist/Minority Website Owner)

The Toronto Blue Jays have not had the greatest of seasons with them dead last in the American League East division. They trail the Boston Red Sox by 15 games and the chances of them being a Wild Card team are slim at best.

One of the reasons that this season has been a nightmare for the team that made plenty of noise during the offseason is with their pitching. They have allowed 590 runs this season, and only the Houston Astros have allowed more runs at 633 this season.

J.P. Arencibia Toronto Blue Jays Highlights – Parental Guidance Is Advised

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Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Charts: Payroll, Depth Charts And Rosters, (MLB + MiLB)

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Saturday, June.14/2013

The Blue Jays have played better baseball of late, are now 30 - 36.  They sit in last place in the AL East.  Mark Buerhle was great in a 8 - 0 win versus Texas Fri.

The Blue Jays have played better baseball of late, are now 30 – 36. They sit in last place in the AL East – 9.5 Games Behind the Boston Red Sox. Mark Buerhle was great in a 8 – 0 win versus Texas Fri.  The two teams continue a Series today.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and welcome Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB) – visit his website  here  

You guys are all in for a treat.  Jeff Kleiner recently contacted me about a partnership merge for the website.  He has developed a site (prosportsrosters.com) that covers all organizational affiliates in the Minors for all of the Major League Baseball Clubs.  We are going to combine efforts to bring you the best look at salaries, current 25 Man Player Rosters and Depth Charts for all 30 teams. 

Jeff is going to provide the documents in form of spreadsheets and I am going to accompany the posts with deep analysis of what the numbers tell us from my perspective.  If you can’t wait for all of my assessments for each club, go and visit Jeff’s website over at http://www.prosportsrosters.com.

In Speaking with Jeff, he is one of the more passionate fans I have come across towards the game of baseball.  He spends enough time in updating his MLB Facts for it to be a Full-Time Job.  So after the usual Video Clip and READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY button, you will find some serious &*!@?!#!

Jeff updates this page below on a daily basis.  After you click on it….Bookmark it.  There is a 3 year salary forecast and stats not listed here on this page.  Jeff updates these pages daily and these changes include any Roster moves!

For a Full 3 year Salary Outlook plus last years Stats for every player in the Blue Jays Organization click here

Read the rest of this entry

Chicago White Sox Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward

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Sunday, January.27/2013

Former GM 'Maverick  Kenny Williams has rolle the dice on some big contracts with Rios, Dunn  and Peavy..  There have been some moments of prosperity and failure for each, however the results have been ok overall.  The team should be competitive with both payroll - and on the field in 2013

Former GM ‘Maverick Kenny Williams has rolled the dice on some big contracts with Rios, Dunn and Peavy.. There have been some moments of prosperity and failure for each, however the results have been ok overall. The team should be competitive with both payroll – and on the field in 2013

By Brian Madsen (White Sox Correspondent):  

Considering the collapse of the 2012 White Sox, the team losing A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis to Free Agency, one might not expect the 2013 White Sox to fare any better. But, looking on the bright side, they should have a solid starting staff, with Chris Sale having another year of experience under his belt, and, hopefully, the return of a healthy John Danks. That’s a pretty good 1-2 punch. Next is Jake Peavy. Not a bad 1-2-3 punch, if you ask me. Follow those 3 with Gavin Floyd and/or Hector Santiago/Jose Quintana, not too shabby. An “expert” may look on the not so bright side, and see a “whole lotta outs in the lineup”.

Between Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez (both struggled in 2012) and the newly anointed starting Catcher, Tyler Flowers, that’s a combined average of .237 (which equals a whole lotta outs). While some say Beckham’s and Ramirez’s defensive prowess make up for their offensive deficiencies, many White Sox fans disagree. But, if Alex Rios and Adam Dunn can carry over their production from 2012 into 2013, the Sox could be in the running for the division title again. The addition of Jeff Keppinger at third base, while not a high-profile move that White Sox fans had grown accustomed to with former GM Kenny Williams, he is solid at the plate and in the field. Let’s take a look at the Sox payroll for the 2013 season….

DeWayne Wise’ catch to preserve Mark Buehle’s perfect game:

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Three Veteran Closers Searching for Bounce Back Seasons

Thursday November 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: When it comes to closers, 2012 was the year of the injured veteran reliever. A couple of teams probably would have had different postseason success had they been able to use their reliable ninth-inning man. From Mariano Rivera to Sergio Santos, the list of closers that missed the 2012 MLB season goes on and on. Here’s an early glance at some of these pitchers hoping to rebound from their respective off years in the upcoming season.

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera is the best closer in the history of baseball and probably the best relief pitcher as well. Even as a forty-one year old in 2011, Rivera was forty-four for forty-nine in save opportunities. That was his ninth consecutive season with thirty or more saves. Unfortunately, Mariano Rivera missed almost all of the 2012 season due to a torn ACL he suffered while shagging fly balls. Read the rest of this entry

Your Saves Savior: The Closing Strategy for Your 2013 Fantasy Baseball Team

Tuesday September 18, 2012

Peter Stein:  

The following stat is the most telling about the roles of closers from a fantasy baseball perspective: 47 players have recorded 5 or more saves and a total of 61 have record 3 or more in 2012. The dispersion of saves throughout baseball reaffirm the old fantasy adage to never overpay for saves, demonstrating just how volatile the closing position is… and the difficulty of predicting saves.

A look at the top-five save leaders tells us even more:

Fernando Rodney (0.66 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 43 saves)

Jim Johnson (2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 43 saves)

Rafael Soriano (2.07 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 40 saves)

Chris Perez (3.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36 saves)

Craig Kimbrel (1.14 ERA, .0.67 WHIP, 36 saves) Read the rest of this entry

The Toronto Blue Jays Payroll 2013 and Contracts (Updated For MIA Trade Nov.13/2012)

Monday, September.10/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history.  2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of  my archived articles section here.

The Blue Jays have not qualified for the Playoffs since they won Back to Back World Series in 1992 and 1993. At that time, they were around the top of the MLB Payroll for all teams. How much will they spend in 2013?

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

It has been a disastrous season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.  Only the Boston Red Sox can usurp them in the AL East for being more disappointing.  It is not entirely anyone’s fault, injuries to many key pitchers-plus the loss of Jose Bautista just after the All-Break, crippled the team’s ability to compete.  Just chalk up the season to unlucky.  Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos has kept the team flexible with the payroll going forward.  I still think that getting out of the Vernon Wells and Alex Rios contracts was the biggest ‘Houdini Act’ of the New Millennium.  Since he got out from under those contracts, only Joey Bats makes more than 10 Million Dollars now on the club.  To contend in the AL East, the Jays will need to spend at least 100-110 Million Dollars.  The core of the team is intact for a couple of more years.  From 2013-2016 is the clubs best window to make a charge at the playoffs and have some success.

Perhaps the best move that the Blue Jays GM did this year was to lock up Edwin Encarnacion to a 3 YR/27 Million Dollar contract before he hit the Free Agency Market.  In a downtrodden year, EE could have requested an arm and leg for his services and been obliged.  He left between 8-10 Million Dollars on the Table in my opinion.  The keys will be to lock up a couple of their young player to long-term contracts.  The catching looks solid (Arencibia and Mathis) for years to come with some more prospects filtering through the Minor Leagues (Travis D’arnaurd.)  Trading away Eric Thames and Travis Snider paved the way for the club to lock-up Colby Rasmus long-term-and maybe take a run at a power hitting Outfielder.  The team’s starting pitching must heal up from multiple Tommy John Surgeries and come back to be relevant.  The team should definitely be players for free agent pitchers.  

For Part 1 of a 7 Part Article Series:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993, click here

For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll:  A Readers Thoughts, Click Here:

Josh Johnson brings a career record of 56-37 (.602) to the Blue Jays lineup in 2013. With one year and 13.75 Million Dollars left on this current deal. will Toronto try and extend him or wait to see if he can stay healthy all year.

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Chicago White Sox: How Big of An Impact Has Manager Robin Ventura Made In His First Year on the Job?

Sunday August 5th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto:  Chicago White Sox’s manager, Robin Ventura has revitalized baseball in Chicago. The Ozzie Guillen era is far is the past, and Ventura’s new brand of baseball has the White Sox in the thick of the American league playoff race.

Chicago, who finished 16 games behind the first place  in 2011, currently stand atop the Central division and own the third best record in the American league. Yet, being in the playoff chase in early August wasn’t what White Sox fans were merely expecting. After trading young closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays during the offseason, and pondering upon the idea of shipping John Danks away as well, it appeared as if General manager Ken Williams was looking to reconstruct his roster for the future and beyond. It would make sense, too, after granting Guillen’s request to be released during the offseason. Guillen, an icon in Chicago, managed the Sox for eight years (2004-2011), leading them to a memorable World Series win in 2005. But as his tenure came to an emotional end, it was time for a change. A new manager, a new roster, and a new feeling seemed to be the philosophy after the hiring of Ventura. But as we sit here in August, that philosophy doesn’t seem to matchup with prior predictions. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Closer Report: Where Does Your Team Stand?

Sunday May 6, 2012

Bryan Sheehan (Baseball Writer): Seeing Mariano Rivera go down with a torn ACL is like driving by a car accident and reflecting on how easily it could have been you in that accident, or in this case- how it could have been your team’s closer cringing in pain on the warning track. And this is the year of the injured closer: from Boston’s Andrew Bailey to San Francisco’s Brian Wilson, closers across the league have been dropping like flies. Other closers, like the Angels’ Jordan Walden, have stayed healthy but haven’t played well enough to keep their coveted ninth inning role. Even though there has only been a month of baseball so far, much has changed for some clubs.

Today, I’ll be taking a look at every team’s closer situation, and breaking down how it got to be the way it is: Read the rest of this entry

Those Clutch Guys: A Preview of the American League Closers in 2012

Wednesday February 1st, 2012

Sam Evans: Closing ballgames takes confidence, skill, and experience. There are select players that have earned the closer role at the highest level possible. These players come in all shapes and sizes, with diverse backgrounds. 

Without further adieu, here are the closers for all fourteen American League teams:

New York Yankees: The Yankees have had the same closer for the last fifteen years. That is by far the longest stretch of any closer with their current team. Arguably the most successful closer of all time, Mariano Rivera has constructed his whole career around one pitch.

Rivera’s cutter is simply dominant. He breaks more bats than any other closer in the league, and he knows where to throw it to specific hitters. Even at 42 years old, hitters know what’s coming but still have no chance of making solid contact. In 2011, Rivera had a 1.91 ERA and he recorded 44 saves. Mariano Rivera still has at least five more years closing out games. The Yankees should be content with him as their closer for as long as he wants to pitch.

Tampa Bay Rays: Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth had a surprisingly effective 2011. Coming into the year, he was expected to compete with young prospect Jake McGee for the closer role. Farnsworth stole the show and was Tampa’s closer for the whole season. He posted a 2.18 ERA in 2012, along with 25 saves. It was a nice bounce back year for the once overpaid, angry reliever.

The Rays picked up the fiery reliever’s option for 2012, so he will likely retain his job as the Rays’ closer. However, if Farnsworth can’t get the job done, Joel Peralta or Fernando Rodney (87 career saves) will step in.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox bullpen has had a perplexing offseason so far. They let their closer leave in free agency and they moved two of their other best relievers to the rotation. Now, they’ll be trusting a young, former Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t thrown fifty innings since 2009. I think the Red Sox made the right move by letting Jonathan Papelbon walk, but I don’t see the benefit in moving Daniel Bard to their rotation.

Moving from Oakland to Boston, Andrew Bailey will have to learn to deal with constant criticism and media pressure. He’ll go from pitching in front of 10,000 people every night to almost 40,000. It’s impossible to quantify how much of an impact that will have on Bailey, but it’s got be at least a small factor.

The Red Sox will have a strong bullpen, despite which of their relievers end up in their rotation. Besides Bard, the Red Sox also acquired Mark Melancon who could see time as Boston’s closer. Melancon isn’t as good of a pitcher as Bailey, but he is still a strong option for late-inning relief.

I’m not high on Bailey and I see him having issues in 2012. Bailey relies too heavily on his fastball and his curveball was not effective last year. If he succeeds in Boston, then the Red Sox will look like geniuses for trading for him. If he struggles, then new General Manager Ben Cherington will have some questions to answer about the future of this bullpen. (I wrote more about the Red Sox bullpen here.)

Toronto Blue Jays: With the abundance of closers on the market, Toronto went out and got their closer of the present and future, in Sergio Santos. They had to give up Nestor Molina, a young starting pitching prospect, but they scored Santos and his team-friendly contract.

Since being converted from shortstop to pitcher a couple of years ago, Sergio Santos has molded into a top-notch closer. In my opinion, he has the second best slider in baseball. (Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gets a slight edge.)

The Blue Jays have a fairly strong bullpen and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos could always trade for more bullpen pieces. Rebuilding Toronto’s major league team is going to take a couple of years and right now the bullpen appears to be the least of their worries.

Baltimore Orioles: Jim Johnson emerged as a star for the Orioles in 2011. The twenty-eight year old reliever threw ninety innings but recorded only nine saves. The Orioles leader in saves last year was Kevin Gregg with 22 saves. This was surprising considering Gregg wasn’t even one of the Orioles top three relievers.

I’ve been a huge fan of Pedro Strop ever since he was with the Rangers organization. The twenty-six year old had a 2.62 FIP in 2011, and the Orioles have implied he’ll be their setup man in 2012. With Johnson, Gregg and Strop all gunning for the Orioles closer job in 2012, they’ll definitely have competition throughout the year. I’d expect Johnson to get the most saves, but Strop could have a breakout season as a 9th inning superstar.  Plus Alfredo Simon could always get hot and take back the role if he fails as a starter.

Detroit Tigers: For the Tigers, having a closer they can trust to close out games in 2012 will be huge. The Tigers are going to have plenty of late-inning leads, thanks to a strong pitching staff and a powerful offense. Jose Valverde has been the Tigers closer for the last two years and he’s excelled at the back of the Detroit bullpen.

Papa Grande took a step forward in 2011. He saved 49 saves in just as many opportunities in 2012. His electric (and to a lesser extent, annoying) personality provides a spark at the end of Tigers games.

Valverde will be back in 2012 and will help Detroit down the stretch as they look to make a run at the World Series.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox no longer have a clear closer after trading Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Now, their bullpen will rely on the flame-throwing lefty Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed.

Matt Thornton had a rough 2011. He lost his closer job to a former shortstop and saw his strikeout rates plummet. In 2010, he struck out 12.02 batters per nine innings. In 2011, he saw that rate drop to 9.5. He also walked more hitters than he had in previous years, and his LOB% dropped to 61.2%. In 2012, he will probably see his numbers improve moderately- but not to the level they were at in 2010.

Addison Reed is the best prospect in the White Sox deprived farm system. He will probably start the year in the majors. He has a higher ceiling than any other White Sox bullpen arms and that might lead to a job closing for Chicago. Reed is a nice sleeper in 12-team leagues, in which you are looking for saves.

Manager Robin Ventura has said that Reed is likely to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He also said that the closing job is Matt Thornton’s to lose. I don’t think it will be very long before Reed takes over the job from Thornton, so Reed will probably get the majority of saves for the White Sox this year.

Kansas City Royals: Last year, it seemed inevitable that the Royals would trade away their longtime closer Joakim Soria. Then Soria’s value dramatically dropped. In May, Soria gave up ten runs in ten innings, and Royals fans started to panic. Eventually, Soria got back to the pitcher he always was. He finished 2011 with 28 saves, his lowest total since 2007. General Manager Dayton Moore made the right move hanging on to Joakim Soria because his value was so low at the trade deadline.

For 2012, Soria will be the Royals closer barring a trade. Not to be forgotten is former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton who was signed this offseason. The Royals have a talented young bullpen that has the chance to develop into one of the best in the league.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins have no real closer heading into the 2011 season. Sure they have Matt Capps, who has 124 career saves. But he’s not a legitimate option if they plan on contending this year. They recently signed former Detroit Tiger Joel Zumaya who is coming back from a serious arm injury, but he used to be able to throw triple digits.

For fantasy players looking for sleepers, this team isn’t a bad place to start. Any one of the Twins pitchers could step up and take the closer role. This might be the worst bullpen in the league, so Minnesota will probably have to make some moves this year.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians a strong bullpen that should be able to give their starters a proper amount of rest. Vinnie Pestano is the best reliever on the team… and he’s not even closing. Pestano was worth 1.5 WAR in 2011, and he had 23 saves. If Chris Perez were to slip up in his closing duties, Pestano could easily fill in.

Chris Perez is a very good closer because he is a clutch performer. He doesn’t strike out many hitters and he walks a lot of hitters (1.50 K/BB in 2011), but he doesn’t blow many saves. He was 36 for 40 in save opportunities last year.

Even though Perez will likely be the starting closer on Opening Day, if Pestano keeps pitching like he has, he could eventually take over the position.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners probably should have traded their closer, Brandon League, this offseason. As strong of an asset as League is, the Mariners won’t be contending in 2012.

When Brandon Leauge decides to throw it, he has one of the best splitters in the league. Last year he threw his splitter 28.2% of the time. Mariners fans want him to throw it more because of how dominating it can be. In 2011, using his splitter more led him to 37 saves and a 2.78 FIP. If League were to be traded or injured, Shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, or Chance Ruffin would likely step into the role.

Oakland Athletics: Since the A’s traded Andrew Bailey, their closer responsibility is no longer set in stone. Brian Fuentes will likely start the year as their closer, but he has 37 career blown saves and is no longer the pitcher he once was.

The next pitcher in line to get saves is probably Fautino De Los Santos. As a rookie in 2011, De Los Santos struck out 11.61 batters per nine innings. Fautino De Los Santos may be electric but he only has thirty-two career saves (all of which were in the minors.)

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have the most depth out of any bullpen in the AL West. Joe Nathan will be the closer out of spring training. If Nathan were to fail, the Rangers also have Mike Adams, Koji Uehara (barring a trade) and Alexi Ogando (if he doesn’t start) waiting in the wings. If the Rangers bullpen were a flavor of milkshake- they would be banana. Not always the first thing that comes to mind, but after you try it, it’s much better than you expected.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels should have spent more money this offseason on their bullpen. Jordan Walden is far from a sure thing. Although it was his rookie year, Walden had his ups and downs in 2011. Walden looked nervous at times. Hopefully in his second year, he will have a better ” closer’s mentality.” 

Setting up Walden will be most likely be Scott Downs, who was extremely lucky in 2011. Downs had 26 holds and a 1.34 ERA. He had a 3.40 xFIP and he left 86.4% of his men on base.  In 2012, there’s no question that Downs is going to regress. The only question is how much. 

Overall:  The bullpens in the American League aren’t as strong as they look. There are talented pitchers on nearly every team, but no bullpen stands out as the clear winner. 2012 is going to be the an important year for closers, as there will be many AL teams in contention (especially if the 2nd Wild Card goes through). Some say that the whole closer role and mentality is not important. But once this year’s playoffs are upon us, I think 2012 will prove just how important closers really are.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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Ryan Madson: A Free Agent Closer with no Job?

Thursday December 8, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  With the Winter Meetings at an end, players/teams/agents are left standing to look over the game of musical chairs and who is left standing.  A particularly interesting position was closer- with more eligible players than open positions.  In the past few weeks, we have seen many signings and trades in this area.  Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies.  Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays.  Huston Street to the Padres.  Francisco Rodriguez accepted arbitration from the Brewers.  Heath Bell to the Marlins.  Joe Nathan to the Rangers.  Andrew Bailey is openly being discussed in the trade market as leaving the A’s.  Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch joined the Mets.  As a result, one big name is left standing with no dance partner.  Ryan Madson is still on the open market with few promising prospects ahead.

As the story goes, Madson was supposed to re-sign with the Phillies.  A reported 4-year, estimated $44 million contract was put on the table by the Phillies early in free agency.  Player and agent (Scott Boras) happily accepted and a Philadelphia return was in order.  Not so fast.  There are conflicting stories on what transpired.  Needless to say, there was never a firm deal in place and the Phillies moved quickly to sign the top closer on the free agent market, Jonathan Papelbon.  Since then, there has been little discussion on Madson.  There have been reports throughout the process linking him to the Jays, Marlins and Red Sox.  Well…the first 2 teams have filled their vacancies.  The Red Sox have Daniel Bard as the incumbent set-up man who could get a look at the closing position- although he may end up in the rotation.  Other than that, there seems to be little hope for Madson.

Last night, Madson chose not to the K-Rod route and accept salary arbitration.  As a result, he remains out in the market waiting for his next contract offer.  Francisco Cordero is in the same boat, although he is still likely to go back to the Reds on a 1-2 year contract from the whispers around the league.  But even if the Reds do not retain Cordero, it is unlikely that they will sign Madson- especially given the young players they still need to lock-up to extensions.  So what other options exist for Madson?  Perhaps the Orioles.  Maybe the Rays.  The options are getting bleak.

This is one of the few times that you will see Scott Boras caught “with his pants down” so to speak.  For an agent that is well known to be able to create and stimulate markets and demands for his clients, Boras has come up short for Madson.  The perception is that the Phillies did what was best for them in signing Papelbon, which left Boras outraged and in a bind.  With little to no teams looking for closers, Boras essentially only has the Red Sox to work with.  At this point, he may need to take a 1-2 year deal for Madson, in the $7-10 million range to rebuild his value and try again on the open market in the future.  A risky proposition, but with few options- Madson may have no other choice.

I was actually quite surprised that Madson didn’t take the Phillies offer of arbitration.  Based on his stellar 2011 numbers, he could have expected a strong 1-year contract at least.  Now Boras and Madson are left to take their chances on the open market.  For a closer with only 1 full year on the job, time is not on Madson’s side.  A proven closer like Francisco Cordero knows that he find a contract soon.  Heck, even K-Rod knows that he just needs another solid season under his belt and his next deal will follow shortly after.  Madson was in line for his first and only big payday this offseason.  If he gets hurt or becomes ineffective in 2012, that dream vanishes. Scott Boras better work overtime to get the Red Sox biting on his closer client.  Otherwise, it may not turn out to be a very Merry Christmas in the Madson household this year.

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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