Well, that was a fun couple of days off for Major League Baseball. The Fall General Manager meetings are in full swing, but these meetings will not be nearly as busy as the Winter Meetings. Already, more than 190 players have filed for Free Agency.
Tim Dierkes of mlbtraderumors.com has released his list of the Top 50 FA and where he thinks they will end up. Notable for Toronto Blue Jays purposes, he sees CC Sabathia and Derek (B)Lowe coming to the New York Yankees, with Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi leaving for other destinations. He also sees AJ Burnett going to the Baltimore Orioles. Not that surprising, considering AJ is from around there. His 2 picks for Jay pick-ups are Milton Bradley and Brad Penny. I definitely do not agree with Bradley, but could see Penny coming here, if he accepts an incentive laden, short-term deal, but he might get offered guaranteed money, despite his injury problems.
Others have pointed out Bradley was the best hitter in the AL last year. This would make him a great fit for the Jays! Well, players don't normally have career years at age 30, and they don't follow those up with even better age 31 seasons. Bradley had the benefit of playing in the Ballpark at Arlington, which is friendly to hitters, and got to play against the Mariners and A's (not the stiffest of competition). He was also unbelievably lucky. How lucky? He had a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .388. His career BABIP is .323, with the league average around .290. Let's just say, I don't think he will be repeating his stats next year.
The rumor mill has started to churn and some have the Blue Jays in the mix to trade for San Diego Padres' SS Khalil Greene (Reggie Cleveland All-Star (if you get that reference, you are my friend)). Colour me unimpressed. He was a better hitter at home than on the road last year, which is saying something, considering PETCO Park is where power hitters go to die. He hit a career-low 10 HRs last season, and can probably be counted on for around 15. He also does not get on base that well, and strikes out way too much. He also does not have the defensive capabilities to overcome his offensive shortcomings. Hanley Ramirez he is not. I'd rather have Marco Scutaro and John McDonald, warts and all.
2009 is going to be a year where the Jays figure out who can contribute in 2010. Behind the plate, Rod Barajas will be brought back, but his back-up could be Curtis Thigpen, Brian Jeroloman or JP Arencibia, by years end. Arencibia has the inside track to be the starter in 2010, but walk-machine Jeroloman is also in the mix. Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro and Scott Rolen should be around the infield, with John McDonald and Joe Inglett backing them up. The outfield will be Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, and a possible LF/DH combo of Adam Lind and Travis Snider. I'd rather see the Jays sign Jason Giambi and trade Lind for pitching, plus put Rios in CF and Wells in RF, but thats just me. The Starting Rotation will be Halladay-Litsch at the top. Dustin McGowan should be back in July and Shaun Marcum will be back for Spring Training...of 2010. So the other 3 spots will be manned by Scott Downs, John Parrish, Scott Richmond, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brad Mills, Kyle Ginley, Mark Rzepczynski (pronounced Zep-Chin-Ski), any free agent or any trade candidate, with the best 2 sticking around when McG gets healthy again. Plus the best of these players will be the most likely candidate to slot into the no. 5 spot in 2010. The bullpen might see some changes, mostly due to a surplus of arms. BJ Ryan is a trade candidate, but the rest of the 'pen should be back.