Mailbag: Canadian players sought?
Jays beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers fans' questions
Since it looks like the Orioles might be trading Erik Bedard, why isn't Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi at least negotiating to bring him to Toronto? It would be great marketing because Bedard is a great pitcher and Canadian.
-- Barry M., Ottawa
Man, with all the Bedard-related e-mails streaming in from Ottawa, you'd think the pitcher was from nearby Navan, Ontario, or something. Believe me, Ricciardi inquired about Bedard's availability earlier this offseason, and Baltimore subsequently put the kibosh on a potential deal.
The hang-up was due to Orioles owner Peter Angelos' reluctance -- or plain ol' unwillingness -- to deal Bedard within the American League East. Notice that the Yankees and Red Sox were both in on the Johan Santana trade discussions, but neither was rumored to be going hard after Bedard as a contingency plan.
The fact that Bedard hails from Canada does not escape the Jays, either. They're more than aware of how reeling in a high-profile player who is from north of the border would play with the marketing department. There just isn't a deal to be made there this offseason. There might not have been a trade to be made even had the O's agreed to listen to the Jays' offers.
At the least, Toronto would've probably had to part with four players, including a top prospect like outfielder Travis Snider or a budding star like Alex Rios. The Jays are intent on fielding a winning club, but not necessarily at the expense of stripping their farm system of the few high-ceiling players they boast, or by removing key parts of the big league roster.
So, have patience, Blue Jays fans. In two years, if the Orioles or another club aren't able to convince Bedard to sign a contract extension, the highly touted left-hander will hit the open market as a free agent. If Bedard is available to the highest bidder, you can bet Toronto will get involved.
I recently read Keith Law's article on ESPN.com about the Top 100 prospects of 2008 and noticed he had two Jays farmhands on the list: Snider (No. 7) and Brett Cecil (No. 63). He said both of these players have a chance to make their big league debuts this season. Do you think we could see these players in Toronto in '08?
-- Matt S., London, Ontario
The way things stack up right now, the only way Snider and Cecil would see the Majors this year would probably be as callups in September. Then again, if the Jays get hit with the kind of injury problems they endured last season, I guess there's always the possibility that guys like Snider or Cecil could get the call sooner.
Snider's talent has been undeniable since the Jays took him with the 14th overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Over 172 games in the Minors, the 20-year-old outfielder has hit .316 with 27 home runs, 134 RBIs, a .388 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage.
Snider spent last season at Class A Lansing and could begin this year with Double-A New Hampshire. If he continues to progress as he has, Snider could more realistically force Toronto's hand some time in 2009. By 2010, he might just have a full-time job with the Jays. For now, Snider's heading to big league camp this spring as a non-roster invitee.
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Cecil has been a pleasant surprise since being taken with the 38th overall pick in last June's Draft. Cecil spent time as a closer at University of Maryland, but the Jays have plans of converting him into a starter. Last season, the 6-foot-3 lefty went 1-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts, and he struck out 56 and walked 11 over 49 2/3 innings.
If the Jays go conservative with Cecil's development, the 21-year-old would likely open '08 with Class A Lansing. The club might opt to test him out at Double-A, though. If Minor League lefties David Purcey and Rickey Romero struggle in '08, Cecil may just pass them on Toronto's radar. If that's the case, Cecil could be an emergency option for the Jays as soon as this year.
Even considering the Jays' previous record against him, how pumped should Toronto fans be that Johan Santana has been traded to the National League?
-- Kevin H., Waterloo, Ontario
Not just the Jays' fans, but the Blue Jays probably let out a collective sigh of relief upon hearing that Santana was dealt to the Mets. Had Santana landed with either the Yankees or Red Sox, Toronto's chances of competing for the AL East crown would've been made that much more difficult.
Then again, you hint at the fact that Santana -- two AL Cy Young Awards aside -- struggled against the Jays throughout his career. At Rogers Centre, he is 1-3 with a 5.76 ERA. Against the Jays, Santana is 2-4 with a 4.84 ERA. Last year, Toronto homered four times off the lefty on July 23. Maybe the Jays would've liked to see more of this guy. Nah, who am I kidding?
If Casey Janssen does in fact beat out Jesse Litsch for the fifth spot in Toronto's rotation, will Litsch go to the bullpen or go back to the Minors?
-- Jon W., Ancaster, Ontario
If Litsch is going to make the Blue Jays, it'll be as a starter. So if Janssen does indeed win the final starter's job, Litsch will be ticketed for the rotation at Triple-A Syracuse. The same goes for left-hander Gustavo Chacin, who is also in the running for the fifth spot. If Litsch or Chacin make Toronto's rotation, though, Janssen will likely return to the bullpen.
What are the Jays going to do with all of their infield utility men? Will Marco Scutaro end up playing some outfield?
-- Dave R., Thornhill, Ontario
The only utility men who project to be with the Blue Jays come Opening Day are John McDonald and Scutaro. McDonald can provide depth at second base, shortstop and third base. Scutaro can man each of those spots and also fill in as Toronto's fifth outfielder, if needed.
What happened to Ray Olmedo? I'm aware of the fact that the Jays designated him for assignment, but I'm not sure what the Jays did with him. Can you clue me in on this one?
-- Chad S., Toronto
Olmedo became expendable after Toronto acquired Scutaro and shortstop David Eckstein. Olmedo was indeed designated for assignment to clear room on the Jays' roster for catcher Rod Barajas. On Friday, Olmedo was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.