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Blue Jays have sticker shock over free agent closer demands

Nov 14, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

Alex Anthopoulos Reuters

Toronto is in the market for a veteran closer, but Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes that they’ve “been shocked at the dollars” free agents are asking for and general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated that they may turn to the trade market instead.

Anthopoulos talked specifically about not wanting to give out a four- or five-year deal to a reliever and suggested he’ll be shopping “prospects” in an effort to land a closer under team control for a more reasonable cost.

Elliott speculates that Toronto will still be in the mix for Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, and Joe Nathan as free agents and it’s unclear who exactly they’d be going after via trade, but some obvious possibilities are Drew Storen, Brandon League, Carlos Marmol, Huston Street, and Andrew Bailey.

This year Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch split closing duties for the Blue Jays with underwhelming results and they’re both free agents.

  1. dan1111 - Nov 14, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Wait…what do the Blue Jays need a proven closer for?

  2. ame123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Oh, so you mean you got to actually pay money to free agents and there is a supply and demand issue almost like a free market of some kind.

    • Mark - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      I’d say the shock is more about closers who aren’t all that valuable getting paid 10M+ to throw 60 innings at a point where teams win 85% of their games anyways.

      • ame123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Ok, be the smart guy and go with unproven ‘in-house’ guys. When said guy blows a few saves in the middle of a playoff race, we’ll see who’s valuable and who’s not.

      • paperlions - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        Yeah, the Cardinals are kicking themselves for going with in house guys all the time. Yeah, I know…small sample size, but, as an index to the importance of signing a “proven” FA closer…the Phillies are the only team in the last 7 years that won the WS with a closer that didn’t come up through their system….most of which were “unproven” at the time.

        Most teams have a lot of closer prospects, they are called fringe starters.

      • ame123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        Except the Cardinals need a monumental Braves collapse to even get, thanks in large part to the crappy closers they were trotting out most of the year. Thanks for making my point.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        Had the Braves made it, that would have still been the same argument for not needing a proven closer… considering they had two rookies who were arguably the best two relievers in the NL last year.

      • thefalcon123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

        Well AME, the Cardinals actually won *two* world series with one unproven closers (Wainwright in 06). Actually, the Cardinals may have no had such a hard time marking the playoffs if they’re “proven” closer Ryan Franklin didn’t suck so hard.

      • thefalcon123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 2:06 PM

        List of WS participants with MLB closer experience prior to that season in the past 10 years:

        2011 Cardinals: Jason Motte, 3 career saves prior to 2011
        2010 Rangers: Feliz: 2 career saves
        2006 Cardinals: Wainwright, 0 career saves
        2005 White Sox: Dustin Hermanson, 17 career saves
        2003 Marlins: Looper, 18 career saves

    • Kyle - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Right. If everyone is paying 2 million dollars for houses that are worth 500,000 then anyone who doesn’t jump on that awesome deal is an idiot.

  3. shawndc04 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    As a Nationals fan, I’m pretty confident that the club will not trade Storen at this point, as we do not have someone to step in as a proven closer. Secondly, the Jays do not have anyone who meets our needs, i.e.
    good hitting center fielder. Davis is too old and doesn’t have much of an arm, and Colby is, well, Colby.

    • cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM

      Hey, AA will slap a coat of paint on Colby and bundle him up with his old man and I bet he’ll leverage him onto the Nationals faster than you can saw “Vernon Wells”. This time, though, when you send the equivalent of a Mike Naploi AA’s way, I sure hope he sees what he’s getting and either hangs onto him or trades big.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      You know who wasn’t a proven MLB closer at this time last year? Drew Storen.

      • shawndc04 - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        No , he wasn’t, but he was to be groomed as a closer. We were at least respectable this past season and we have hopes for for a better than .500 season in 2012. Thus we don’t want to groom a closer; rather we’d rather have one at hand.

      • okobojicat - Nov 14, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        oh, Shawn…I read your original comment as straight, awesome, fantastic satire. Now you tell me it isn’t so. I even gave you a thumbs up.

        “Proven Closers” are just one bad week of being the next “Kevin Gregg” or Matt Capps. They are heavily over rated. Overpaying (and over valuing) a closer is rampant. A great closer is successful 90% of the time. An average closer is successful 85% of the time. That is a two game swing over 162 games. Moreover, because of yearly fluctuations in closer luck, injury, and other factors, closers jump around that number all the time.

        Not only are they not easy to predict, but because they pitch so few innings, invested lots of money in them is dumb. Spending lots of money on a piece – thus not being able to use that money elsewhere – only doubles that stupidity.

  4. fummer34 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Almost everything A.A has touched has turned into gold so far bd being a small market team in the AL east isn’t easy but were getting close to the playoffs. Solid farm system good major league players under team control, low pay roll and a manager that has the respect of his players. Sounds like a recipe for success

    • ame123 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      Small Market team? Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America. Go cry your small market tears to someone who cares.

      • paperlions - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        For baseball, they are a small market team….for baseball, Mexico City is a small market team.

      • tekton8 - Nov 14, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        Agreed…Toronto was getting over 4 million a year in attendance when they were winning in the early 90s… that’s about as big as it gets… Toronto has been crippled by ownership and management over the years, not their market.

    • allstev - Nov 14, 2011 at 6:41 PM

      where does this perception come from? It’s a city the size of Chicago.. with one team, with a TV market the size of California all to themselves..with an owner who owns the sports network that gets into those 35 million homes..the antithesis of small market I would say. They start winning and the Yankees will be the only ones to outspend them.

  5. cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Alex was hoping to entice a closer to Toronto for the weather, strong Canadian dollar and all the seal blubber they could eat. He’d lined up a charming split level igloo with an attached double dog sled garage and everything…

    If the Beaver Men did what other teams did, and won >80% of their games that they led by a run or 2 after 7 innings, then this would be a non-issue. Instead they won about 50% of those games. The need a closer the way a carpenter needs 400 grit sandpaper; its all about the finish.

    A decent late reliever would have meant about eight or nine more wins in 2011.

    • Alex K - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      Right now the Canadian dollar and the US dollar are pretty much equal. 1 $US = 1.0167 $CAD.

      • cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Right. I know that. Same way I know about the igloos and dog sleds.

        Memo to HBT; Irony Font for 2012, please…and an edit function while you lot are at it….

      • Alex K - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        The $CAD was stronger there for a while. It is reasonable to think that you hadn’t checked lately.

        You guys don’t live in igloos? The main form of transportation isn’t dog sleds? Great, now my whole idea of Canada is broken.

        What are you going to tell me next? The Vancouver airport isn’t shaped like a phallically shaped?

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        Right now the Canadian dollar and the US dollar are pretty much equal. 1 $US = 1.0167 $CAD.

        DON’T remind me… I bought my house in July… (Forehead, meet Wall!)

      • cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        I sold my house in July. Best time to sell. Prices are highest because demand is highest. Mind you I bought it in a November for half what I sold it for…when prices were at there lowest…igloos that last till July are at a premium I guess.

    • missthemexpos - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      C68, you are in top form today, no doubt started your day off with Canadian back bacon, Canadian maple syrup and some java from the nearest Tim Hortons. I like the idea of AA trading for a young reliever, long term deals for veteran relievers have the same amount of risk as investing in Greek bonds.

      • cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        MTE, with the exception of the Timmy Ho’s, you nailed it. I make my own coffee. Same way the Beaver Men should make their own closer, maybe. Its what you gotta do if you don’t wanna spend for the good stuff?

    • yankeesfanlen - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      And that’s what I love about the BeaverMen! (more wins for us)
      Cur, any good recipes for Thanksgiving Moose?

      • cur68 - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        I myself enjoy a nice moose knuckle every now and then….besides we had Thanksgiving last month in these parts. I suggest a mooturducken: moose, stuffed with turkey, stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken. Tastes just like 9 banded armadillo (or, if you’re from Guatemala, like tatu). Salut!

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 14, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      Alex was hoping to entice a closer to Toronto for the weather, strong Canadian dollar and all the seal blubber they could eat. He’d lined up a charming split level igloo with an attached double dog sled garage and everything…

      Maybe AA should sign Broxton… he LOOKS like a seal and could be dog sled to the mound with those dogs…

  6. Francisco (FC) - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    You know, that picture of AA reminds me of Johnny Cage from MK.

  7. Kevin S. - Nov 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Rafael Soriano, with the Yankees eating some salary. Go.

  8. dirtyharry1971 - Nov 14, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    bluejays still have a team?

  9. carol6645 - Nov 20, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    This is what i’ve supposed all along! The Blue Jays are a forgotten team to MLB!
    They have stars on board who will make everyone REMEMBER them!! Remember Bautista? Remember Escobar, Hill, Cecil ETC and ETC!!
    Shame!

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