There is nothing quite so gratifying as a great big dump. Salary dump, that is. Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos.
Over the past six or seven months, the Toronto Blue Jays have parted company with Roy Haladay, Scott Rolan, Alex Rios, Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas. These moves represent a salary dump for the 2010 season of a little over $47 million.
The five players who will replace Halladay et al—John Buck, Alex Gonzalez, Travis Snider, Edwin Encarnacion, and one entry-level starting pitcher—will earn slightly more than $10 million for the coming season.
This is a $37 million payroll savings which will be mirrored by a drop in on-field performance of similar proportion. The team's front office has apparently written off the 2010 campaign as a “development season.”
The question is: Will the Jays replace the somewhat improved Washington Nationals as the only MLB team with 100 or more losses in 2010?
If you can believe the statistics, there's a very good chance that this is exactly what's going to happen. Here's the bad news for Jays fans.
After an exceptional start (27-14) last year, the Jays played .397 ball for the last three-quarters of the season (121 games; 48-73 record). A .397 winning percentage over 162 games would yield 64 wins and 98 losses.
Let's compare the overall impact of the “salary dumped” players with their 2010 replacements.
Although Encarnacion may hit more home runs than Rolen in 2010, Rolen hits for higher average, has a superior on-base percentage, runs the bases better, fields much, much better, and he is almost sure to knock in more RBI and score more runs.
There may not be too much to choose from defensively between these two, but Gonzalez has almost no chance of matching Scutaro's 2009 offensive production.
Barajas is better defensively than Buck, particularly throwing out base runners. Although both players are low-average hitters, Barajas had 71 RBI last year while 50 RBI was Buck's best ever.
If Snider has a major breakout year, his offensive production could easily exceed what Rios did last year. However, Rios' defense—especially his rifle arm—is much superior to Snider's.
Losing the services of Harry Leroy “Doc” Halladay is the main reason why the Jays (who lost 87 games in 2009) could easily lose 100 games in 2010. Doc's statistics more than prove the point.
Last year, the Blue Jays' staff had a 4.47 ERA over 1,451 innings. Take Halladay's 239 innings and 2.79 ERA (17-10 won-lost record) out of the equation and the rest of the staff's ERA climbs to 4.75. This is how dramatically a future Hall of Famer's production can impact his team.
No rookie pitcher can hope to match Halladay's statistics. Doc's winning percentage in 2009 was .629. Extended out to 162 games, this percentage yields 102 wins.
Still, even with Halladay, the Jays had a .397 winning percentage (48-73) over the last 121 games last year. Without him, it would have fallen to .347 (42-79). Extended out to 162 games, a .347 winning percentage is the equivalent of 56 wins and 106 losses.
Blue Jays fans who actually believe that their team can contend in 2010 should drop to their knees without delay and start praying to some of the more influential baseball gods.
Be sure to mention the “Whiz Kids," the 1950 Phillies, in your begging, pleading, bargaining, kvetching, and whining. If those overachieving sad sacks could win a pennant, anybody can.