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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blue Jays - Signed Ohka

Toronto Blue Jays - Signed P Tomokazu Ohka to a 1-year contract.

This comes in at $1.5 million.  Call me stupid, but I rather have a player coming off of rotator cuff surgery rather than rotator cuff rehab.  Does the “rehab the torn rotator cuff” plan every really work all that well?  Perhaps I’m just biased due to the cases of Todd Stottlemyre and Sidney Ponson, who both chose “ignore it and hope it goes away” medical option over surgery recommendations.  Stottlemyre ruined his elbow trying to compensate for the shoulder injury and Ponson pitched well for a while until batters caught up to his weaker stuff and now he’s essentially done as well.

I also don’t really see the benefit for the Blue Jays.  Shoulder in one piece, I’d take him over all but Halladay and Burnett, but I don’t feel that Ohka is one of the 5 best starting pitchers in the Jays organization.

2007 ZiPS Projections
Player     W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA
Ohka     7   7 25 23 137 149   74 21 39 69 4.86

Dan Szymborski Posted: January 24, 2007 at 01:44 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 24, 2007 at 05:43 AM (#2285511)
Got no idea on the rehab vs. surgery -- doesn't seem to me that either works very well.

But at 1 year, $1.5 this is a perfectly fine flier. If they can that 4.86 ERA (big if), that will be a major bargain. Worst-case scenario, they get Jason Marquis at 1/4 of the price and 1/3 of the commitment. :-)

I know, I know, we'll all be using Carlos Lee, Barry Zito, and Jason Marquis to justify any contract for the next three years.
   2. MSI Posted: January 24, 2007 at 06:09 AM (#2285518)
Well that's the big question I have. How have other pitchers who rehabbed their partially torn rotator cuffs fared. I really don't have many good comparisons, but you brought up two. My instinct, is that they all suck after these surgeries, hence I don't get the scarmble for Mulder, etc. But in context, it's a roll of the dice, as with Thomson. Maybe he can be league average for X amount of innings. This way, it doesn't rely on the youth starters because if they don't do well, which is very likely considering many were rushed, then there's no plan B. Sure, it may not work out. But you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket. Imagine how good it would be if Thomson and Ohka both threw 160 innings each, on average we'll say, with a 4.60 ERA, or whatever league average will be. The cost is just not much at all, if they stink, move them to the pen, bring up Rookie A, or just cut him right away.
   3. MSI Posted: January 24, 2007 at 06:13 AM (#2285520)
Those peripherals are icky. His ERA and W/L would be much worse I'm pretty sure at that rate. They kinda look like what Chacin could throw. Jeez so many of the young Jays pitchers are just almost good, but not quite. They all lack a little something in velocity and strikeout rate.
   4. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:02 AM (#2285530)
Still better than Ramon Ortiz at $3.1 millions, hands down.
   5. kwarren Posted: January 24, 2007 at 07:48 AM (#2285538)
While I definitely prefer quality to quantity, when you can't get the former, stocking up on the latter can't really hurt, especially at these prices. It looks like the Jays' tentative rotation is now Halladay, Burnett, Chacin, Thomson, & permitting. Plan B would be Towers, Marcum, Janssen, McGowan, and Downs....not exactly hopeless, and there is still Taubenheim and Davis Romero. With the offense the Jays rate to have and Halladay, Burnett, and Ryan leading the way a little mediocre pitching could take this team a long way. In addition League, Accardo, and Frasor should be at least adequate as set-up guys. The Jays could win 90 games in 2007, but still finish third in the division.
   6. rawagman Posted: January 24, 2007 at 08:56 AM (#2285545)
Who was it who said that most of the value in being great is taken up in simply being average?
   7. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 24, 2007 at 09:01 AM (#2285547)
Bill James. He certainly didn't mean that the consistently average were great.

That said? I like this signing. This is miniscule money for someone who has a reasonable chance of being, well, average.
   8. Russ Posted: January 24, 2007 at 12:58 PM (#2285556)
Bill James. He certainly didn't mean that the consistently average were great.

Yes, but I think 6's point is that one of the things that makes great players great is that even when they're struggling, they're average. Because of the skewed distribution of talent at each position, "average" is probably almost by definition pretty good. If you're putting out mean-level production, you're probably in at least the 40&#xil;e of players at your position.
   9. Russ Posted: January 24, 2007 at 12:58 PM (#2285557)
Err... 60&#xil;e.
   10. MSI Posted: January 24, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2285590)
I find that's especially so for pitchers now. Average is good. 4.5 ERA and 200 IP? You've done a great job sir.
   11. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: January 24, 2007 at 03:01 PM (#2285605)
No one's mentioned the other potentially devastating ramifications of this signing. If this pushes Towers out of the rotation, it significantly reduces our chances of winning a free jersey in the ZiPS thread. Towers will never make it to 176 IP as a backup. I now understand why JP has such a bad reputation in the media. He's clearly selfish at the expense of others.
   12. MSI Posted: January 24, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2285653)
Ha. That's right. Towers is officially far removed from pitching in the bigs this year. Unless he has a strong first month. Do you think anyone would trade for him? Honestly, if I'm a crappy NL team like the Pirates or Nationals, I would take him and try him out, seriously. Could the Jays somehow trade him for nothing and not eat salary? Perhaps if they get nothing but eating salary its more worth it to keep him in the minors just in case.
   13. Old Matt Posted: January 24, 2007 at 04:29 PM (#2285662)
I guess Towers will be in my backyard at Syracuse. Maybe I can go tell him what's riding on his season.
   14. Craig in MN Posted: January 24, 2007 at 05:17 PM (#2285691)
I find that's especially so for pitchers now. Average is good. 4.5 ERA and 200 IP? You've done a great job sir.

I think the problem here isn't so much that getting to average is tough (which is certainly true), but it's hard to say what average is. Only 32 pitchers pitched better than a 4.5 ERA in 200 or more IP last season. That definition of average isn't average at all.
   15. MSI Posted: January 24, 2007 at 06:04 PM (#2285730)
Well average ERA in 32 starts...thats gonna give you a qualifying number of innings by default, and if your good, you'll reach 200 or more IP. Lilly had 180 IP last year (I think) and a decent ERA and ended up signing that deal. Same with Padilla, and Meche, I guess. These are the 2nd tier pitchers. They are better than the Armas's and Ramon Ortiz's of the world, but worse than the 1 and 1a pitchers.
   16. mr. man Posted: January 24, 2007 at 08:14 PM (#2285805)
the 'average' point is that an average pitcher isn't necessarily going to be the ace of your staff as much as he fills out your rotation such that you're not forced to give starts to below-replacement alternatives. If ohka pitches 160 innings with an ERA of 5.00, instead of letting, say towers pitch 160 innings and an ERA of 5.75 (i'd say those are believeable numbers) then ohka has prevented 15 runs against replacement-level towers. That's a win and a half gained, roughly; well worth $1.5 million.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 24, 2007 at 09:39 PM (#2285838)
Looks like Gibbons will have to learn how to chew out players in Japanese if he wants to start a fight with pitching staff this year.
   18. Johnny Tuttle Posted: January 28, 2007 at 02:36 PM (#2287555)
Wasn't it Neyer who pointed that if teams can just avoid being below average at most positions, their stars can lead them to the playoffs? I butchering his point to the point of making it seem like "well, duh," but kwarren made me somewhat remember it.

If the Jays can simply filter through several options at the back of the rotation to avoid playing clearly below average pitchers this year or hopefully to ride hot streaks, that might be enough.

Now if they can somehow finangle a return to the fold for Hinske and if Clayton/Macdonald/sinking SS hole of playoff death is better than expected, this team can make some noise.
   19. BTF's left-wing cheering section (formerly_dp) Posted: January 28, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2287627)
I asked this question in another thread- is it best to start Lind in AAA if they're trying to contend? It seems like he has nothing left to prove, and between a LF/DH rotation, could get a decent amount of productive AB. They are set up to be at least average at every position except for SS. I'm hoping Clayton is on the bench all year and that Smith or anyone else works out.

In isolation, they're better positioned this year than they were last. But the Yankees and Red Sox will be better, and the Rays are getting it together. It's gonna be tough, and they've got a lot riding on Thomas, Burnett and Glaus being healthy.
   20. MSI Posted: January 29, 2007 at 03:00 AM (#2287848)
Lind would absolutely have enough AB as a 4th OF. Even if healthy, Thomas is set to miss about 30 games at DH. Reed Johnson is likely to regress, so if it became a platoon again, he'd be getting most at bats versus righties. He could get 500 AB that way. IT's absolutely way better for the team's contending chances. I hope that in spring training, certain things happen that make the order better, namely Stairs doesn't make it and maybe Olmedo and Smith are SS...apparently the Indians would take McDonald back (why have him and Clayton on the same team?). The bench is godawful. Unfortunately, the REd SOx and Yankees buy their division again, so its gonna be damn near impossible, but I'd saw the Jays have a fighting chance.

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