January 29, 2007

O(h)K(a), Blue Jays!

First things first - I've got to shoutout another one of my faithful international readers (if you're counting, this is number two...of two), Karan Raina, repping the great city of New York. He's been waiting for his Sports And The City shoutout. He and a few of my other buddies went down to the NHL All-Star festivities in Dallas earlier this week. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, and missed a chance to schmooze with the Magnificent One Mario Lemieux (pictured), Evgeni Malkin, Carlton the Bear and Gary Bettman. Karan and the boys had a private box for the Skills Competition and seats 10 rows behind the glass for the All-Star game. Ridiculous.

The boys also ran into a Mr. John Ferguson Jr., who guaranteed a Leafs' playoff birth. Ferguson clearly must have been drunk. I'd have a drinking problem if I were him.

Now let's get down to blogging business. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays to our great, and insanely cold, city.

Tomo Ohka, welcome to the T Dot.

JP Ricciardi and the Jays announced Wednesday that Ohka has signed a one year deal with the club, at $1.5 million. The deal could be worth as much as $3 million, with incentives based on the number of starts Ohka makes.

But I don't care about the money.

I think this is a really good signing by JP, even though it was met with no fanfare. There was no big press conference, no pictures; nothing. Only a press release.

Talk about a hit to Ohka's pride eh? I guess in baseball terms, he pretty much is a nobody. But at the end of the day, he's less of a nobody than that weasel Josh Towers, and that's why I'm excited. The more arms JP adds to the starting rotation, the more likely it is that Josh Towers will spend the season in Triple A, where he belongs. It's all about addition by subtraction, my friends. No Josh Towers improves this baseball club.

However, if you look a little deeper into the Ohka signing, it could work out extremely well, especially considering Ohka's salary.

In losing Ted Lilly, the Jays lost about 180 innings. JP's main focus is to eat up those innings, hence the signings of John Thomson and Ohka. These guys are penciled in as the fourth and fifth starters - basically the back end of the rotation. It's Doc Halladay, AJ Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, Ohka, and Thomson. Ohka could even be spotted in the three spot, because Chacin is just a five inning wonder. He throws the most pitches, it's ridiculous. Through 5 innings he'll be up around 100 pitches. It's tough on the bullpen.

Anyways, the point that I'm taking so long to make is that Ohka's numbers are astonishingly similar to Ted Lilly's - yes the same Ted Lilly whom JP offered $10 million a season to stay in Toronto.

Both guys are going to be 31 in the 2007 season, and here are their career stats:

Ted Lilly
Career Starts: 160
Innings Pitched: 936
ERA: 4.60
Overall Record: 59-58

Tomo Ohka
Career Starts: 162
Innings Pitched: 943
ERA: 4.04
Overall Record: 48-58

Ohka has pitched more innings, albeit only by a few, but his ERA is significantly lower than Lilly's. They've both lost 58 games, and Lilly's got more wins because he's played on a Jays team that has had a great offense. Ohka spent a couple of seasons with Montreal, and some time with Washington and Milwaukee - not exactly offensive juggernauts. He's just never been blessed enough to play on a team that actually gives him some run support - until now. This guy could easily win 15 games like Lilly did last year.
Ohka's agent even said that when Ohka and Milwaukee went to arbitration last year, he compared Ohka's stats to Lilly's in the actual hearing.

Of course, with any investment, there is some risk. Ohka spent significant time on the DL last season. He needs to stay healthy in order to payoff. A brilliant statement, I know. But Lilly spent his fair share of time on the DL in the last two years as well. With any pitcher there is significant risk. It's the nature of the beast.

But wouldn't you rather invest $3 million, rather than $10 million, on an arm that might give you the same results? I would. Props out to JP Ricciardi.

Remember, I believe in JP.

"O(h)K(a) Blue Jays, Let's Play Ball!"

Sing it. Loud and proud.

I'm looking forward to baseball season - can you tell?

Random Musings:

- Huge shoutout to ALL-STAR STARTER Chris Bosh. He's most deserving of that title and it's good to see that people are starting to recognize him. Maybe playing basketball in Toronto isn't so bad, eh? The Raptors really needed Bosh to repair the tarnished image of basketball in Canada that Vince Carter left behind. Rob Babcock didn't help much either. But alas, the past is the past. Bosh and Colangelo have righted the ship.

- The Leafs dominated Montreal once again, and have points in every game against the Habs this season. If only the Leafs could play Montreal all the time. Pavel Kubina had 2 goals and 1 assist, and it looks like he's finally healthy and confident. It took way too long for this guy to get going. I credit Kaberle. As soon as Kubina started playing wit Kabby, he's been much better.

- Back to the NBA All-Star starting line-up. How the HELL did Steve Nash not get voted in? That's absurd. He's going to win his third straight MVP, and solidify his legacy as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. Kid Canada, baby.

- Great point by Toronto Star writer Dave Perkins about pessimism being in the eye of the beholder. Both the Leafs and Raptors are around .500 (winning percentages). The Leafs and their fans are up in arms at their state, while the Raptors are beaming about not being so pathetic anymore. Perkins is dead-on in saying that both teams are in similar situations as to their performance, but that for the Leafs the glass is half empty, while for the Raps it's half full. So true.

- Rumour has it the Colorado Rockies might trade Todd Helton to the Boston Red Sox. That is horrendous news for Jays fans, if it's true. Woe is I - such is life in the American League East.
I think that's it.
Goodnight, Toronto...