Last night on Twitter I was asked what seemed to me to be a simple enough question: “Would you be cool if only additions to Jays rotation are Dan Haren and Brett Anderson?”
Obviously I said yes. Or, at least, I thought the answer was obvious. Yet, much to my surprise, some people were taken aback. Pointing to Haren’s poor season and Anderson’s injury history and lack of overwhelming stuff, actual fans were turning their noses up at the suggestion.
While I have no clue how many might think that way, that there are any concerns me somewhat. Because, the thing is, flawed as they may be– and there is no doubt that these are two pitchers with some big ol’ red flags– I’d argue that acquiring Dan Haren and Brett Anderson this winter would represent an absolute coup for the Toronto Blue Jays, given the realities of the market for pitching.
That isn’t to say that we need to be worried that the market is entirely bereft. In mid-August I identified a number of free agent possibilities, as well as trade possibilities from both the American League and the National League, and there are certainly a number of interesting names.
Zack Greinke, Jake Peavy, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, Joe Blanton, and now Dan Haren look like decently solid free agent options, with some potential to also be had among Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum and Kyle Lohse, and a number of additional, interesting options with an even greater chance to not work out so hot.
On the trade front there are guys like James Shields and maybe David Price of the Rays, perhaps a Lance Lynn or Jamie Garcia from St. Louis, maybe someone from the Braves, Justin Masterson is reportedly going to be shopped, or there’s one-year guys like Josh Johnson and Matt Garza, and, of course, Anderson.
It’s not like those names represent the entirety of the market, or that there may not be guys who’ll be dealt that we’re not thinking of– as Alex Anthopoulos likes to say lately, nobody thought Adrian Gonzalez was going to get traded until it actually happened– and it’s not like there aren’t a lot of solid options for the Jays to target, but the trouble comes in when we remember that they’re hardly the only team that’s going to be in the market for starting pitching either.
Even just looking at the American League we see that the Angels will need pitching, especially if they really do decline Haren’s option and yet lose out on retaining Greinke. The Red Sox freed up a lot of money this summer and could use it there. The Yankees could certainly add to their rotation. And any of the AL Central teams could use help.
The Orioles could, too, and since this is a piece ostensibly about cold hard reality, I suppose I have no choice but to point out that, with a winning season, nice park, and an American market, fucking Baltimore likely has very seriously just leaped Toronto on the list of top destinations for potential free agents.
None of this, mind you, is to say that it’s going to be entirely impossible for Anthopoulos to pull off a pair of genuinely transformative moves where the rotation is concerned, it’s just going to be very, very hard– and very hard to please fans if their idea of satisfactory is something better than Haren and Anderson, flawed as they may be.
Like… so… Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke or bust then???
It’s crazy. And it makes me wonder if, already, the expectation game is getting away from them in some respects. I mean, obviously they need help in the rotation, but I refuse to believe AA’s task is quite so Herculean, given that just about anyone is going to be an improvement on what we’ve seen this year, as they’ve handed 30 starts to Henderson Alvarez, 16 to Carlos Villanueva, 15 to Aaron Laffey, 13 to Kyle Drabek and nine to Brett Cecil– none of whom would be returning to the rotation in an ideal world.
The issues, I guess, is whether mere “improvement” is going to be enough to win the PR war. On that, I’m not sure. And I have a sinking feeling that in the end we’ll be looking back, hurting more than ever as we remember the possibility of netting Yu Darvish last winter without having to give up a single prospect or needing to do any kind of sell job or over-payment related to the market. He was just sitting there to be taken, and Rogers stood around holding their dicks, willfully making Alex’s job this winter incalculably more difficult, risking that down the line they may actually, somehow, through the sheer force of incompetence and indifference, piss away the mountain of goodwill built up in the early days of their shrewd young GM. Very soon we’ll find out whether that risk was as rancid and craven as it now appears, and in a way it would almost be kinda fucking hilarious if it blows up in their faces.
But soooo not really. So so so so not really.