Hey! It… uh… it’s a Griff Bag!
That is, our traditional, caustic, foul-mouthed hijacking of Richard Griffin’s latest mail bag over at the Toronto Star. Because… um… why not?
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Do you believe the Jays are in rebuild mode if they are not in contention at the all-star break?
I don’t mean completely, but position players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie could all be dealt for younger guys and prospects close to MLB ready.
Even with Jose Reyes’ contract he has value to teams right now. Dealing some of these guys smartly, in line with our prospects already coming up, could put the Blue Jays in a good spot for 2015-16.
Trust me, it’s depressing for me to write this, but not as depressing as this off season has been.
It’s actually almost an exciting idea for me now.
Diego from Toronto.
You… don’t mean completely??? How the fuck does trading all of those guys not amount to a not-complete rebuild? Brett Lawrie won’t be a free agent until after 2017. Bautista, Dickey, Lind, and Encarnacion have below-market deals with options that can keep them here until after 2016. I mean, I understand that it might be an idea to move a bunch of players at the deadline this July if the club is out of it, but the kind of complete overhaul you’re talking about just isn’t necessarily realistic.
Those guys can still be tremendous building blocks — along with Jose Reyes, who is signed through 2017 at minimum — of a very, very good club, even as they age.
That doesn’t mean that the Jays have to keep them, but it certainly doesn’t mean they need to deal them or can’t make them part of the next phase that this club enters, either.
More realistic trade possibilities? Well… Rasmus and Cabrera are set to be free agents at the end of this season, but even dealing them would be complicated — Melky still has major questions to be answered about how healthy he is post-tumour, and how good his is post-PEDs, while Colby, if he plays well enough to maintain trade value and isn’t re-signed, will likely warrant a qualifying offer next winter, meaning that whatever the Jays get for him has to be at least as valuable as the draft pick they’d lose out on getting if he moves elsewhere. And if Melky keeps playing as well as he has this spring, the qualifying offer could certainly be a consideration for him, too.
In other words, as tempting as fans find it to fantasize about how the club might blow this all apart, it’s just not quite so simple. Plus, it’s not like it’s the core guys aren’t holding up their end of the bargain — it’s not like the core “doesn’t work,” it’s that the club hasn’t been able to build the right group of players around them. And this year, as thin as the roster looks on the surface and as hard as it is to feel confident in the health of guys like Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan, upon whom so many of the team’s early-season hopes rest, it’s not like it’s impossible that it works really, really well, either.
Regardless, while there might be some potential moves to made to better setup the club for the future, the full scale cathartic rebuild being hoped for by negative suckholes who don’t even like baseball and just want an instant gratification World Series probably isn’t in the cards. Nor should it be.
Could you please remind of those in the boat that contained the boatload of upper-level prospects that were traded to get J.A. Happ, Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey?
How have they fared in the years since?
OK, here goes:
For R.A. Dickey: This is the one that really hurts. Noah Syndergaard took a step forward last year, dominated double-A, and just looks like a real fuckin’ Texas horse in the making, with a big fastball and improving off-speed stuff. He still hasn’t done anything at the big league level, but at this point he’s easily better regarded than Aaron Sanchez, which ought to say a lot to Jays fans frothing at the mouth for Sanchez to be the ill-advised white knight designated to ride in and save the club’s season. And then there’s Travis d’Arnaud, who reportedly didn’t have a great spring, and who has had trouble staying on the field, but who could be a tremendous catcher if it all clicks. Tough, tough losses, both of them, especially considering the deficiencies the Jays tried and failed to fix over the winter. Since their big league impact has as yet been zero, for a win-now team they’d not be the worst losses, except the Jays, through inaction, tried very hard this winter to abdicate their position as a win-now team, making the deal now seem kind of dumb as fuck. (Though it wasn’t before, and don’t let any clown ever tell you otherwise).
For Reyes and Buehrle: First off, Josh Johnson was part of that trade too, and as much as Jays fans want to revise how they think of the deal to count Johnson as “nothing,” the club certainly traded for the chance that he might have been as good as he was in 2012, and that chance certainly had value, even if it turns out to have been a very, very incorrect thing to have used prospect capital on. Even still, they didn’t give up a tonne. Sure, Jake Marisnick has had a good spring, and Henderson Alvarez had a nifty 2013 (and a no hitter), though he kept balls in the yard at an unsustainably low rate. Meanwhile, Adeiny Hechavarria was one of the worst regulars in baseball last season — turns out, no matter how badly Alex Anthopoulos wants to think otherwise, that all the other tools in the world can’t make a terrible hitter a serviceable big leaguer — and Justin Nicolino and Anthony Descalfani continue to remain warm bodies and probably not a whole lot more, though most think Nicolino is an eventual big leaguer thanks to his outstanding command. He could even be better than that, I hear, if he finds a weapon of a pitch he can use to get more swing-and-miss, but… uh… so could I.
As for the Happ deal, I refer you to what I wrote last month about the woes of the prospects moved in that deal: Asher Wojciechowski is tenth on Baseball America’s list of the top Astros prospects, twelfth for Minor League Ball, and doesn’t make the the top tens from KLaw and Baseball Prospectus, or the top fifteen at FanGraphs. Dave Rollins has had some success as a pro, but only scrapes into the honourable mention at Minor League Ball — not even necessarily in the top 20. Joe Musgrove, the supposed hidden gem of the deal, turns 22 next month and has yet to play above rookie ball. Carlos Perez and Kevin Comer aren’t found on any of the lists either — though, like all of these guys, are not yet non-prospects, since it’s important to remember what a sickeningly loaded system Houston has built. Still, though!
In other words, pretending that it’s somehow the worst deal ever made by Alex Anthopoulos is kinda dumb. He’s done way worse. Shit, on an ideal Jays Opening Day roster there’d probably be four players he dumbly guaranteed multi-year money to sitting in the damn minor leagues! (Romero, Happ, Thole, Izturis).
I’ve been following the spring training games from afar, and particularly those by Miami. Seems to me that Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria look like they have the potential to be a solid core for the team in the future. And not a distant future, either. Now, I love watching Jose Reyes play, and teamed with Brett Lawrie, the left side of our infield looks like it will be awesome for years to come, but I can’t help but think that we gave up too much.That’s a lot of solid talent. And wouldn’t Henderson Alvarez look good in the Jays’ fifth starter spot about now?
Alvarez’s no-hitter was cool and I don’t wish him ill, but would I take him in my rotation over Drew Hutchison and a supposedly-healthy Dustin McGowan? Maybe. He’d be in the conversation. Maybe I’m horribly biased, but though he had great peripherals last year, and was a 1.9 WAR pitcher by both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, I’m just not sold on him. Again, his HR/FB rate was absurdly low last year, and he still issues too many walks and too few strikeouts. I mean… he’s alright, but would I write in to a national baseball writer’s mail bag to piss and moan about it? Hardly.
Those guys seem like they have good futures, though. Maybe. It’s just… they’re guys. If Marisnick figures it out — especially if Gose doesn’t — it might kinda hurt, but even still, I’ll take a couple years of Buehrle and a number of years of Reyes for that. For sure. Even if it, apparently, has brought the club up against it’s ownership-imposed dumb-as-fuck greedhead payroll limit. Even if!
Looking at the pitching that got sent to the minors it struck me that the Jays are getting a little fixated on options. Kyle Drabek and Sean Nolin (one is not good enough and one isn’t anywhere near ready) made sense. I know you don’t like to lose a player, but in this instance why not send Jeremy Jeffress down and keep either Chad Jenkins or Neil Wagner up? They are both better, though different pitchers. If somebody grabs Jeffress so what, he is hardly irreplaceable and the season is not likely to hang on his absence at the plate. Maybe start the season with the best players for a change.
On a brighter note I like the look of Dioner Navarro behind the plate—I know the story is he is not to be going to last a full season. Is that thought down to wear and tear or has lack of opportunity of recent time not given him chance to show he can?
Frank Taker, Prescott
Let’s be clear: I hate the eight-man bullpen thing the Jays are far too willing to do, even though it’s slightly more palatable given where starters Dustin McGowan and Brandon Morrow will be at when the club breaks camp. So… in a way I agree that risking losing Jeffress — who is currently behind Janssen, Delabar, Santos, Rogers, and maybe even Redmond on the right-handed reliever depth chart — but… it’s kinda hard to piss and moan about one guy getting some useless spot where he’s not going to get used near enough instead of some other guy getting some useless spot where he’s not going to get used near enough.
Jenkins and Wagner have options. It sucks for them, but… we’re talking about the thirteenth pitcher on the staff here. If keeping a guy in the organization is at stake, that’s fine. It’s not really a real roster spot. Certainly not worth worrying about — and certainly not on the behalf of Chad Jenkins and Neil Wagner. Either would slot in fine as the fourth-or-fifth right-hander in a too-big bullpen, I guess, but… I just can’t imagine giving a fuck.
As for Navarro, I’m actually optimistic, too. And I base that, of course, on absolutely nothing (which, to be clear, is actually more than this club got from its useless fucking shitty fucking insufferably arrogant and clueless catchers last year). HEYO!
After listening to the interviews with Alex Anthopoulos in the wake of Ervin Santana’s decision to take his talents to Atlanta, where Alex said an awful lot in saying nothing at all, my first thought was that I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of his office when he found out that he failed to get Santana. My second thought turned to Jose Bautista. Do you think that, going forward, the negotiations that appeared to end sourly between Anthopoulous and Jay Alou will have an effect on the relationship between the GM and Bautista, given that Jose is Alou’s most notable client?
Alex H, Toronto
Bautista’s under contract. He’s paid well. He’s not a free agent for three years, when he’ll be heading into his age 36 season.
If it’s in the financial interest of both sides at some point to extend the deal, they’ll extend the deal. That’s how it works. The other stuff is pretty hopelessly irrelevant, even though… yeah, you might hear about it, given that it’s an easy narrative to poke at.
Brendan Kennedy’s Thursday essay implied a wee bit of indifference on Dustin McGowan’s part about staying with the Jays (“Being out of options isn’t a bad thing,” he said, “if things don’t work out here, maybe there’s another team they will work out with”) and some indifference on the Jays’ part about retaining Esmil Rogers (Kennedy concludes that Rogers will “more likely end up on long relief or lost on waivers”).
I realize that McGowan is probably being more philosophical than anything at this point after everything he’s gone through. But it got me to thinking. Is there a team out there that might trade, say, a proven 3, 4, or 5 starter for two major-league-ready bullpen arms who can double as long relievers/spot starters? Maybe include a prospect in the deal? Our bullpen is deep and it’s a shame to let either of them go for nothing. But then again maybe teams don’t want to trade for out-of-options players when they can potentially get them on waivers? A Rogers/McGowan package, though, might be different.
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
Obviously things have changed since this question was posed, but to answer it: no. At least, not the kind of “proven 3″ or even the four you’re talking about. We’ve surely learned by now how much pitching depth is required to even come close to being competitive in the big leagues, so a team would have to have a lot of it to be willing to make that kind of deal, not to mention some kind of weirdly dumb reluctance to simply making a starter, who they think could give them 200 innings if there were room, into a reliever. If you’re talking about a five — the kind of Todd Redmond or J.A. Happ that every team possesses — then sure, someone would trade that for legitimate front-end bullpen pieces, but why would they do so with something more valuable? Bizarre trades happen, for sure, but the Jays almost turned Sergio Santos into Brett Anderson this winter, and while there’s a lot to like about what he has been able to do when healthy, that’s a great reliever for a starter who is, at best, a Morrow/McGowan level question mark in terms of health. Continuing to add pieces to make a quantity-over-quality deal that might satisfy the computer in whatever video game you play just isn’t very realistic. It happens, sure, but that Anthopoulos hasn’t fallen ass-backwards into such a bargain as yet is hardly some kind of knock.