When they’re not talking about how well the Jays are doing on the field, or the small but significant trade the Jays made yesterday — shedding catching depth, as Alex Anthopoulos seems to love to do so much — they’re talking about the money that’s available to the club, or the lack thereof. John Lott gets to the nut in a piece from the National Post on Monday. “Anthopoulos used to say: Ownership has given us every confidence that the cash is there if we need it. We have to sell the trade as an upgrade for the baseball club, of course, but Rogers has never said no to that kind of deal,” he explains. “When asked recently if he could add payroll, Anthopoulos said he could add players, and players make money, so there. (‘No one plays for free,’ he added, just to erase any ambiguity.) The GM said he is confident the Jays have the “resources” to acquire players at the deadline. In the absence of new money, ‘resources’ is code for players. Toronto can trade players for players.”
As always, it’s more complicated than just complaining about cheap Rogers. Their short-sightedness here is evident, but for once it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand their holding firm on the stance that the payroll is very healthy (10th in MLB), and if the front office has a problem it’s with the way they themselves have allocated that money. That, too, is complicated, as there were surely internal pressures on Alex Anthopoulos to do something major in the off-season between 2012 and 2013, rather than to coast again on false hope while shrewdly rebuilding as the best years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went to waste. On the other hand, the front office needed to know better than to have put themselves in this kind of situation, bloating the payroll so badly with added backloaded deals that in the event that ownership somehow wanted to tighten the purse strings — even as they paid through the dickholes for fucking hockey rights — they’d be without the kind of wiggle room they could truly use right now. But let’s not be too soft on ownership here. After all, there’s only one group in this mess who gets what it wants, and it sure isn’t the fans, or the players, or the organization itself.
For all my pissing and moaning, though, we still don’t even know for sure that it’s true that the Jays are resigned to cash-neutral deals heading into Thursday’s deadline, and that they’ll be cut off at the balls when some expensive deals are moved in waiver trades through the month of August. It sure fucking feels like it, and I’m certainly not betting on Guy Laurence riding in on a white horse with a bag of money — a hat for the players to pass around, however, I wouldn’t put past him — but it’s also true that the Jays continue to be rumoured to be monitoring players whose contracts would definitely require more payroll to digest (and please, put away your crackpot Ricky Romero theories away). That at least makes plausible some of the ideas in the excellent guide to possible Jays additions from Ben Nicholson-Smith over at Sportsnet. (Or if it doesn’t, just for a minute pretend these Jays are a team that operates somewhat normally).
Elsewhere at Sportsnet, and speaking of those August deals the Jays aren’t likely to be too heavily involved in (unless it’s for guys at the league minimum — like for whoever they need to scramble to get to catch if one of Thole or Navarro goes down), last week Ben gave us a primer on the trade rules for once Thursday’s deadline passes, which is important, as a lot of executives seem to think there will be just many deals then as there will be this month — especially since it will allow teams more time to assess whether they’re really in a playoff race or not.
Similarly on this theme, over at the Toronto Star, Brendan Kennedy gives his two cents on why Anthopoulos may be through dealing for the week already, while making some suggestions at guys he could end up targeting anyway, and also looking at the tough roster decisions that will be coming once guys like Adam Lind (who is the closest to returning, according to a notebook post at BlueJays.com from Gregor Chisholm), Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie return to health.
Speaking of guys getting healthy, also in Gregor’s notebook post is a mention of Brandon Morrow, who we’re told is likely to be a reliever when/if he returns to a big league mound this season, mostly because the club doesn’t think they’ll have time to get him stretched out enough to start anyway. Not that they need help in the rotation at the moment — though, of course, that can change quickly.
Back to the Star, Richard Griffin looks at Anthony Gose’s recent run of success, and how he’s giving the Jays a lot to think about as they head toward a roster crunch in the coming weeks, and as they try to clear up their outfield picture for 2015. Meanwhile, Josh Rubin tries to slow down the praise train when it comes to Aaron Sanchez, looking at a number of “can’t miss” Jays prospects who missed (as well as some who hit — either way, no Travis Snider, amazingly), while Zoe McKnight checks into the state of fandom at the Rogers Centre, and specifically hecklers, who have, uh… grown up a bit this year?
Over at the Toronto Sun, Mike Rutsey opines that the Jays missed an opportunity when they let Chase Headley go to the Yankees, because apparently we’re not too big on worrying about injuries likely to be exacerbated by the turf or the fact that Headley had been something on the order of hot garbage at the plate this year.
Meanwhile, last week Bob Elliott took an extended look at some of the Jays’ best prospects, with help from BA’s John Manuel.
Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at which teams have been victimized the most by good pitch framing from their opponents (as opposed to how they victimize themselves by not always seeming to value their own catchers’ framing skills — well, except when they traded for Erik Kratz and Travis d’Arnaud and Jeff Mathis before, y’know, they traded them away). Um… anyway, the Jays have suffered the fourth-most in baseball this with 97 extra strikes having not gone their way. I’m thinking that being in a division with excellent framers like McCann, Molina, David Ross, as well as the Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park Strike is probably going to make that a bit of a thing.
Elsewhere at FanGraphs, last week Marc Hulet included Taylor Cole among “The Fringe Five,” which is FG’s list of the most compelling fringe prospects. “Younger Blue Jays prospects Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have both been promoted from High-A Dunedin to Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, while Cole remains in the Florida State League — this, despite having recorded the best strikeout and walk figures among the triumvirate,” he explains. “In point of fact, Cole has produced the best strikeout rate and walk rates among any pitcher eligible for inclusion in this weekly column.”
Interesting stuff from the farm, as Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s gives a breakdown of a recent shakeup in the Canadians’ rotation, and a look at a couple of Bluefield Blue Jays he’d like to see move up to the Northwestern League for a spell — including the still-intriguing Matt Smoral.
At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Jim Bowden looks at the trade deadline objectives for each AL East team, checking off the usual boxes for the Jays (pre-Valencia): a starter, a reliever, and a right-handed hitting second- or third-baseman. He doesn’t even seem to suggest that the club could be hampered by the money issue, so that’s encouraging. However, he suggests they flip Jairo Labourt and Alberto Tirado for effing Joaquin Benoit. Seems steep, but I do get it. Those guys are still some serious lottery tickets at this point. Might even be guys to move before the shine comes off them too much after they each had pretty forgettable seasons — at least statistically — that won’t lead to them jumping up on anybody’s top prospect board any time soon.
Lastly, just in case you wanted to know, MLBTR notes that Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-FM tweets that the Jays were interested in Darwin Barney before he was moved, and had kicked the tires on Gordon Beckham as well. He suggests that Beckham’s slump slowed the progress of any deal, which sort of makes one wonder… did they start working on this deal four years ago? Because Beckham has been “slumping” at the plate for about that long.