The case of J.A. Happ and his tenure with the Blue Jays certainly is a curious one.
He was acquired in a maligned trade for what is still deemed too many “prospects” in some corners, even as the players the Astros received continue to prove the Jays right in their evaluation.
He then was the saviour that all Jays fans were pining for this time a year ago, as he put in a great Spring Training while seemingly being destined for Buffalo, as Ricky Romero — the incumbent, the club insisted, until the bitter end — imploded.
Now he’s the man everybody wants out. Alex Anthopoulos has talked up the organization’s youngsters, partly out of self-preservation after doing fuck all to improve the rotation in the off-season, and that’s who fans want to see. Not J.A. Happ and his too many pitches, too few strikeouts, and supposed general mediocrity, especially now that he has begun this spring with two miserable outings (hurt though he may have been).
Even the team itself is wavering. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet notes a tone change from Alex Anthopoulos, who now says two rotation spots may be up for grabs, admitting Happ’s early performance and sore back have caused concerns. Happ’s next start has been pushed back, according to a tweet from Mike Wilner, and the Jays aren’t saying when he’ll be on the mound next– perhaps he’s this year’s Brett Cecil or Ricky Romero, whisked away from prying eyes and getting his work in at unannounced times to keep the media from making his possible failure to make the team a bigger story than they want it to be (as if that ever works).
I don’t know, though. If he ends up returning to health and to the rotation competition in short order, frankly, I’m not sure the kids are necessarily as much better than a lot of fans think they’re going to be. But the bigger question is: better than what? Just who is J.A. Happ, and how do we get a handle on what we think he might bring to the Jays, given the ebbs and flows of his career since he was brought here in the most boring ten-player deal in history?
It’s an interesting question…