Archive for the ‘Trade Deadline’ Category

07-BigAnthopoulos

Where’s the money, Anthopoulos?

So the trade deadline has passed — the non-waiver one, at least — and as expected the Jays were quiet. The Danny Valencia addition earlier in the week was a nice little one, to be sure, but nothing lined up for them.

Surveying the deals that other clubs were able to make it’s easy to see why.

For how much it was talked about, money doesn’t seem to have been the issue — or not the biggest one, at least. We’ll still have time to raise pitchforks about it when salary dumps start, and the Yankees getting Martin Prado (and the $3.67-million he’s owed this year, plus $22-million for the next two, plus a $1-million trade bonus) certainly is a move where the mythical financial resources Alex Anthopoulos always insists that he has — as he did again Thursday, speaking with reporters in a post-deadline conference call — may have come into play. But let’s maybe sit back and think about all this for a moment.

Let’s think about Prado and the money he’d add to what’s strongly presumed to be an already tight 2015 budget, which to this point hasn’t yet found room to accommodate a Melky Cabrera extension. Let’s think about potentially blowing the ability to resign Melky in order to take on the age-31 and 32 seasons of a right-handed 3B/LF whose last four seasons by wRC+ have looked like this: 89, 117, 104, 81. Let’s think about a guy whose best defensive position is already manned by Brett Lawrie, and a guy whose value is strongest against left-handed pitching, where the Jays are already quite strong with the much cheaper Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia.

Let’s think about the teams that really made big improvements — the Tigers and the A’s. Let’s think about how well-positioned they are to avoid the Wild Card play-in game, and burning their best available starter in it on the cusp of a divisional series, and what an advantage that might give them. The playoffs are bit of a crapshoot, yes, but only one of the eight teams to have played in the play-in game since the format was adopted two years ago has actually ended up moving on to a League Championship Series.

Let’s think about the kinds of players who did get moved today. Let’s think about Joe Kelly and Allen Craig in the John Lackey deal, or Yoenis Cespedes going the other way for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. Let’s think about the Mariners trading Nick Franklin from their surplus and the Tigers trading Drew Smyly and Austin Jackson from theirs (along with Willie Adames) in the David Price deal.

Let’s think of who the Jays could have offered that would have fit what those clubs were looking for: Boston getting big-hitting corner outfielders having down years (in MLB and with team control left), plus a back-end starter type; Tampa getting an infielder and a solid starter to help their big club right now, along with an 18-year-old shortstop who may now be the best player in their system. Could the Jays have weathered those kinds of hits to their big league roster the way that the Tigers and A’s and Cardinals can? Could they have even made the pieces fit given what other clubs were looking for?

I have a hard time believing it, so let’s think about some of the day’s other trades. Let’s think about the Orioles adding a very nice bullpen piece in Andrew Miller. Let’s think about Eduardo Rodriguez, who they gave up for him: a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher who has struggled a bit in Double-A, and didn’t make the mid-season Top 50 Prospects lists from Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, or Baseball America, but who was 43rd for Law in the pre-season, and in the top 65 then for both BA and BP. Let’s think about how the Jays have a 21-year-old lefty pitcher in Double-A who certainly would have beaten the Orioles’ offer. Would any of us have moved Dan Norris for 20-odd innings of a rental reliever? What about Sean Nolin? Would a high-80s-throwing lefty who’ll be 25 next opening day and who, albeit while struggling with injuries a bit, has walked nearly a batter every other inning this year in Triple-A (54.1 IP, 25 BB, 45 K) have even topped what the Red Sox got?

It’s not easy when the upper levels of your minor league system are thin and teams holding anything of value are looking less for lottery tickets and more for established young big leaguers with years of control left. The Jays have Brett Lawrie. They have Stroman and Sanchez and Hutchison. But what else? The assets they have that other teams value they really like themselves — they’re really relying on themselves — and as much as there are all kinds of external factors to impel the Jays into going for it hard, there are many reasons why it’s wholly understandable that they didn’t, as well. It’s the trade deadline, not the get something for nothing deadline.

Unless, of course, you’re the Yankees. And naturally this is where the picture of where the Jays are at becomes somewhat more upsetting. Buster Olney tweets to remind us that the “Yankees added Headley, McCarthy, Prado, Rogers and Drew and gave up one decent prospect in Pete O’Brien.” Those guys might all mostly be kinda shit, but that’s the rub. That’s where we run headlong into the shadowy evil whose hand lurks behind every single thing the club does — the behemoth corporation that fans get aghast at for acting like a behemoth corporation.

Granted, the Braves have corporate ownership and managed to pry open their wallets — without resorting to passing the hat around — to land Ervin Santana in the off-season, but for the most part that’s simply not how such owners operate. Shit, it’s not even how non-corporate owners tend to operate, either. Or even owners sitting on mountains of TV money. It’s not like the Dodgers did anything today, right? But that doesn’t make it not frustrating to see a company like Rogers backing a club in a massive market with massive TV dollars coming in via the massive reach of the parent company’s TV network — along with many millions from MLB itself — behaving like a small market team.

It’s the same old story, but this time with a twist: the Jays have a very healthy payroll — the tenth highest in baseball (and not only that, a recent Baseball America piece showed that the only team with a payroll as high or higher than the Jays’ over the last three seasons to have spent more on the draft is the St. Louis Cardinals).

As I’ve written before, one can understand where Rogers is coming from. It’s entirely possible they’ve given the front office a fair budget, and they don’t feel like they should have to make an exception and find more money for them. It surely takes a certain amount of tunnel vision to hold firm on a stance like that when it seems so clear to all of us there’s tangible benefit to be had — in TV ratings, in gate receipts, in potential playoff recepits and TV revenue — with just a small amount of additional investment relative to the current payroll. But that’s the way their world works. If we’re being honest, that’s the way most of our worlds work. Companies like Rogers don’t become what they are by being cavalier with assets any time some small branch of their many divisions wants a handout-after-a-handout because they’re so sure that this time they’re really going to be able to catch that dragon they’ve been chasing.

Now, “handout” may not be the correct term here. It’s not like the Blue Jays — or any MLB club — aren’t a tremendously valuable property deserving of a richer operating budget than we’ve seen them run for the majority of the years that Rogers has been in charge. Maybe even this year, too. Maybe they’ve been shortchanged every single year. Maybe all big league clubs are. It’s a sport that is awash with cash and it’s absurd that any of them ever cry poor. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that, and nothing Alex Anthopoulos can do about that except to operate within the framework he’s allowed to operate within. He can try to make the case to extend that framework, and I suspect he could make a damn good case if anyone who mattered was willing to listen — and perhaps that’s exactly what happened in the year before Nadir Mohamed retired and Guy Laurence took over — but that’s really about it. And the case he needs to make is to people who don’t necessarily know or care about baseball — that’s what Beeston and Anthopoulos are employed to do — and who in all likelihood only see the bottom line, the economic arguments, and have zero impetus to confer special status on one little branch of the massive company.

It sucks for baseball fans, but it makes sense in their world. It sucks for fans who see massive outlays of cash on NHL rights or on the Rogers co-owned Toronto FC, but it makes sense in their world.

Now, if Anthopoulos was afraid to manipulate payroll over the winter out of fear that he wouldn’t have the authorization to add back in whatever he was able to shed, maybe having played it the way he’s done is actually quite shrewd. If he could have dumped salary to increase flexibility and chose not to, then what’s happening with the club probably falls on him, though there was probably a baseball case to be made for doing it that way too. However, if ownership changed the deal they had with the club in mid-stream, that’s… well… that’s their prerogative. It’s just a shitty one, and not — I wouldn’t think — a particularly honest one.

But we have no idea how it really is. Payroll is certainly going to be capped somewhere and I suspect we’d be having this same conversation whether the number was $73-million and seemingly going nowhere, or $200-million and seemingly going nowhere. You’d hope the company would be a little more responsive, yes, but all the vitriol about it seems to me akin to fans yelling and screaming and demanding a shitty player not be a shitty player.

He’s a shitty player!

You don’t ever have to be satisfied with it — you certainly can and quite possibly should want more — but a little understanding goes a long way, and the thing about being resigned to your fate is… well… it’s your fate. Rogers gonna Rogers. They’re going to Rogers harder, and longer, and better than any of us could possibly even fucking comprehend Rogers-ing. It’s important (at least in the context of this trivial millionaires-playing-baseball thing) to point this out — important to not be too docile about it — and important, I think, to strive to raise the conversation above the level of all the ignorant and petty bickering and venting if our goal is to actually have a dialogue that creates anything — any thought or idea or solution — that has a prayer of leading someone with a voice with either Rogers or the club to see a path towards a more positive outcome for everybody from this thing than what we’ve been getting… assuming, that is, we want to be naive enough to think that’s even possible.

It’s probably not possible, though, and we probably ought to have better things to expend our mental energy on anyway — which, actually… maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to raise the discourse in the first place: because a word like “discourse” has little place among folks who just want to sink into the couch after a long day of work, lose themselves in a couple of beers, and not be frustrated as fuck by the mini-drama playing out in front of them on their TV screen.

And so here we are, all of us trying in our own futile ways to will the world into being something that it isn’t.

I’d suggest that maybe we’d have been better off being born Yankees fans, but that can’t possibly be right, either. Meaning: if it weren’t this, it’d be something else. And that’s kind of what makes it fun, though, too. I mean, do you actually want to be a Yankees fan? Is that really what you’re so upset that you’re not when Rogers doesn’t spend money? Because, shit, just go and be a fucking Yankees fan, then. If you refuse, though, maybe think about accepting yourself for who you are: you’re a Blue Jays fan, and your owner sucks, and it’s never gonna make a lick of goddamn sense, but the ride is still gonna be a fuckin’ gas and every once in a while, often entirely in spite of ourselves, we’re going to have some moments of pure joy that make it all worthwhile. Not necessarily World Series moments like other teams get, but… well… fuck the bastards, they ain’t us either.

I mean, is it sad that we’re getting hyped for August baseball like it’s Haley’s goddamned Comet and watching a team made probably-too-largely of cast-offs who are comfortable enough to call out ownership and management for doing shit-all at a crucial trade deadline and using the excuse that they can’t deplete their minor league system further because they already did that when they added a bunch of players two years ago (which was totally super necessary because they were too cheap to actually go out and spend money on players in the first place and save the prospects)? Fuckin’ eh it’s sad! It’s the awesomely saddest!

Six straight!

bautistahits

I’m working on a reaction piece to the non-waiver deadline passing here in this city with a whimper, so I’ll keep this brief, but I think it’s definitely noteworthy to pass along the fact that Jose Bautista didn’t need multiple hours of wordcraft (or whateverthefuck it is I’m doing) to let his thoughts about his club’s inactivity be known. And I think a lot of fans are going to be absolutely on his side here.

I am too, in fact. Even as in another browser window I’m trying my best to contextualize what happened and offer some perspective on the realities of the position the Jays were in here — as dumbly and short-sightedly placed in it (and not necessarily just by ownership) as they may be — and why it’s actually quite understandable and, once we let the frustrations rush beyond us, perhaps even good that things unfolded the way that they did.

No, really!

But you want catharsis? Jose has got your catharsis right here:

He’s not wrong, and I applaud his speaking his mind on the issue (as do his teammates, apparently, as a follow-up tweet from Barry says a player wishing to remain nameless says Jose speaks for them on this issue, and in another he adds that what they find upsetting is less about the inability to get an ace and more about Martin Prado, who cost the Yankees a positionless big-power no-walk Double-A player and, of course, the absorption of his contract).

Thing is, there’s just not a whole lot we can do about it. Shit, if he feels helpless here, what hope is there for us? It is what it is, but what’s also true is that there’s absolutely no reason the club can’t soldier through and keep on kicking ass to the playoffs. They might not, and some help sure would have been nice, but the cost would have been tough to bear, at least if you even somewhat try to understand how Rogers operates, why they operate that way, and how it’s naive to expect them to behave like a benevolent citizen-owner who wants nothing but for his team — his toy — to win. It’s just not as simple as shouting “DO SOMETHING!” or “PAY SOMEBODY!”

If only it were. If only it didn’t feel like in some cities it kinda is…

cespedes

This obviously isn’t directly related to the Jays, but here on the morning of the non-waiver trade deadline the landscape of the AL East shifted a bit with the Red Sox moving Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash to the Oakland A’s for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick.

The deal also changes the shape of the team currently in line to play the winner of the AL’s Wild Card play-in game, which the Jays would be in — visiting Anaheim — if the playoffs began today, thanks to their three game lead on the Mariners and Yankees.

The names changing here are big — it’s a genuine baseball trade — and it sure is intriguing for both sides. Lester is a bonafide stud that Oakland adds to a rotation that could be a force in the playoffs, while Gomes — like Lester, a free-agent-to-be — is a lefty-masher who should fit nicely with Oakland’s platoon scheming. The Sox get Cespedes, who is under contract for one more season, and who you’d think will benefit from the move to a more offence-friendly ballpark. They also move Lester to a place he’s not exactly likely to fall in love with over these two months, and a club that isn’t likely going to be able to extend him anyway.

So… yeah. With Lester now in the rotation of a possible playoff opponent, then potentially back in Boston next year, along with Cespedes, it’s not exactly a great trade for the Jays on the surface. But it’s not necessarily a slam dunk that Lester will return — by being traded he no longer will cost a club a draft pick to sign him, so the number of suitors he’ll have has certainly gone up — and just how magically great Cespedes will be with the Red Sox isn’t entirely clear.

Obviously the home run derby exploits demonstrate raw power that suggest the right-handed Cespedes will put a whole lot of dents in the Green Monster over the next fourteen months, but in a lot of ways his name has been bigger than his production since his rookie year. His walk rates have been below league average for the past two seasons, with his on-base hovering around just .300. The power has saved his wOBA and wRC+, which are up to .332 and 113 this year respectively, though. And he’s maybe been a little BABIP’d, posting consecutive years with BABIPs around .275. As we know, though, that’s not simply a measure of luck, and an underlying factor like his second-highest-in-MLB flyball rate might especially be creating more outs in a big park like Oakland’s than they will elsewhere. Interestingly, though, he’s posted worse HR/FB rates away from O.co over the last two seasons, and has been much worse at the plate in general — a 120 wRC+ at home and an 84 on the road last year, and this year a 123 mark in Oakland and 103 everywhere else.

What does it all mean? Mostly we’ll have to wait and see.

The A’s, by the way, have now also dealt Tommy Millone to the Twins for Sam Fuld. So maybe don’t go getting eyes for their surplus of starting pitchers just yet, by the way. Not that you’d want someone like Jason Hammel quite as much as you did a month ago anyway, given the 26 hits, 10 walks, and 18 earned runs he’s given up since coming to Oakland from Chicago.

The Jays are apparently looking for pitching, though, as we were hearing last night. This morning Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that they’re pursuing no position players whatsoever at this point, with their focus entirely on pitching. Meanwhile, at Sporstnet, Shi Davidi writes that the Jays seem to be focussing on a reliever, “if they do anything at all.”

Should it happen, he wrote last night that their aim is for someone with some team control left (as there is currently no clear successor for free-agent-to-be Casey Janssen), who can help them in the near-term as well, and be the kind of pitcher it was hoped that Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos would be for this club.

“While big-name relievers like Joaquin Benoit and Chad Qualls are floating around, a comparison to the type of arm they’re seeking is Addison Reed of Arizona Diamondbacks, a hard-throwing right-hander with two years of control remaining, although he apparently isn’t someone they’re after,” he explains. “They’ve also checked in on Neal Cotts of the Texas Rangers, but that may be nothing more than due diligence.”

Shi also makes a point of calling any of yesterday’s talk about the Jays potentially being in on Jon Lester “nonsense.” Not, y’know, that it matters much now.

So… there’s that.

griffeywhitesox

Still weird.

At 3:35 PM ET, the Jays send R.A. Dickey to the hill in Oakland to take on Bartolo Colon and the A’s in a battle of 78 combined years of pitching guile. Also: hugs. Which I bring up, of course, because at 4:00 PM ET, while the Jays and A’s are on the field, the trade deadline will pass– and no matter what Shi Davidi says, I still believe there’s a chance we’re in for some dugout hugs. It’s all about posturing, right? Right??? Something’s totally going to happen, right? Right???

Keep refreshing for updates and/or the sound of crickets! After the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Stand-Pat

Well that’s… what it is.

Uh… the title of this post, I mean, which comes from here:

Could it be merely a little bit of posturing from the front office, given the game of chicken supposedly being played at the moment between buyers and sellers over the prices on the relief market? I wouldn’t count it out. But I wouldn’t count out it being genuine… which would seem pretty pointless.

The main bullpen pieces are under control for next year, and even Adam Lind and Emilio Bonifacio can be kept beyond this year, so I wouldn’t cry if the club simply didn’t see the value in moving any of those guys. But is there honestly any reason why Darren Oliver and Rajai Davis, both free agents to-be, should be on this team come tomorrow? At the very least? Like… I understand the idea of holding to your values and not just helping a contender for the sake of it and taking back shit for the sake of it. But on the other hand… come on!

In the end though, whatever, I guess. You think it’s going to stop me from posting the Game And Trade Deadline Live Blog Threat post that I’ve got going in another tab? Fat chance!

kendrick

MLB.com’s San Diego reporter Corey Brock [note: tough gig] tweets that the Diamondbacks and Padres have consummated a deal that will send starter Ian Kennedy, who was coveted by the Angels, to San Diego in exchange for setup man Joe Thatcher, minor league reliever Matt Stites, and a draft pick [note: !?!!?] in compensation round B (i.e. the kind of draft picks that can be traded).

He really made this whole thing, which I rushed to crank out when the trade’s details were still emerging, pretty fucking useless, eh?

I still think Kendrick is a good idea, though. (Also: fuck it, here’s my spitballin’ anyway.)

. . .

Howie Kendrick of the Angels, we can all agree, would be a big upgrade on the detritus that has manned second base for the Jays for most of this year (with apologies to Maicer Izturis, who has had a pretty good last six weeks at the plate).

He’s also available, under contract for two years after this, and the Jays, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Jays are interested.

Read the rest of this entry »

oliverdarth

The Knobler again with his finger on the pulse, as he tweets the following about the Jays and the Tigers, which you totally already know if you’ve read the title of this post:

He notes that Tigers manager Jim Leyland helped get Brett Cecil onto the All-Star team (after which he’s been terrific, huh?), and Steve Delabar into the Final Vote, so maybe there’s some interest there that will provoke Jays fans into, once again, dreaming too high on the possible prospects coming back.

I mean… Nick Castallanos? For a reliever? Really? Even in a world where Zack Wheeler can be dealt for two months of Carlos Beltran, I just can’t accept that anyone believes this a realistic possibility.

Read the rest of this entry »