Alex Speier of WEEI Sports Radio spoke with several baseball executives to gauge their reaction to the Red Sox latest additions, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  Here’s what Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos had to say:

Let’s see, they subtracted Martinez and Beltre, and they added Gonzalez and Crawford. The thing is, you have to look at the years that they had. Beltre had a great year. He hit .320, 30 home runs, and then, Martinez hit about 20 home runs.

Fangraphs numbers from last season suggest the following:

Crawford and Gonzalez: Total WAR = 12.2

Beltre and Martinez: Total WAR = 11.1

It’s actually closer than I thought, but as Anthopoulos says:

Hard to say because they both had very good years. They’re a different lineup because of Crawford and the speed that he brings. Certainly, Gonzalez is much more of a power threat and a left-handed bat.

If we look at the last three years, the numbers look like this:

Over 901 games, Crawford and Gonzalez: Total WAR = 30.7

Over 763 games, Beltre and Martinez: Total WAR = 22.6

For arguments sake, we’ll also include Martinez’s career year in 2007, to even the games played after he missed almost half of 2008.  That means that over 910 games, Beltre and Martinez have a 28.3 WAR.

That’s a 2.3 WAR difference, but in addition to better players, the Red Sox also get younger.  Let’s look at the difference in combined age:

Crawford and Gonzalez: 21,160 days

Beltre and Martinez: 23,243 days

This translates into almost a combined 6 year difference between the literally new and old players.

I think they’re an improved club strictly from a health standpoint. Health alone, if they had just kept the same team, I felt that team kept intact was a 100-win team. You can argue that the loss of Martinez, Beltre, whether that’s an upgrade or it’s the same or close. We’re talking about four great players. It can be debated. Martinez and Beltre are great players, and now you’ve got Crawford and Gonzalez. With Ellsbury, Pedroia, Beckett’s going to be better, Lackey’s going to be better. To me, they’re an improved club just because of that.

While Anthopoulos may underestimate the difference that Boston’s new additions make, he is right to acknowledge how much better the team will be with full seasons from Ellsbury and Pedroia.

In 2009, Ellsbury and Pedroia combined: 307 games, 7.3 WAR.

In 2010, Ellsbury and Pedroia combined: 93 games, 3.1 WAR.

There can be little doubt as to whether or not we’ll see an improved Boston Red Sox team this coming season, but what does that mean for Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays?

If the rumours are at all accurate, and the Jays are in pursuit of Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke, does Toronto change course now that the obstacles in their division have gotten this much more difficult to overcome?

Or do the Red Sox acquisitions change the Jays course in the opposite direction?  Instead of moving toward acquiring Greinke, do the Jays find it easier to justify shopping Jose Bautista before their final year of control has expired?

Ultimately, Anthopoulos is unwavering in his drive to put together not just a team that can compete in the AL East, but an entire system that brings the organization to:

The point where we have potential All-Stars at every position on the diamond. In our minds, [in] the five-man rotation we need the caliber of a No. 3 starter or above in all five spots. So trying to fill that quality and that high ceiling is the challenge. The ultimate challenge is getting all of those guys to come together and control them at the same time, and that’s what it takes.