The Untouchables

With the Winter Meetings still a week away, we are officially in the baseball wilderness. Signings pop up here and there but mostly it is baseless speculation and wish fulfillment by writers and fans alike.

Bob Elliott attracted some attention this week when he wrote the Blue Jays are both “in” on Heath Bell and considering trading Colby Rasmus to the Royals. Amazingly, only one of these things is beyond the realm of possibility.

I have a friend — no, wait, a SOURCE! — who works for the Blue Jays. This source is tangentially connected to creating materials (collateral) for the upcoming season. The directive came from on high at 1 Blue Jays Way – there are only two “safe” names to use on Jays promotional materials this winter – Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero.

That’s it. Two guys. All the rest, Brett Lawrie included, are fair game.

Alex Anthopoulos and his cabal of scouts and evaluators are not in any position to hold many cows as sacred. Acquiring talent is their job and the talent they have is constantly in flux. It isn’t so much about selling high and buying low as it is about getting more and more better players, at all positions.

If moving out Colby Rasmus in favor of a high-end relief pitcher is a move they need to make, they will do it. If trading Brett Lawrie for a number one starter appears on their laps, they’ll take it.

The new CBA removes the net in some ways. The pipeline of talent into the Jays system just had its capacity reduced. They need to be even more nimble than before, always vigilante in search of the upgrades they desperately crave.

In some ways this is obvious and counter-intuitive. Of course they’ll trade anyone. Only a fool doesn’t pull the trigger when some other GM comes calling to overpay. It was a little bit shocking for me to hear this laid so bare. Only two names.

That said: would Vernon Wells’ name have appeared on this list this time last year? Consider this a more conservative approach to past years, when gigantic images of recently traded players featured prominently around the Rogers Centre.

No one is safe. Be on your guard at all times. Buy a new jersey at your peril! Alex Anthopoulos cares not for your feelings and gladly breaks hearts without a moment’s notice. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Comments (41)

  1. It makes me wonder if that in the final year of AA’s contract, would he trade himself to another team and send the Jays decent compensation? Only to re-sign with the jays at the end of the season.

  2. Do they make “Anthopoulos” jerseys?

  3. I’m a little surprised to see Bautista as an “untouchable”. If I had to take two guys to be untouchable (but still touchable) I would say Romero and Lawrie. I just don’t see how you can upgrade from Lawrie, a young and very talented player who has already proven his worth. Where Bautista is 31 and is coming off of a terrible second half to his season. Even Romero, I think he’s our best pitcher and if he played for a team like the Yankees he could have easily gotten 18 or more wins. But he shouldn’t be untouchable.

    • I do think marketing does play a role in this as the jays try to get back to the playoffs, but also fill all those empty seats again.

      In a couple years (or maybe only one) Lawrie may be that guy, but if you ask a random person on the street in Toronto today, chances are they have heard of Bautista, but not Lawrie (yet).

    • An .896 OPS is not terrible.

      • And that was simply after the AS break. He had a 1.068 OPS in July, a 1.023 OPS in August, and a .852 OPS in September.

        I don’t understand where people have come up with this notion that Bautista was “terrible” in the 2nd half, but it needs to stop.

    • Charles Barkley concurs with your assessment. An .896 OPS is indeed turrible.

    • Lawrie played 6 weeks. While he played very well, 6 weeks does not prove one’s worth.

      • I think that’s the jist of it. As we saw with Snider and Drabek, it’s risky to count on linear progression from young players even those named Brett Lawrie. Romero and Bautista may only be safe players in the sense that they are the two players who performed the best over the last two seasons and therefore can most reasonably be expected to continue to perform. All I read into this is that the Jays are taking a conservative approach when marketing individual players.

    • Bautista is an untouchable because he puts fans in the seats (not just here but away games too) and is a big deal even the States. That gets American viewers tuning in for games where they wouldn’t before. I was taking a flight from Las Vegas to Houston in the summer and on the flight they they were showing ESPN who did a 45 minute profile on the Bautista and the Blue Jays. That TV exposure is important for the organisation and especially the marketing money that comes back from broadcasts.

    • I would guess that bautista is only untouchable as far as not wanting every fucking story in the paper to be about trading him. As far as Lawrie goes, he could still easily fall back and end up in AAA next year.

  4. You son of a bitch. i was this close to buying a Lawrie jersey….DAMMIT!!

  5. I’m going to hedge (for my sake) and say Lawrie isn’t on THE LIST for fear he hits the wall and needs a little Vegas tune-up sometime in 2012.

  6. I too am surprised by those names. Romero, i see as more of a #2 than an ace (got a bit lucky last year). Having said that, his contract for a #2 is nails. And for Bautista? Yes he is the best player in baseball but he is 31. If the Braves offered Heyward, Teheran and Prado – AA would jump at that I think.

    • Oh god. Pray that they offer that!

      • Two guys that haven’t done a thing at the MLB level and a mediocre 2B for the most valuable player in baseball?

        It should take a lot more than that.

        • You’re kidding right? Have you forgotten Heyward’s rookie season? That was done at the major league level.

          Too hard on Teheran, who is one of the highest rated pitching prospects in baseball. Sure he hasn’t done anything yet, but he looks like he’ll be good when he hits the majors.

          I’ll agree with you that Prado is a mediocre 2B, which still would be an improvement over Hill’s performance last season.

    • Lost in Romero’s great couple of months in the second half is that his overall advanced metrics numbers for the year were actually down from 2010 …no matter what Pat Tabler says.

  7. Suddenly, I’m afraid.

  8. At what point does becoming a place where players come and go all the time and no one is safe damage any tie that fans have with the organization? And does it not, albeit marginally, make players somewhat distrustful of the org. – even if the org. is being up front about what it would do.

    I mean, I don’t disagree that everything has a price, but to say that only 2 guys on a 25 man roster are for sure to be here next year, not even the year after, doesn’t make me want to buy into anything long term nor does it make me think that this team feels it is near competing.

  9. I don’t think Lawrie is going anywhere, he’s available for the right price… but that’s awfully high for a premium young player like him.

  10. No one should be on the list.

  11. Not surprised to see Bautista on such a list–trading him would almost certainly be some sort of present-for-future swap.

    If AA does that, he might as well just tell the marketing department to get a big “2014!” banner to hang on the side of the Dome.

  12. Well, I hate when people use the word untouchable. I think it’s the case of being very hard to get value in return for Romero and Bautista, both of whom are on very team-friendly contracts for what, four more years? Someone would have to get very stupid to make one of them move.

  13. Since when do we have to start making a leap between marketing direction and the relative safety of players? It’s silly. Perhaps the Blue Jays brass just wants the marketing focus on players that can handle it.

  14. WHAT THE HELL!!even brett lawrie is fair game…I guarantee Bretts numbers will be as good as bautistas if not this year then in the very near future..Maybe AA needs a reality check…the line up now is as good as any in american league….its the pitching..well the bull pen that is..most blown saves last year…not something fucked up its someone..GO JAYS!!

    • So Brett Lawrie is going to become the best hitter in baseball by the age of 22?

      That’s quite the expectation.

  15. The bullpen wasn’t even so terrible … Sean Camp and Jon “Cock” Rauch were terrible. Francisco was half terrible.

  16. I just read the Elliott article. Even the thought that Jays might sign Heath Bell is horrifying to me.

  17. If I remember correctly, I think I remember getting a Blue Jays magnet schedule around this time last year which featured the “franchise players” – Jose Bautista, Shaun Marcum and Vernon Wells. And 2 of 3 of them were dealt before Opening Day.

    I guess that just goes to show you how quickly things can change … and that once you go to the printers, there’s no turning back!

  18. AA does not have an untouchable list, every player on his roster and in the system are available for the right price. You can always ask AA, he may counter or say no. But no one is really untouchable

    The reason for this is that most GM will pick the wrong prospect if you allow them to pick. If you hold back prospect A as an untouchable, most opposing GM will ask for prospect A instead. Making a lot of possible trade impossible, or simply just die in very early stage where a detour is always possible. AA is smart enough to not have an untouchable list.

  19. So I take it they won’t be taking Parkes’ suggestion to trade Jose Bautista this offseason. I hope that means they plan to win in 2012.

    • I don’t think Parkes suggested they trade Bautista, he just made a reasoned argument as to why it might make a helluva lot of sense.

      Glad you’re not still railing on that one though, FF.

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