There are few things in the world more soul-sucking for a writer than rote previews. Going team-by-team through the league and “breaking down” the chances and pitfalls always seems like a good idea but ends up taking years off your life.
Phil Rogers is the man in charge of this thankless task for the Chicago Tribune. Phil Rogers has plenty of things on his plate, I can only assume. The prospect of compiling some 900 words on the Toronto Blue Jays is a daunting one indeed. So Phil Rogers decided to play a little jazz. Phil Rogers turned his 2012 Jays season preview (slash power ranking) into a trip to the fortune teller.
And what does his crystal ball foretell? Joey Votto, Toronto Blue Jay.
It is hard to fault Rogers for focussing on an admittedly sexier narrative for the Jays than the “front office turns over roster completely, bilks his way into a fourth place finish with panache” truth of the matter. But the confidence with which Rogers asserts Votto to the Jays is a “sure thing” is puzzling.
Unless that pesky Mayan calendar is correct, and the Earth drifts into a black hole or is attacked by a higher species we never knew existed, Joey Votto will be with the Blue Jays in the very near future. When that inevitable acquisition is finalized, they will have the full attention of the American League for the first time since the early ’90s.
Awesome! Plan the parade! A few scant details stand between this dream scenario and the marketing department at One Blue Jays Way going into full time party mode:
- The Jays empty their coveted farm system for one of the best hitters in the game.
- The Jays and their “no contracts longer than five years” rule outbid 29 other teams for a sought-after player with numerous long term contracts under his nose.
Will Joey Votto see fewer years or dollars than Prince Fielder when Votto hits free agency at thirty years-old? Why would he? Sure, fewer home runs but they’re comparably talented players.
Comparably talented players tend to draw comparably sized paycheques when they hit free agency. Not to suggest it is a bad idea for the Jays to break the bank and their own free agency rules to get Votto. Blue Jays fans the world over hope it is the fait accompli Rogers’ suggests. The minor detail of some seven-odd years and no less than $165 million dollars is all that stands in the way. Minor details, really.
If “all roads lead to Votto” as Rogers suggests (in a BOOM! NAILED IT one sentence paragraph), the Joey Votto and Jose Bautista-led Toronto Blue Jays will indeed be in a good place. The Jays would move heaven and Earth to get a true hometown hero on their roster in the prime of his career. Wouldn’t they? That not-so-insignificant seed of doubt makes Joey Votto’s move to Toronto anything but a slam dunk.