Nowadays, any indication of a trade or free-agent signing is near impossible to keep under wraps. Whether it is a higher-up leaking information, “reports” on Twitter, or the kid running the concession stand who eavesdropped on top-secret intel; chances are the masses will hear about any transaction well before it transpires.
Enter Toronto Blue Jays‘ GM, Alex Anthopoulos. One who operates with thief-in-the-night type tactics; known for holding his cards close to the vest, and striking when you least expect it.
The baseball world was caught off guard once again a week ago, with the blindsiding acquisition of now-former Oakland Athletics‘ third baseman Josh Donaldson. With a WAR rating of 7.4, second in command among all position players, next to the big fish himself, Mike Trout, add another stealth-like maneuver to Anthopoulos’ portfolio.
However, Double-A’s six-year reign as puppet-master has not exactly induced spotless case-files. Most notably, the R.A. Dickey leap-of-faith swap with the New York Mets. Granted, Dickey still has time to salvage his inconsistent ways, but the elephant in the room suggests Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud are on the verge of becoming rock-solid battery mates.
Who am I kidding, optimistic much?
I can picture it now: A Saturday afternoon in the middle of July, and Rogers Centre has a season-high attendance of just over 26,000. Syndergaard spins a two-hit shutout, d’Arnaud extends his hit streak to a league-leading 21 games — did I mention it was R.A. Dickey bobblehead day?
It is a shame, but citizens of Toronto have become well acquainted with the pessimistic angle. On the contrary, has Anthopoulos made amends with his recent flurry of activity this offseason? — Better yet, has he “Totally redeemed” himself!
Russell Martin and Donaldson represent upgrades at their respective positions, not to mention delivering a message that upper management is once again attempting to go all-in — a possible showcase to remaining free agents to help lure them north of the border.
Still, there is plenty left to accomplish. Let’s run down the to-do list:
- Add a frontline Starting Pitcher.
- Bolster the Bullpen.
- Re-sign Melky Cabrera.
- Fill the gaping black-hole at second base.
- Withhold the temptation to include your top prospects in any trade discussion.
The faithful must downgrade their expectations. James Shields or Francisco Liriano could be just what the doctor ordered. The money saved by rescinding the pursuit of Cabrera opens up real opportunities here. Marco Estrada and his MLB-leading 29 home runs allowed arriving in a hitter’s paradise simply cannot be the only card played.
A former strength now exists as a vulnerability. Looking at you, Bullpen. With Andrew Miller now off the table, the slim-pickings remaining all of a sudden carry more weight. Dollar-signs point to Sergio Romo and Rafael Soriano being passed on. The idea of bringing back Casey Janssen is an attractive one at this juncture.
One has to harken back to the days of Aaron Hill when the second base position held any real impact. Gordon Beckham, Alberto Callaspo, and Asdrubal Cabrera are three names simmering on the Hot Stove. Not the splash Jays’ supporters want penciled into the lineup everyday, nevertheless this trio represents the dwindling propositions out there. Recently acquired prospect, Devon Travis, at the very least offers hope.
Time will tell whether his .298 BA, .358 OBP, .817 OPS, and 16 SB for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2014 will translate, but the arrow is pointing north.
Billy Beane must have attempted every trick in the book to pry one of the Blue Jays’ big-three away in the Donaldson negotiation. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Daniel Norris are future anchors of the staff — proceed with caution at the winter meetings.
Toronto has unquestionably thrown its hat in the ring, setting up shop (on paper at least) to regain a stranglehold on the division. What is blocking a possible postseason berth? Well, there is a reason aiding the starting rotation sits atop the list.
If you are going all-in, then walk the walk. Affordable additions remain on the free-agent shelf. 20 years of futility has this city agreeing with your 2015 philosophy (so far). A perfect storm is attainable.
There is no telling where or when Anthopoulos will attack next. Shopping Dickey to the highest bidder? Stay tuned. I am off to the concession stand to investigate further.