Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baseball in November

Yesterday the Blue Jays made a huge trade with the Miami Marlins.

12 players.

Just about anybody making money with the Marlins is now a Blue Jay. A whack of prospects, our backup catcher, and our shortstop who wrote a gay slur in his eye black are heading to Florida.

Helluva trade.

I do love how the ESPN guy asked "Where did Toronto get all that money??" Once again displaying the invisibility of this team to the League at large. The Jays are owned by a multi-BILLION dollar telecom/media company that pulls in over $2Bil in profit annually.  They're probably one of the richest ownerships in the Majors, they just don't like spending on a team that pulls in 20,000 fans when the Yankees or Red Sox aren't in town.

Evidently, the lack of Leafs revenue this year has prompted them to look at their other teams. Yes, Rogers owns half the Leafs and Raptors too.

Miami fans are rightly pissed. Jays fans are generally happy, except that most Jays fans are clueless, so some of them don't actually recognize any of the names.  But the sports media will work to change that, since they actually know who Buerhle, Reyes, and Johnson are.

Local media is calling it the second biggest trade in Jays history. The biggest is known to any Jays fans - McGriff and Fernandez  for Carter and Alomar. But if the Jays can pull off a couple World Series wins and three divisional titles, then this one could beat it.

The big names are the scene stealers here obviously, but I'm more interested in John Buck.

Buck signed with the Marlins after his best year ever, with the Jays. Nobody's expecting 20 HR out of the guy this time around, but with Mathis going to the Marlins, Buck is a $6.5 million backup to J.P. Arencibia. Which seems... odd.

Arencibia is history. He's a top-tier catcher who isn't needed here. The fans love him, but Travis d'Arnaud is ready and is as can't-miss as prospects get. So you trade J.P. for a need (everyday left fielder? First baseman if you don't think Lind can handle it? Second base seems the most pressing), and let Buck mentor d'Arnaud in the majors for one season. Then Buck's gone, D'Arnaud is every-daying it, and you find your next cheap backup.

There was some talk of moving Arencibia to 1st, but that just seems unlikely.

But let's look at this team now.

Starting Pitching: Romero, Morrow, Beurhle, Johnson, Happ. That's one solid lineup assuming Ricky's surgery fixed what ailed him last season.  There's Kyle Drabek on the shelf after Tommy John surgery too, so that's a possible mid-season replacement if someone doesn't work out.

Bullpen: Middle relief is decent, and in many places solid. If Oliver decides to come back for one more season, he'll likely be the setup man to Casey Janssen, who OWNED the closer spot when it was thrust upon him last year. He was dominant, and Janssen has been Mr. Consistency for years now.

Infield: Reyes at short, Lawrie at 3rd are your key points. 2nd is unknown, I just don't see Mike McCoy there every day, 1st has Adam Lind, who everyone hopes can show the power he once did. At catcher is Buck, and as I said earlier, likely d'Arnaud. Some holes in the infield, but Arencibia should bring in some filler.

Outfield: Bautista will be back, Rasmus had a decent year in CF, and left is a bit of a question mark. Rajai Davis had spurts of brilliance, and is too fast not to play regularly. Anthony Gose was in RF during Bautista's absence but will likely be looked at in left, and his second time up with the Jays was stellar. Bonifacio could also find himself in the mix here.

So fielding-wise there might be a few weak spots, but the strong spots are pretty damned solid.

Hitting? Reyes is THE leadoff guy. Lawrie behind him, especially if Brett can learn how to run the bases with a bit of smarts. Then Bautista cranking them all home and Encarnacion batting cleanup to protect Bautista. That's one HELL of a top 4.

If they could find a way to have both Gose and Davis in the lineup regularly, you'd have unbelievable speed in your lineup. Sadly, that looks like it would only happen if one was brought in to run late in a game. Lind and Rasmus both have some pop, d'Arnaud was tearing up the minors before being injured last season. That leaves whoever they hell they get for 2nd base to round it out.

Now they just need that 2nd baseman and a manager.

Jays fans are talking today. The team went from an injury-plagued disaster of a promising season to on-paper contenders in one fell swoop. No hoping for the Yankees to falter, or Tampa to have a bad run. For the first time in a long time, the hype is more than hope.

As long as they stay healthy.


Memphis MOJO said...

They made out like a bandit. Congrats to the Jays.

Shrike said...

It's been long overdue for Rogers to invest in the team. This is the first time in a long while that I'm genuinely optimistic that the Blue Jays can take a serious run at the playoffs. I'm cautiously optimistic ...