Well, that was that. MLB's 2010 non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone and I'm still trying to process how I feel about what happened with the Jays.....and I'm quite certain I'm not the only one in this boat. I was conservative with my own expectations, thinking one, maybe two bullpen arms (Downs, Gregg, Frasor) would be on the move, with an outside shot at a position player being dealt (Bautista, Buck, Overbay).
So what happened? Apart from "nothing", I mean. Are the Jays better off having left the roster intact? Or does the lack of movement rate as an opportunity missed? I'm going to be honest with you here, friends. I still don't know.
I'm still firmly of the belief that Anthopoulos' strategy of targeting high-end, "game-changer" talent is the only way to build towards a long-term competitive club. The new regime will not deal for the sake of dealing, hording fringey prospects in the hope one might beat the odds and develop into a plus-regular at the major league level. And evidently, based on the fact that no deals were made, those were the types of players being offered. Hey Cashman - thanks for the call-back, but it's a top-10 guy or nothin'. Same for you, Theo. No favours for that little Nation of yours.
Opposing clubs are still, apparently, of the belief the Jays should act as a feeder club for the big-boy organizations, and just be happy they're taking portions of contract monies owed off their hands in exchange for warm bodies. By not budging and rolling the dice on expected compensation picks (and backing it up with spending on said draft - see 2010), this new Jays management regime is serving notice that their hands most definitely are not tied, and status quo no longer exists.
And hey - do we even have the right to complain that the team will remain competitive to close out the season by holding onto the major league talent? It's going to be a bad thing to watch Jose Bautista chase the home run title? You want to be stressed out watching Jesse Carlson pitch the 8th instead of Scott Downs? This has been an entertaining club this season, and figures to remain as such for the duration.
.....but I can't shake the following feeling: the Jays were motivated sellers, with assets in demand and eminently movable...and nothing got done. I do take comfort in the knowledge that players not traded will, in all likelihood, be rolled into compensation picks, during a draft year which talent evaluators promise has a deep, talented pool of players.
But that's also the catch - those compensatory picks won't produce major league players for two, three, maybe four seasons. That's if they develop into major leaguers at all. Dealing for prospects eliminates some of that doubt, and reduces the wait for expected MLB arrival.
Has the timeline for competitiveness been pushed back? Anthopoulos claims it hasn't, but coupled with the Wallace-Gose trade....it certainly hasn't been advanced. And regarding those comp picks....are we sure about those?
Scott Downs seems fairly certain to decline arbitration (doesn't he?), but, oddly enough, Jason Frasor continuing to pitch well and maintaining his type-A status might be the worst thing that could happen to the organization. Frasor might want to have a little chat with Juan Cruz about that whole arbitration decision. Bit of a pickle for Jays fans with this one. "Pitch well, Sausage King! Whoa whoa whoa! Not that well!"
And what of development? How does JP Arencibia see any meaningful at-bats down the stretch with All-Star John Buck holding it down? Or is he the org's next Brett Wallace? And with Lyle Overbay remaining the everyday first baseman - gotta give the guy a chance to earn another contract, right? - how does Adam Lind get comfortable at the position he's now expected to start at in 2011? Again, these are all difficult questions to answer, since as fans, we should want to see the best players play everyday.....but at what cost?
I still have confidence that Anthopoulos is building a winner. I know, long-term, he has a vision for the club and will work tirelessly towards building that winner. There's a part of me that thinks just maaaaybe he had a few too many balls in the air today, and they all came crashing down at 4 PM EST. But if the right deals weren't there, they just weren't there.
Seems simple enough, but I still can't quite figure it all out.