Sunday, October 17, 2010

How far?

With regards to the Toronto Blue Jays and where they stand heading into the offseason, we know the following:

* The Jays, under the direction of Alex Anthopoulos, made great strides in 2010 toward building their status as legitimate contenders in the brutal AL East, where one could reasonably assume the club is now potentially only a few seasons away.

* Anthopoulos has stated he will be aggressive in pursuing trades this winter, and is unafraid of trading coveted prospects for sure-fire major league ballplayers give the proper circumstances.

* The Jays are deep at a position coveted by every franchise - young starting pitching - both at the major league level and within the system.

* The major league "trading circuit" is shaping up to be intense this winter, with speculation surrounding players such as Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, and Colby Rasmus (to name a few).

Well then, given the above facts, it doesn't take much of a mathematician to put 2 and 2 together in deducing that the Jays could become involved in some pretty high-profile trade talks. The difficult question: should they?

Focusing on the above sampling of names, some are easy to dismiss, but some just might make some sense. In the case of mighty Prince, he does fit the Jays positional need at first base, the spot sure to be abandoned by Lyle Overbay (right?....), but there are just too many checks under the "avoid" column to seriously consider - at least for me. A Boras client with a year to go before free agency, sure to demand Ryan Howard-plus money. That's an albatross-potential contract, and ol' Princey just doesn't seem to fit the profile of athletic, multi-tooled athletes (not to mention cost-controlled) that the Jays front office prefers towards building a consistent contender.

But the other 2 names? Consider me varying degrees of intrigued.

Zack Greinke is a (soon to be) 27 year old pitcher with a Cy Young Award already under his belt, 2 years remaining on a reasonable contract, and the potential to be that undisputed "ace" contending clubs all clamor to acquire.

(though, I personally would argue that a deep, talented staff should always take precedence over one "name" guy, but I digress....)

The Kansas City Royals are also said to be willing to listen in on offers for his services this winter. So what would it take? A Halladay-lite package, perhaps, so start with Kyle Drabek and add pieces from there.

In the case of Rasmus, it seems hard to fathom that the St. Louis Cardinals would consider moving the emerging star, but given the very public dust-up with manager Tony LaRussa last season & LaRussa's near certain return, it might be something the Cards consider. He would also require a king's ransom to move.... but we're talking about a player ready to make an impact now, controllable for the foreseeable future. Again, start with Drabek as a necessary trade-chip.

Both players come with questions. Greinke has always had indisputably dominant "stuff", but only one superstar calibre season. Rasmus has always been labeled a future star, but whispers about his makeup and a less-than-impressed clubhouse following this season's LaRussa "incident" have to at least raise some eyebrows.

So should the Jays get involved? With these or any other players of this calibre who may hit the market? It would be hypocritical of me to bemoan the trading of prospects for established major league stars, given my past rails against the hoarding of prospect porn. Moving the likes of Kyle Drabek and/or Zach Stewart would hurt, but would be offset by the immediately-assisting talent coming back (AA ain't no fool).

Where would I draw the line? For me, that conversation probably begins and ends with Travis Snider. Because he is still going to be a fucking monster.

At the end of the day, this post is all about good times and meaningless speculation - of that I am keenly aware. But until the Jays make the playoffs, what else am I supposed to write about in October? Hotstove, baby!


SP said...

I'm willing to give up Drabek. AA himself said there is little difference between KD and Stewart, and other rankings agree. Unlike Stewart, KD has way more hype so it's the perfect time to capitalize on that. The other option is trading Marcum. It's the perfect time to trade him coming off his best season and he has added value due to his service time. What makes trading him hard is that he's grown on all of us, including the other pitchers. That lovable, Roy-bashing bastard might have just bought himself an extension in TO.

plain_g said...

marcum is the guy these young pitchers look to. i wouldn't move him for that reason alone.

Tools Of Ignorance said...

Drabek's trade value will likely never be higher, and will allow any trade partner to get a "name" prospect in return. I have no problem letting him set sail for the right piece.

The only question with Fielder is whether we expect (half-expect?) to make a showing next year as a playoff-caliber team. We've seen what happens when a team drastically overachieves and fools themselves into thinking that they're a piece or two away ('09 M's, '03 Royals). Not everything was golden this year - think Lind & Hill - but the health of the starting staff seemed to defy the odds with their health.

Fielder could rake in our stadium (I just can't call it a ballPARK, I just can't). He'd likely be a high-ranking Type A when he walks, or could be trade bait should a 40-60 start manifest, though any trade piece with a "Must Sell By" sticker attached is sold at a discount. For triviality's sake, he's got a Saberhagenesque thing going on, and it's an odd-numbered year.

Ah, trade speculation. Sometimes more fun than the game itself.

The 5th Starter said...

Couldn't agree more re: Fielder. A body like that never ages well...

Rasmus is at the very top of my wish list. He's under control for 4 more years, and he has Snider-like potential. STL is in win-now mode though, so he would require a piece from the MLB team, rather than prospects (i.e. Marcum, Hill, etc.)

Greinke could be had with just prospects, as it's widely believed that their window for contention is 3-5 years anyway. KC may want even less advanced prospects than KD...

Darren Priest said...

Great work this weekend, Ack. I can't wait for the hot stove season to start in earnest. Very intrigued by what AA might do.

Steve G. said...

I'd give up Drabek plus a B-level prospect for any of those guys, since I wouldn't consider that much of a thing to give up. Then again, as you've documented, I view Drabek as more of what the Blue Jays already have (average starting pitching) vs. a #1 or #2 starter.

Of the three, Fielder has the least amount of value to me, given the concerns about his body type and agent. You could trade for him, have him mash 50 HR and then lose him to a (stupid) team willing to pay him $25 million a year as he hits his decline phase. (I'm looking in your direction, Brian Sabean.)

After him, I'd favor Greinke over Rasmus, just because it seems like the Jays have more options in the outfield, and Greinke would give them a Top 10 pitcher. I view Greinke as an elite-level talent, whereas Rasmus is more of a really nice, sometimes an All-Star level guy, like J.D. Drew or Nick Markakis.

brent said...

I think you guys are looking at this wrong. GM AA is looking at 2015 not 2011. It will be more likely who are we moving Bautista for? What can we get for Marcum or maybe Morrow?

Drew said...

Two things on the guys you mentioned: 2009 was Grienke's career year, but he wasn't much worse in 2010 or 2008.

As for Colby Rasmus: anyone who feuds with TLR is a friend of mine.

Peter D said...

The one thing that concerns me about Greinke is his personality disorder, that being said I wouldn't have an issue giving up Drabek for him.

Of the guys mentioned I like Rasmus the best given that he's controllable for another 4 years. Also, don't the Cardinals have interest in Aaron Hill? I thought I read that somewhere? The Jays should look into doing a deal around Hill for Rasmus.

mathesond said...

Drabek + for Rasmus
Arencibia + for Greinke

mathesond said...

...and yeah, I know Arencibia (or Arencibia + Gose) won't net Greinke. The Jays'd likely have to deal Snider to even have a shot.

Or Marty Janzen

The Ack said...

@Drew.... that was simply my shallow attempt at building a "case against" - especially with Rasmus. Cards would be foolish to deal him.

Really, both are boner-inducing names, so long as discussions don't include you-know-who.

.... and I see Buster Olney spells out the Jays as one of the teams who he presumes would NOT be "in" on Greinke, calling it another Halladay situation in the making. Couldn't disagree more. Completely different situation.

Peter D said...

You'd probably have to throw in Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon along with Janzen to get a stud pitcher.

Sticking with my sell high principle, these are the guys that are probably worth trading as they fall into the category that their value may be worth more than the actual future production:
- Jose Bautista
- Aaron Cibia
- Kyle Drabek
- Ricky Romero
- Brett Cecil
- Shawn Marcum
- Mark Rledzeppelinski

The Ack said...

Oh, Peter D.....

You want to move the entire rotation (less Morrow)? I understand what you're saying - in theory - but ballplayers aren't stocks and a roster isn't an investment protfolio. You can't just go dealing away any player who performs well for fear they can't (or won't) repeat.

But we've been through this convo before, and I don't expect either of us to change opinion.

Agree to disagree.

Peter D said...


I think I may have not explained myself very well, in no way am I suggesting that they should move all of those players. I am only identifying the guys I believe are potential sell high candidates. That the Jays will get more value for one of them in relation to their ceiling than someone like Adam Lind or Travis Snider.

Now if some team comes along and offers a good deal for Aaron Hill, I'm not suggesting that they don't do it because he's coming off a bad year, just that it's less likely to happen because of his season.

Anonymous said...

Arencibia and Stewart for Greinke.

Drabek and Hill for Rasmus.

Dex said...

Why not just open the purse strings and sign Lee? Then they could move on Greinke with a Drabek + Aaron Cibia offer and try to flip Jose and Marcum or Cecil for Rasmus and a prospect arm... I know its all crazy talk, I can't see them spending the money for Lee but its fun to dream.

Tao of Stieb said...

To paraphrase my friend the Ack:

Cliff Lee is not walking through that door.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Lee and Greinke is Lee is turning 32 and Greinke is 27. Assuming minimum 5 year deal for Lee how many 37 year old remains elite? I'm much more comfortable throwing money at Greinke.

Also, Greinke is actually a good fit for the city of Toronto because it is more of a low key baseball environment that he prefers. I read somewhere that Greinke can block all trades to the Red Sox and Yankees probably because he doesn't want to deal with the things that comes with playing in those cities.

Anonymous said...

If the Jays are going for a left handed 1st baseman with one year left on his contract in the NL, I'd rather they go after Adrian Gonzalez. A little less power, but way better defensively and on the base paths.

Padres probably won't be able to sign him, so they could be motivated to move him.

They'd definitely want Snider though.

peteypuck said...

Greinke had 1 big year and would be gone in another 2. Double AA has an appetite for giving up talent only for young guys that he can control for more than 2 seasons. And he's right. They don't need him for the top of the rotation. Alex is in high cotton with controllable arms just as good and a couple who will be better. Why trade multi high end piching talent for one arm of the same?

I did some checking on Rasmus after reading Keith Law rave about the guy. He's a definite 5 tool guy, older than Snider, who's best HR year was 26. He'll probably qualify for the Dave Kingman Strikeout Crown every year. Which is probably why Larussa hates him. which is why he is on the block. Which is why I stay away from him.
He does have the cannon for right even if they have a spot open. which they don't. He also comes across as a flake, think about Alex Rios without the toy helicopter. All tools no brains, no thanks. He will cost a ton, start with Drabek and at least one more top end prospect.

And where do you play him? No way Jose the Cannon is coming outta right, he cuts down too many potential runs. To quote Aaron Hill, "he's a game changer out there."

Snider is playing every day in left. Period. End of story.

For varied reasons the centre field spot is locked up for at least a couple of more years. With Vernon doing what he did being healthy last year, I'm more than happy thank you very much. The guy isn't flashy but he was back to being a beast at the plate. Above decent in the field. And let's not forget the kid Gose and a couple of others who will be gunning for that spot a couple of seasons down the road. So, why give up any high end controllable talent for a flakey if talented POTENTIAL high end outfielder that you don't need?

This team needs only 3 things to become a serious monster.

One, make sure Adam Lind is ready to start at first come opening day. He just needs to make the gimme plays, scoop the low throws, hold the runner, blah blah blah. The guy played there for years as an amateur. It's the one position that you could teach a chimp to play.

Two, move Hill to 3rd, then sign a great 2nd base glove. I'm thinking Orlando Hudson. He's available. I read that he can still pick it better than anybody else out there. Toronto loves O Dog and O Dog loves Toronto, epecially with J P "the pimp" gone.

An outlier, maybe leading off would make Hill more reponsible about getting on base and less homer happy. Or try Escobar. Or bring Fred Lewis back as DH/Leadoff. Whatever. Don't let Lewis near an outfielder's glove, he wouldn't recognize one anyway. If no Lewis, go hire an all hit no glove DH, tons of guys out there who can still rake if do nothing else.

Three, find out real quick if Purcey or that fireballer Roenicke is ready to step up and close. Extend Gregg anyway. Consider Buchholz. Pick over other teams discards, like they did for Gregg.

Consider that if 2 of Drabek and Stewart and Zep are ready, reconvert Cecil into the stellar closer he was when they drafted him. He has had trouble getting his innings up for 2 seasons now, some guys just don't have the arm to start long term. The guy's got 3 pitches above average now that he's found a whipeout change to go with his wipeout curve and sneaky sinker. He'd be a monster, my opinion only. I think that's the job he wants anyway, reading between the lines when he was quoted about his arm fatigue issues. Who really knows? With The Cito, his arm coulda been stuck back on with crazy glue, The Cito woulda kept running him out there anyway.