Sunday, November 21, 2010

It won't be easy

Backed into a corner, I would tell you that I don't foresee Justin Upton, or Colby Rasmus, or Zack Greinke in a Blue Jays uniform next season. Deals involving premium young talent locked up with (mostly) reasonable contracts are the rarest of rare trades. And I say "backed into a corner", because with Anthopoulos & his recent comments concerning being unafraid of taking gambles, you just never know.

But here's the thing - in the unlikely event the Jays do pull off such a deal, I don't foresee myself immediately turning cartwheels in my (yes, my) basement at the acquisition of such game-changing talent. One, because I don't think I've ever actually turned a cartwheel, but two.... there will be game-changing talent going back.

It's fun to salivate over the prospect of Upton or a Rasmus patrolling the outfield for the Jays, but consider that DBacks and Cards fans are dreaming of Snider in the same scenario. Greinke would immediately (arguably?) become the Ace that contending clubs look to acquire, but Royals fans would, in turn, be pinning hopes of better days ahead on the right arm of Kyle Drabek. Because that's what it would take - talent doesn't come cheap. Forget about the prospect of packaging numerous middle of the road prospects for the potential superstar - quantity won't get it done. A potential superstar in return is the only way.

And we get attached to these players, don't we? We all think (hope?) Snider will, sooner rather than later, become the all-fields masher he's shown glimpses of & has always been projected to become. When Drabek became the centrepiece in return for Halladay, we all exclaimed he could never replace Doc, all the while dreaming that one day he would.

By no means am I implying that I hope the Jays stand pat. Anthopoulos undoubtedly has a targeted skill set for his offseason game plan, and will follow his mantra of rolling the dice as the only way to catch the division's big boys.

It just might be a little tough to swallow if he can actually pull it off.


GCM1979 said...

short, sweet and straight to the point. Great article.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

I agree completely. I want to see what Snider can do and the same with Drabek. There is a certain possessiveness when there is home grown talent and it's infinitely more fun watching them develop rather than losing them to purchase a proven/unproven star.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Zack Galifinakis in uniform would improve team chemistry.

Anonymous said...

Zack Galifinakis would definitely bring something to team chemistry...

Bret said...

I agree on Snider, but personally, I'd be fine with dealing Drabek for someone like Upton, providing that he's the only "big" piece in the deal. Snider would make me much more uncomfortable.

When Jon Morosi tweeted the other day that he "hears" that an Upton deal for the Jays would likely need to involve either Drabek or Hechavarria, my reaction was, "Really? They can have both of them." So maybe I'm just a bit higher on Upton.

Of course it will take talent to get talent. But in deals like that, you sort just have to put trust in your GM that he knows the talent he's giving up and truly thinks it's worthwhile.

We've talked for over a year now about all the Jays excess pitching, and how eventually they'll need something to do with it. To me, Upton is the player to go "all-in" with that pitching, if possible. Controllable AND superstar upside? He's the player Anthopoulos has been talking about acquiring since the day he became the GM.

Moonrakerocks said...

There's a lot of things on Upton that make one go hmmmm which also might explain why Arizona are looking to trade him...1st his strike out ratio is rising and now up to 31%. His GIDP number doubled from 10 to 20 this year. His number of stolen bases dropped to 18 and more importantly he was caught 8 times or 31%, significantly higher than previous years.He has committed 32 errors in 407 games and only got 12 assists-as an out fielder, certainly not the defensive gold glove player hyped to be.Actually for a corner outfielder that's pathetic defense...With baseball today's value his contract now looks expensive, particularly at the performance level.I think he's still a nice player but way over hyped and there's no way I'd deal Snider or a premier pitcher like Drabek for him.Frankly if he keeps showing deterioration like he did in 2010, I'd rather have Davis out there than him.

The 5th Starter said...

I agree with Bret,

Snider would be my only untouchable this offseason. I think he will be an absolute beast next year (.300/30+/100+ minimum if he stays healthy and gets 500 ABs)

I would also trade Drabek if the price is right. He's not really all that "home-grown," as he's only been around for 1 season. With the 5 other pitchers that the Jays just drafted, it would be easy to swallow for me personally.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Don't trade Snider. That's my only request. If that means Hechevarria and Drabek go the other way, I'll be fine with that. But I don't think that's enough.

Read an interesting article that perhaps Upton, while a great player, may already have peaked. I won't be upset if this is one deal Anthopoulos doesn't make.

Bret said...

I read that article too, Navin. It was a strong article, but I did think there were some holes in the author's logic. Though he's gathering data from a hundred years of baseball, there were, what, 8 players in the same category as Upton? Five of them produced at a lower level from ages 23-27 as they had at age 21, but that's still a very small sample size. And it did seem like the majority of those names went on to become Hall of Famers, or players that will get there one day, so it didn't exactly convince me otherwise. Still, definitely worth considering.

Bret said...

Rob Neyer sums up that article, and elaborates on the pros and cons of a player like Upton here:

It's a good read.

Andrew said...

I get the knocks against hoarding prospects, but I don't like the idea of trading cheap, young talent for one guy under control for only a few years, at least not in this case.

Upton's got a lot going for him. He's a great hitter, and he'd probably provide an offensive upgrade over whomever he replaces in the batting order. He's also 23 years of age, and under club control for another three seasons. However, the concerns about him are sound. He strikes out a lot, he's not a great outfielder, and he's not as good a base stealer in reality as he is in fantasy baseball.

Similarly, Zack Greinke is a premiere arm and only 27, under contract at a very reasonable $13.5M for each of the next two seasons, but he took a pretty big step back after winning the Cy Young in 2009. Also, he's never been a fan of the spotlight, so I'm not convinced that he would thrive in the perennial arms race that is the AL East the way he has pitching in the slap-hitting AL Central.

Even if those concerns aren't valid, neither player alone will give the Jays those extra 10 wins to make them playoff contenders. In addition to whatever trade working out, Bautista has to keep on raking, Lind and Hill need to bounce back, Wells needs to stay solid, Romero, Cecil and Morrow need to continue to progress as starters, the bullpen needs to pull itself together, and who's going catch, and play first? Arencibia and Lind are questions marks at best defensively.

If all of those things go right, then the Jays are a contender, but even then, how long is the window? Can the Jays afford to keep Bautista and whatever new superstar they decide to bring in? I doubt it.