Monday, December 6, 2010

The dominoes begin to fall

Personally, we blame the Ack.

There we were, totally ready to settle in for a snoozy offseason, with nothing but marginal moves and the odd pickup of a guy on a short deal for little money. It wasn't going to upset nobody's apple cart.

And then our Weekend Editor (who will - to his surprise - be taking the reins around here for much of the holiday season) goes and starts writing about dominoes and splashy moves and goddamnit! Say goodbye to Shaun Marcum. We halfway considered going into the Ack's post from the weekend and switching out any mentions of "Travis Snider" for "Eric Thames" and "Kyle Drabek" for "Brad Mills", just to see if we could avoid any further stress and strain.

(Yes...in our mind, this offseason is like an episode of the Twilight Zone where whatever The Ack thinks comes true. So be prepared to make the trek westward to see the Winnipeg Blue Jays starting next year. On the plus side, they'll be in the Central Division! Playoffs!!!1)

Okay, enough of the tomfoolery. A few quick thoughts:

The Marcum Trade
There are some who figure that the Marcum trade is just the start of the moves, and that the Zack Greinke acquisition is sure to follow. The longer we had to think about it, the more that we figured that someone might have grabbed their Jump to Conclusions mat and started hoping around like a mad man.

So setting aside what comes next: We'll give our blog bro hug to Marcum later this week, and we're sad to see him go, but he seemed like the most obvious piece to move. He'll be 29 this year, and likely has a few good seasons left in that arm. But the Jays were getting close to a point where they would have to commit to him, and it was better to move him early rather than late.

Also: We were totally wrong about Marcum's delivery, which we use to think was easy and effortless. But now we look at that pronation, and it kinda scares us. So we can live with that being another team's problem.

As for who's coming back: We're all probably a little too invested in Bret Lawrie as Canadian baseball fans. Strip the maple leaf off his chest, and tell us that the Jays just acquired a guy who has been moved from position to position, hit eight homers last season and posted an OPS below .800 at Double-A, and refused to report to the Arizona Fall League, and we probably would have spent most of the day scratching our heads over this. It would have made the Anthony Gose deal seem obvious.

Still, Lawrie is well-regarded by at least a few scouts out there. We hope. And he's only 21. So there's time for him to pull his stuff together.

(Also, one report noted that the Jays may have been after Mat Gamel, which made us wonder who we'd prefer. We'd lean towards Gamel at this point, with the notion that he'd be ready to take over at third immediately. But we're open to being proved wrong.)

BREAKING! Pat Gillick in the Hall of Fame!
This is not unexpected, but is still great news nonetheless. A trifecta of Gillick, Robbie Alomar and Tom Cheek would make for a hell of a Canadian contingest at Cooperstown this year. But again, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

One thought on Gillick, which we've stated here before, but which bears repeating: There was a time where he was in the sights of the Canadian sports media, who tore into him for not doing enough to put the Jays over the top. "Stand Pat" they called, and they were pretty much ready to run him out of town in 1988.

So to the GMs of Toronto franchises, we offer this bit of solace: It gets better.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

how do you trade marcum for basically the same player you trade wallace for?

Peter D said...

Some thoughts:

1) Jays sold High on Marcum, they are listening to my rants :)
2) As for Matt Gamel, I think he's an nice buy low opportunity, but like Lawrie he's a man without a position as well. Not many expect he will stay at 3B.
3) You are getting ahead of yourself a bit, Lawrie is not quite 21 yet.

Tao of Stieb said...

Lawrie will be 21 next year. Stop being a stickler.

Okay, go ahead. Be a stickler.

Anonymous said...

how did the jays "sell high"? shouldn't a proven well above average mlb starter with 2 years still under control get you at least a proven mlb player back? or multiple prospects? not just 1 guy who hasn't even "dominated" in aa?

Anonymous said...

AA obviously likes Lawrie and you have to give something to get something. With the way Cecil and Morrow came on this year, Marcum was probably our no. 4, who for the moment becomes Drabek. I don't see a lot of disruption there.

The Brewers fans commenting on the deal on the blog are not altogether happy.

Dan said...

I really don't think the Jays are after Greinke. If you look at how AA has operated, most trades come out of the blue and are a surprise to everyone. With the depth the Jays have in their minor league system, it's no wonder that any baseball reporters will link them to any potential trades.


Heck for all we know, AA could be near a deal for an ace no one knew was available! Work your magic Alex!


Is it wrong to wish the Jays somehow pry King Felix from Seatle even though he just signed a 5 year extension last winter?

Anonymous said...

if the brewers fall out of it next season and trade marcum for a haul at the deadline this is going to look stupid beyond belief. lawrie may never make it to the major leagues, does he really have more upside than wallace did? now he's going to go to vegas and even if he has a great season it'll be "it's only the pcl".

Tao of Stieb said...

Let's not underestimate what Toronto got for Marcum. They sent Marcum and got back a team's putative number 1 prospect. That's not bad.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

It's hard to lose Marcum as he was great in 2010. But he did not fare well against the Red Sox, Yankees and Bay Rays and you have to win in your own division. Lawrie is a great prospect (bonus: Canadian) who, if he can get his act together, can be terrific for the Blue Jays. Only 8 homers but 36 doubles and double-digit triples to go along with 30 stolen bases.

Anonymous said...

that will help them compete for the coveted "Baseball America best Minor League Organization" trophy, but what does lawrie do for the team next season or even likely 2 seasons from now. he might turn out to be fantastic 5 years from now, it took kent what till he was 27? but that's an awful long time to wait when they should have been able to turn marcum into something really useful now.

Tao of Stieb said...

Seriously: Let's not set Lawrie's time table for 2017 just because Jeff Kent took a while to develop.

Lawrie should be an everyday MLBer by 2012. Jays have enough to get them through next year without him.

Anonymous said...

2012? that's a hell of a projection. snider still isn't an everyday player, and he raked like a mf'r at every level.

The Ack said...

Log into the ol' site and see I've become persona non-grata. What the hell, art may as well imitate life.

Really though, I've been expecting one of Marcum/Cecil to be moved for some time now....and quite frankly, thought it would be Cecil (& probably would have preferred, if backed into a corner).

Was the return enough? Yeah, probably. Does it push back "the timetable"? I think we need to withold judgement on that one. I just don't see this as a "stand alone" type of transaction.

Loathe as I'd be to see Snider traded - I'd deem him as "untouchable" as anyone on the roster/in the system - the Halladay trade has prepared me for anything. And I hear that Greinke can pitch a little.

Anonymous said...

if this trade somehow leads to the jays getting greinke without things getting too painful then great i guess. i just don't see how greinke is necessarily going to be any better than marcum over the next 2 seasons, he wasn't very good last year.

mike in boston said...

trading Marcum for a prospect makes sense if you see yourself two years (or more) away from competing. Marcum would have contributed well to the team's chances of winning during his two remaining controllable years.

if that's the case then it's a little disappointing to the fan base that saw 85 wins and thought the team would look to improve on that in 2011. if there is no other shoe to drop this off season then it looks like the team is still rebuilding.

Anonymous said...

trading marcum for more/better prospects makes sense. trading marcum for this 1 prospect makes no sense. just hold onto him until the trade deadline and then get something really good probably.

Anonymous said...

Is AA falling into the trap of constantly trading for the future? I knew Marcum was trade bait but I was hoping we'd get a ML ready position player to fill one of our holes. Or like people have said, get a couple prospects back.

I guess minor league production isn't the end all but guys like Gose and Lawrie who scouts may like but haven't produced, scare the crap out of me, especially when we give up ML ready guys for them alone.

Maybe I'm just getting jumpy.

The Ack said...

Couple more thoughts:

(a) I think folks are underestimating the value as a prospect Brett Lawrie holds. Like Tao pointed out, he was among the youngest players in AA, and OPS'd near .800. Defense questions are concerning, though.

(b) I think folks are really underestimating the ability of Greinke to say that he wouldn't be much of an upgrade over Marcum, much as I love the guy.

(c) ....let's just see how the rest of the week (or offseason) plays out before rushing to judgment on this one & what it means for 2011.

Ty said...

Remember, this is the guy the Jays wanted to draft in 2008 but the Brewers took him just ahead 16th overall (Jays had the 17th pick). Alex was the scouting director (or something) at the time - presumably, he knows a lot about this guy; I'll trust his judgement on this one.

Peter D said...

Some thoughts:

1) In response to "How did the Jays sell high". I believe Marcum has more value right now than he ever would have, had the Jays kept him. Partially because the closer he gets to becoming a free agent the more he's deemed a rental player, the risk of further injury, and the likelihood that he will repeat the success (as a Jay) that he had in 2010. I do think he will dominate in Milwaukee though.

2) As someone that kept telling everyone that Brett Wallace isn't as good as you think, I believe the opposite to be true for Lawrie. I believe that Lawrie is now the Jays best prospect, yes better than Arencibia, Drabek, Stewart, etc., and don't think there was ever a chance the Jays could get a better prospect in return for Marcum. Lawrie is a STUD! Book it!

Anonymous said...

Way to go AA, wouldn't want to break that streak of 17 straight years without a playoff sniff. I can't wait until 2015 when we're ready to compete, then when that doesn't happen, I can wait until 2018, yeah, that will be the year.

I guess when a team wins 85 games in the AL East, they clearly aren't anywhere close, and they might as well just dump salary so they can get that annual payroll below 70 million. Rogers clearly has to be concerned with cost effectiveness otherwise, how in the world would they be able to make a 1.3 billion dollar MLSE bid.

gsumner said...

I'm not so sure about this trade....

Anonymous said...

i hope lawrie can be a great player, and maybe he will be, but if it takes 4 years to happen then this trade was not worth it

i'd like to see the long list of prospects who were defensively questionable with a sub 800 OPS, without a lot of power in aa who 2 years later were solid major leaguers - please show me that list

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous at 346 pm...the jays have been close for about 3 years now...with 1 gaping hole which they 'refused' to fill--- a lefty decent hitting slugger at 1b or dh...someone eerily like adam laroche...similarly, this upcoming year, the jays were poised for wild card contention---missing a 1b, dh type like laroche...or even a johnny damon as dh addition.
so unless the marcum deal is a precursor for something bigger (i.e greinke), this looks like a very big mistake...all based on some supposition that the jays aren't ready in 2011...the jays were ready in 08 with doc and aj on the mound, they were ready in 09 with lind and hill having mvp type seasons, they were ready last year...

Ice Cream Jonsey said...

How you trade Marcum with expanded playoffs coming is beyond me. That will never make sense to me. The timetable has been pushed back, and it's ridiculous. I can't see this as anything other than Rogers being too cheap to knock Marcum's socks off with an extension.

(Whoops, I keep forgetting. The "money will be there.")

The Ack said...

re: not wanting to offer Marcum an extension - that actually seems reasonable to me, assuming Marcum wanted big dollars/big years.

Romero is already locked up, and Cecil, Morrow, RZep, Drabek, Stewart are all either MLB ready or on the verge, with another slew of arms coming down the line (as unpredictable as young arms may be).

Much as I love Marcum, last year was probably his peak & he probably doesn't have the "ceiling" many of those other guys have....which is the new front office MO, it seems.

Anonymous said...

whether marcum is at his peak now or not is irrelevant (if he got off to a start next year like he did in 08 what do you think his value would be at the deadline?) the question is should you be trading players with marcum's value for 1 player who won't help you before 2014 in the most optimistic scenario.

Ty said...

Anon 10:19, if by 'optimistic' you mean 'totally unrealistic and based on nothing at all', then yes, that's right.

bkblades said...

It seems clear to me that the somewhat unexpected 85 wins last season is hampering AA's perspective and ultimate vision to be a perennial contender.

If fans are convinced the Blue Jays are this close to being World Series contenders, then yes, trading Marcum (and seeing this trade in a vacuum) makes this team weaker.

However, if you're under the thought process that the Blue Jays would be hard-pressed to make the playoffs next season, let alone exceed 85 wins again, then trading a 29 year old pitcher at likely his peak for a highly touted infielder prospect (a position the Blue Jays aren't particularly deep right now) for 2012 and beyond makes sense.

Hurley said...

Bkblades your point is a good one, but how many "highly touted prospects" have we seen fall through the cracks in, say the last decade. Prospects are a gamble, and as Ice Cream Jonsey correctly points out, with the expanded playoff format on the horizon, now would be the time to retain some of your best players and try to get into the post season in the next 2-3 years. That's all this team needs to revitalize its fanbase, because right now, the interest in this team is abysmal. There is no way that the 4th largest sports market in North America should be second last in attendance in the AL, regardless of the TV numbers (and that's up for debate also). By trading arguably your most consistent starter for a "maybe", the message your sending to the casual fan is not a positive one. People are getting tired of every spring training, the news coming out of Dunedin inevitably degenerating into we're not quite ready to compete.

Xave said...

The "selling high" point is a good one. Fans always want teams to sell high, and then complain when they do, because it's easy to get blinded by a guy's shiny stats and think the player is suddenly a star. If I were to put money on it, I'd bet that Marcum was better in 2010 than he would've been in '11 or '12 in Toronto, simply because of regression to the mean.

Andrew said...

It's a bit hard to see the team deal their opening day starter for the second straight year.

That said, this shouldn't come as a surprise after seeing Anthopoulos deal his MLB-ready first baseman of the future for a guy who likely won't reach the majors for another 2-3 years. We'll see what happens the rest of the way, but to me, it looks like AA is still working towards building a perennial contender by acquiring cheap, young talents who could one day turn out to be elite major league players.

I have to think that nobody has a better sense of what Marcum's long-term worth to the franchise was, and if AA sees him as a player that isn't likely to be retained beyond 2012, then I think he did well to cash in now and get a player who hopefully will be close to ready a few years from now, rather than getting a package of prospects that might make an impact in 2014 or 2015 in a trade somewhere down the line.

Just because the team was a pleasant surprise and won 85 games in 2010 doesn't make it reasonable to expect the same amount of growth in 2011, and assume that the team is only a player or two away from winning 95+ games and making a serious run at the playoffs.