I've always resisted the notion that the Blue Jays should be looking to trade off prospects in exchange for potentially costly veterans for the sake of "appearances" and adding a few wins here and there.... but let's be honest. Since about 1993, it would have been mostly for appearances.
The Jays have not been contenders, and those are moves that only contenders should really make. Going one step further, the Jays system, quite frankly, has never really been strong enough to make the strategy legitimate.
Here in the 2011 season, at least one of those points has changed. The minor league system might never have been stronger than it is today, with names like Lawrie, d'Arnaud, Gose, McGuire, etc "cluttering" up many a top prospect list no matter the publication. Alex Anthopoulos' healthy obsession with stockpiling talent and spending (yes, spending) on amateur talent, whether via draft or international signings, has quite clearly begun to pay off handsomely with the Blue Jays prospect list the envy of every franchise, save for perhaps one or two.
And it hasn't been by chance that the organization has found it's way here. If the much maligned Ricciardian Years can be stereotyped with big splashy free agent signings, the AA Era is stamped with smart internal investment and building from the ground up. With more than a few ninja trades mixed in, of course. But this stockpiling of talent ain't for nothin', as the GM himself is quite fond of saying that not all the prospects will wear Blue Jay uniforms; the clear implication being that some will be used as trade chips to fill holes and complete the roster on the slow march towards contention.
Which begs the question..... are we there yet? Are the Toronto Blue Jays close enough to being a championship calibre ballclub that now is the time to start cashing in some of those prospect chips?
If you've been following me on The Twitter (and if you haven't.... you probably aren't missing much - how's that for self-promotion?), you'll notice I've been openly musing about the possibility of the Jays dangling Travis d'Arnaud. It's not that I want to see TdA moved; far from it. But..... IF the Jays decide that Arencibia is their guy for the forseeable future, and IF the club is indeed close enough to contention that it makes sense to add the beef now... then, you know, isn't that the right call?
And I'm only using d'Arnaud as an example. What about Kyle Drabek? Deck McGuire? Henderson Alvarez? A year ago, we'd all shudder at the thought of dealing any piece of our precious collection of prospect porn.... but now? The franchise has depth. Losing d'Arnaud would hurt, but a good enough JP Arencibia with a charging AJ Jimenez (or Carlos Perez, or whomever) means you're dealing from a position of strength. And if that's the cost for acquiring (insert impact major league player at a position of need here), then that's the right call.
Do you know who trades coveted "name" prospects for star major leaguers? The Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox do. Do you know who the Blue Jays are trying to emulate in terms of success at the major league level? Obvious is obvious.
Are the Jays close enough to start making those kinds of trades? I can't say that for sure, but we'll know what Alex Anthopoulos thinks the answer to that question is soon enough.