We've made a point through most of this year of toning down some of the outlandish fanboy praise for Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, if only to pull back the reins on some of the expectations that have been built up by his initial moves over his first two years in the post. Anthopoulos is not wizard, secret agent, ninja, evil genius or whatever other stock movie character to which he has been compared.
And yet, it's hard not to let the plaudits fly after another extraordinary player personnel move yesterday.
Within the past week, we had told people that we thought it highly unlikely that the Jays would have any capacity to acquire a player such as Colby Rasmus. The notion that a player would be available when he is controllable, plays a premium position, possesses all five tools and has seemingly yet to reach his ceiling seemed to be remote at best. Add to that the fact that a number of other suitors were certain to step forward if he were to become available, and the notion that the Jays would empty out their newly restocked system for him just didn't compute.
Of course, we hadn't really factored in Anthopoulos' ability to make possible the impossible. Trading Vernon Wells' contract? Impossible! An unmovable contract! Getting value for Roy Halladay when he's shrunk the pool of possible destinations to one? How could anyone do such a thing? Acquiring another team's number one prospect in their system? That just doesn't happen! Don't be ridiculous!
What we especially love about this deal - and much of the Anthopoulos oeuvre - is how it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. The Jays are a team that, if the baseball scriptures are to be heeded, should be selling. They should be emptying out their system of talent sending pieces to buyers. Because that's how this works.
But this trade is yet another example of Anthopoulos both flouting the conventions, and using the momentum and ambition of other "contenders" in order to extract what he needs to build a solid core of a team that will be in Toronto for at least four-to-five affordable years. And he does it without leaving the other teams feeling as though they were fleeced. That's no small accomplishment when you consider the magnitude of this equation: The bodies, contracts, cash, futures and picks getting balanced out somehow in such a manner that three teams could walk away satisfied.
Moreover, the Rasmus trade is positively brilliant in as much as it makes the team's lineup better now and in the future while essentially costing the team a left-handed reliever and a pitching prospect. (There's a lot of clutter and contracts that were swapped, but in essence, this deal comes down to Stewart and Rzepczynski for Rasmus. And were you to tell us that the cost of acquiring Colby Freaking Rasmus would be two young pitchers drawn from a growing crop of hurlers, we would have told you to stop dreaming.
In baseball, as in most other pursuits, there are no sure things. It's entirely possible the Colby Rasmus ends up being a decent centrefielder who hovers below an .800 OPS and occasionally rubs his teammates the wrong way. But there's evidence to suggest that, at 24, he can grow into a transcendent player who is the sort of star that we as Jays fans covet when they are given outlandish contracts by the Yankees or Red Sox.
The true brilliance of this trade is that it's as if sometime, eight-to-ten years down the road, Alex Anthopoulos decided to forgo the free agent sweepstakes, hop into his modified DeLorean and zip back to a time where he could acquire the $100 million player for pennies on the dollar and enjoy the years which built him up to that value before someone else paid through the nose for that past performance.
And there we go...getting all supernatural again. Alex Anthopoulos brings that out in us.