Friday, July 20, 2012

Happ-y Jays Are Here Again

When my head finally hit the pillow last night, this clearly wasn't the news that I expected to drop today. One comes to assume the most boring news is the most likely to occur, so if Travis Snider was on his way to join the Jays, there was probably a minor DL roster move coming, right?

But a ten-player trade? Ten players?! That, my friends, is a BIG trade. Also: It's b-a-n-a-n-a-s. It's a whole bundle of them. And probably more than can be reasonably digested in the small amount of time afforded. Nevertheless, here's a few thoughts and notions on the broad strokes of the roster moves in the past 24 hours.

Lunchbox Returns: As much as I'd like to take credit for the Jays decision to finally give Travis Snider his due, one would have to truly be an egomaniac bereft of good sense or any attachment to reality to think that a caterwauling temper tantrum of a blog post had any effect on the mindset of the Jays brass.

Having said that, if you all could just go on pretending that it is so, it would make your blogging pal feel much better about himself.

From Alex Anthopoulos' radio interviews this morning, it appears as though Snider will be given the opportunity to start every day with the Jays, at least until José Bautista returns. That might sound as though it is a thin opportunity for Snider to prove himself and retain the job. But a clear-eyed look at the competition for the job should tell you that Snider is the most likely to perform, and the most likely to regain his place as an everyday player. In a small sample, anything is possible, but a few homers or steals or web gems from Anthony Gose are unlikely to outshine the totality of Snider's game, even in limited time.

Who's In: It's an interesting collection of marginal arms, but when you've seen your pitching staff depleted as profoundly as the Jays' has been, you'll take what you can get.

Former Ottawa Lynx J.A. Happ - pronounced "Jay Happ", so there's that - was long rumoured to be one of the pieces that would be sent to Toronto in a trade for Roy Halladay. He's a serviceable if unspectacular starter, though he has a few years of control remaining, and could be a decent piece to have around through the next few years. The pitching staff is going to be thinner in the short term than many of us would have imagined coming out of the spring, so having extra manpower for 2013 is definitely a plus.

Brandon Lyon is a peculiar case in that he was a young pitcher who had been rushed to the Majors by the Jays in 2002, and now he returns a full decade later as a 32 year-old. It seems like so long ago that it's stunning to hear how relatively young he is. Lyon will provide some depth in the bullpen, and spare us some of the minor league outings that we were seeing at the major league level in recent weeks.

The most interesting piece might be David Carpenter, a 26 year old whose fastball averages in the mid-90's (94.5 MPH) and who had posted some decent strikeout rates through his minor league career. Good bullpens are made up of guys who throw hard and have a few good years, so Carpenter might be worth tracking as we look ahead to the next few years.

Who's Out: After spending much of the season pushing back on the criticism of Francisco Cordero, his welcome finally wore out at the beginning of this month. So again: Fell free to lay the credit for his expulsion from Toronto right here.

Cordero had become toxic beyond all recognition, and John Farrell had clearly - some might say "finally - lost faith in him given his light workload this month. He was essentially taking up a roster spot, so moving him was a plus regardless of the return.

Ben Francisco's performance wasn't nearly as bad as Coco's, but he was in much the same situation: He was not terrible, but ultimately superfluous, and his presence on the roster did little other than block Travis Snider from getting big league reps.

Diving deeper into the trade, the prospect angle is one that others can speak to much better than I, but I'll allow this: It's possible that a couple of these guys end up being big league contributors. They might even end up being really good. But they were several years away from contributing to the major league roster, and that's a lot of distance between a cup and a lip. Maybe there will be regret over Carlos Perez or Joe Musgrove in 2014, but if the question that is nagging right now is "was this worth it?", that's a tough one to even presume to answer this quickly.

The more salient question might be: "What are we fighting for at this point?" This blog tends to be a den of starry-eyed optimism, but even with a fairly positive outlook, it would appear that the Jays will be hard-pressed to maintain a level of respectability given the injuries and unexpected dips in performance. So as these transactions net out, is the upside that the Jays are now better able to make a run at a .500 season? Do these reinforcements help keep them out of the AL East basement? And ultimately, is there merit in treading water in what could have turned into a profoundly awful season?


Anonymous said...

Very insightful, despite what might come of the young players that were traded, the focus right now is to try and make the playoffs.
This seems like a fairly decent trade, being able to stop the bleeding from the pitching point of view but there is no replacement for Bautista and possibly Lawrie.
Unless the Jays can come away with something better than a .500 run over the next 10 games, I'm not sold on them making the playoffs.

CJ said...

Quick comments after watching last night's 7-3 win over the RS and their $173 million payroll ... Gose is replacing Bautista, Snider is replacing Davis whose offense has been notably poor lately -- and Snider is a clear upgrade on defense ... Happ might be OK but only threw 5 pitches so what can you know ... Lyon throws fast for a guy who's had "experimental" arm surgery ... I'm a pessimist about this year's team, but you know what? Except for the Yankees, everybody else in the division sucks too. And in 21st century baseball, all you have to do is make the playoffs and then you never know who's going to go all the way. How much worse are the Jays than the 2010 Giants?

That said, what a snakebit year this has been. The pitching obviously, but the hitting realy isn't that great either. They get shut down totally by good pitchers, and the bottom of the order is a void space.