Sunday, September 23, 2012
Angst Now, or Angst Later?
The last time I blogged hereabouts, I was railing against the dying of the light, refusing to go gentle into that good night, swearing I would enjoy the last few weeks of the Blue Jays' disastrous 2012 season. It's been a challenge, friends.
Since then, out of thirteen games, they've won... [counts]... TWO? Two goddamn wins? Yes, that's apparently accurate. I've tried to focus on the positive -- the settling in of Adeiny Hechavarria, the emerging adequacy of Aaron Loup, I'm sure there are one or two others -- but losing sucks. The fight to finish fourth in the division ahead of the equally discombobulated Boston Red Sox has been as dreary an endeavour as you might expect.
I think it's jealousy that I'm feeling, actually. I've taken to cursing the improbable Orioles every time they pull another extra-inning win out of their hindquarters, because I refuse to believe the talent they've assembled there is better than what Toronto has on a position by position basis, yet there they are, challenging for the division lead in late September. We haven't seen that for two decades as Jays fans, and to see another long-suffering AL East franchise enjoy such a stretch now makes me envious.
On the plus side, though, this ugliness has probably provided me with a certain amount of objectivity I didn't have before about some players on whom decisions will need to be made in the off-season. As a fan, I want them all to succeed, and even when they don't, I often look past their flaws or assume they can be easily rectified with some off-season coaching, adjustments, and presumably pixie dust. But this season's struggles have led me to question whether I'd be prepared to see even some of my favourite players be moved in off-season deals if it meant an upgrade.
I think it's healthy to begin to re-evaluate which players are untouchable when it comes time to address the needs that Alex Anthopoulos has candidly identified. Last off-season, I was singing Yunel Escobar's praises as a long-term solution at shortstop. Now, given his dismal offensive season, to say nothing of his other issues, I wouldn't hesitate to include him in a trade (even if that's admittedly selling low on an asset). But the Escobar situation is pretty much self-evident by now. Who else on the roster is untouchable now -- or more to the point, who would you have considered a longshot to be traded six months ago that now might be more realistically on the block? Does Colby Rasmus still get the benefit of the doubt after what we've seen apart from one strong month? Is next year's 23-year-old version of Brett Lawrie more valuable as a trade chip than he will be over the long term as the Blue Jays' every day third baseman?
I expect the Jays' marketing department and/or the Mounties to show up at my door at any moment for daring to suggest that the Blue Jays could trade Brett Lawrie. And I'm not even saying they should. Maybe it's just this bleak, brutal September that has me thinking things are worse than they are, and players that were once seen as cornerstones could now be trade bait. Thankfully there are people who actually get paid to think about baseball making these decisions on a more informed basis than me.
But I do believe there are some surprises in store this off-season with respect to what the team will have to give up to get those much-needed upgrades. Some prospect-porn types on whom we've been dreaming might end up on some other team's Eastern League affiliate. And yes, even some big-league players to whom we've become attached will change uniforms too. The last couple of off-seasons have been filled with one kind of angst: the kind that comes from the team perceived to be doing little or nothing to improve. If Anthopoulos starts dealing, we might be faced with a whole different kind of angst this time around.