"Do they all pan out? Do they all do well? Who knows? But I'm not opposed at all to taking prospects and trading them for big-league players.
"They're not all going to play up here and part of drafting and signing and developing these players is to use them to supplement the big league team. I think the depth is certainly there to make a trade, and it's something we'll look at if we think we can get a player who can be part of this."
I've thrown those words around on this blog a number of times, and I'll be damned if I don't keep coming back to them. That was Alex Anthopoulos in November 2010, just over two short years ago. The context then was different than it is now for the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, acquiring "a player who can be a part of this" sounded tantalizing, despite the fact that many of us didn't have a clue what "this" was.
We had an inkling that we were in the early stages of a plan; Anthopoulos has always seemed to have a plan. Or maybe we just needed to believe he had a plan to help us sleep at night. In the autumn of 2010, the notion of trading large swaths of the still-under-construction prospect base was more far-off fantasy than immediate option to create a contending major league roster.
As a result, two years ago, I was probably spending more time trying to sort out whether departing players were Type A or Type B free agents under the old collective agreement than whether incoming players were any damn good. The idea of bringing in-their-prime, elite talent to Toronto was fun to think about, in the same way that buying a winter home in the Cayman Islands is fun to think about -- maybe one day if things break right, but not really in the cards right now.
Still, I (and many others) clung to the "They're not all going to play up here" quote, through the strange ride that saw marginal relievers and backup-turned-starting catchers cycle through town as part of the Anthopoulos quest for supplemental draft picks. I told myself it's all going somewhere, that watching Kevin Gregg walk three or four guys in an inning was just the price we were paying to stock the prospect pipeline.
Then something funny happened along the way: I got to really like some of those prospects. I read all the analysis, and then the analysis of the analysis, of all the annual Top 100 prospect lists, upon which more and more names from Lansing, Dunedin, New Hamsphire and Las Vegas seemed to turn up every year.
I still kept the quote tucked in my back pocket, ready to pull out when Anthopoulos made a deal that made me squirm a little bit because I'd invested a few hopes and dreams in a kid I'd never really seen play. Sure, Alex, move one or two of those stud prospects, you know, if you have to, but don't trade the special ones.
Turns out none of them were special. Or, more accurately, even the most special ones weren't immune to what was foreshadowed of November 2010.
I can't claim any deep inside knowledge of the character or intentions of the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays. I can only take what he says, compare it to what he does, and see how they match up. And even though he seems to talk in circles that leave the kind of wiggle room any politician would envy, I've found that he generally does what he says.
So long, then, Travis d'Arnaud. Be well, Jake Marisnick. Go get 'em, Noah Syndergaard. You were fun to read about. You're probably going to be fun to watch for other teams. But then again, "Who knows?" Right?
But we should have known all along you weren't all going to play up here.