Monday, December 20, 2010

...Or maybe your expectations

I'll say this about the "fuck this offseason" crowd....they have an arguable point. Perhaps not a defensible point per se, and certainly not one I'm ready to concede, but they do have a point.

Now the disclaimer, as always, remains that three months of offseason remain, and you never know (radio silence!) when the other shoe will drop with this cloak & dagger regime. But it does seem faiiiirly safe to assume that we likely won't see the "impact" move many of us (read: me) predicted we'd see in an effort to firm up the roster on the path to contention.

Sure, there was the big trade - Marcum for Lawrie - but that was quite obviously not a move designed to strengthen the team now. It was a deal Anthopoulos felt he had to make for a player long-coveted (just like Ricciardi & Mencherson, natch) towards contention, uh...sometime? And there's no arguing that smartly offering arbitration to free agents Downs, Buck, Olivo, and Gregg will ultimately benefit the organization through the stockpiling of draft picks. But again - when?

When will these moves position the major league roster as contenders? Certainly not with an eye toward 2011...but 2012? 2013? Is there a set timeline - beyond the now-standard "the players will tell us when we're ready" fall-back?

I believe there to be. But as usual, AA ain't tellin'. Except with regards to 2011. It's not setting up to be the year we (yes - we!) bring the Evil EmpireS to their knees. And as per usual - with us - it's hurry up and wait. Be patient.

But that's the rub, isn't it? Was there really ever another way? Could it have possibly gone differently this offseason without pulling an Orioles and throwing money at middling veterans in a vain attempt to not finish last? What other outcomes could we reasonably - reasonably - have expected?

Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, and Jayson Werth were never going to sign here.

Justin Upton was never going to be traded here (or anywhere).

Zack Greinke - apparently - was never going to be a Blue Jay.

Now now, angry commenters, lest I be accused of having, uh, intimate relationships with Alex Anthopoulos, like many a blogger have been accused of this winter, there are scenarios which make a whole lot of sense to me which very likely will never be considered.

For example, let's talk about Adrian Beltre. He's still out there. He's theoretically been rejected by many of the winter's largest suitors, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California United States of America notwithstanding. He wants a shit-tonne of money and 4 or 5 years to be sure - but what impact free agent - this offseason, or next, or the one after that - won't? And if "the money will be there when we need it", and the club is poised to make a push in the next two (or three, even) seasons..... why not make that free-agent play now? Check off that gaping hole at third base on next season's to-do list this offseason?

And it's not even that I'm pro-Beltre, but it's this certain logic of not spending that I'm trying to unravel.

As usual, we wait. And that's not half bad. This team is fun. It's a good ballclub. The organization, as a whole, is now walking a straight-line path towards respectability, and maybe even envy.

That's the part we have to wait out.


DaveC said...

I know you're not arguing for Beltre, but he crapped the best on the last long term deal he got, I'm amazed anyone's thinking of giving him another one.

Patience is the order of the day with this regime, and getting value when they do spend money- extending known quantities and young talent, accruing assets, rather than buying free agents. It's worked out well in a lot of cases so far, so AA has earned some trust.

This year will be interesting- the lineup looks largely the same, but some of the smaller pieces (bullpen, bench, manager) will be different enough. It's a transition year in some sense, but still building towards an ultimate goal.

I think the window's in sight- the Yankees are old, the Rays lost a ton of guys, and another wild card might be in play for 2012.

In AA we trust.

Navin said...

The worst thing AA could have done was watch his underrated Jays win 85 ball games, and then put the pedal to the medal. The fact he's done the exact opposite this season makes me believe in him all the more.

Was I excited when the Jays went out and signed Burnett and BJ? And Frank Thomas? Absolutely. I went to more baseball games in those two years than I did the previous 10. But I'm just as excited this winter to watch AA sit back, trade Marcum for a high ceiling prospect, and sign EE on the cheap, and bide his time. This off-season for the Blue Jays, in its limited activity, I've found tremendously exciting. Here's to 2011, 2012, 2013, and so on.

Anonymous said...

How about Johnny Damon at $6 million for a year as DH? Lefty Bat --- could be good for .800 OPS, 20 steals

Navin said...

Pedal to the metal, too. And I meant "offseason" not season in the 1st paragraph. Boozy commenting. Fuck.

Bret said...

The thing is, the Rays are taking a step back this year, and the Yankees obviously have some weaknesses (pitching and age). But the Rays will see a ton of young talent join their ranks this year and gain experience. The Yankees will undoubtedly re-tool next offseason if this year doesn't go well.

2011 seemed to be a window for the Jays, and while I haven't gotten through every single signing that's happened, it seems to me that their are/were options that would have given the Jays a better shot in 2011, and only cost money, rather than pieces for the future. Edwin Encarnacion? Really? I get that there's some upside there, but for a few million extra the team could have signed Manny Ramirez, and for a few million more than that, they probably could bring in Derrek Lee. I realize the contracts handed out to relievers have been sort of nuts, but still, Carlos Villanueva is the big acquisition of the offseason?

It's just things like that which make one shake their head, especially if we're supposed to continue buying into the notion that the "money is there."

Maybe Anthopoulos knows what he's doing, and Edwin Encarnacion will be 2011's Alex Gonzalez while Villanueva plays the role of Kevin Gregg.

But as of now, I can't see how this offseason can be seen as a success, and I think if he would ever talk about it, Anthopoulos would say the same. Anthopoulos laid out a few goals for the offseason back in October: 1) Improve team speed. 2) Improve team OBP. 3) Improve the bullpen.

Rajai Davis helps meet the first objective, but the other two have been pretty much failures. The Jays essentially replaced Lyle Overbay - who despite his down year, was one of the team's better players at getting on-base - with Edwin Encarnacion, who fits into the exact offensive profile the team had last year. And the team hasn't managed yet to replace what Scott Downs, and to a lesser extent, Kevin Gregg brought to the table. Sure, some arms will be left out there at the end for Anthopoulos to scoop up, but it's hard to imagine one of Downs calibre (or even with that upside) being left, and certainly not enough to actually see the bullpen improve.

l'm not at all an Anthopoulos hater, and was never one of those "win now" guys that thought we should go all out for Zack Greinke and blow our cash on Carl Crawford. In a vacuum, I like the Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie swap. But I still can't see how anyone can see this offseason as anything but a disappointment.

The Ack said...

You see, Bret above me here is exactly the type of fan (who finds this offseason disappointing) whose point of view I can understand and have a hard time arguing with/against. Well put, my friend.

(as opposed to the "Rogers are cheap assholes who NEVER intend on winning" fan)

This should have been in the post (but too fucking late now, genius), but what was/is the offseason checklist?


And what are the solutions - so far?

An Encarnacion/Lind platoon?

To be determined - Bautista or a stopgap?

Whoever is left on the reliever pile?

I don't know. I don't think any combination of moves would have put the Jays in contender mode, necessarily....but as a whole....? What's been accomplished?

Remains to be seen, I suppose. I believe the team to be on the right & proper path, but hoped to add a little petrol to the tank this winter. I don't know that we have.

Navin said...

Bret, I'm happy with the offseason b/c EE over Ramirez, and someone like Lee, proves that AA is not going to bother with the notion of a one-time window. At least not yet. Why not open a door? What's the rush? It's been 17 years. I'd rather they take the steady approach and open a 5-year window than a 1-year window.

As for making the team better in regards to OBP, you know who could really help in that department? Hill and Lind. It's time to see what those two are made of. Can't make a run, can't jump through that window, if those guys don't show up again.

A guy like Scott Downs came out of nowhere for the Jays when he was acquired. Let's see, with the guys currently on the roster, if that can happen again. Downs was by no means a special talent, in terms of his arm, or his makeup, or his stuff. But he made it work.

Playoffs!!!1 Lots of playoffs, preferably.

Tony Viner said...


For those imbeciles who believe that my strategy of fielding a powerhouse team for relative pennies on the dollar will fail, I point to the triumph of my 2010 plan. It was me, a truly brilliant, handsome gentleman, who promised 85 wins and a rise to prominence in the baseball world. It was me, who scouted and signed Jose, the Homerun King. It was I, who provided hope for the future with such a rewarding season. Do not be so easily dissuaded from believing in me, and my plan.

The point is this: 2011 will only serve as a continuation of my grand scheme, which relies on my brilliant, industrious business acumen, and my ability to translate said ability into success at the baseball level.

I have repeatedly expressed that you, my fans and followers, would have to blindly follow me to the Promised Land, and that the path to glory would at times be tough. But rest assured, the moment of my glory is imminent.

It may seem to the layman that my team requires major additions in order to contend in 2011, but trust me, it does not. Would you have me dole out multiple millions and extended contract terms on players that are aging, and that I myself have no confidence in? Would I ever commit to a player who's cost/benefit ratio forced me into a high risk gamble? Of course I would not. Instead, I rely on sound business strategy, to guarantee a profitable, and efficacious baseball franchise.

I will offer you, my fans, what you desire; insight into the beautiful mind of Handsome Tony Viner. My plan, in which you all play a role in, obviously to varying degrees, is as follows:

Firstly, I will retain the services of the Homerun King Jose, whom I have a deep personal and business relationship with. He may not repeat the massive offensive output he provided in 2010, but I count on an above-average OBP and over 30HR.

Secondly, I have guaranteed the re-emergence of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, by recruiting the spy John Farrell, who will provide advanced scouting reports directly from the belly of the beast (which will actually benefit the entire team). The hiring of Farrell may eclipse my insanely adept move to acquire the Homerun King Jose, in terms of its underhandedness and indeed, in terms of the successful implementation of another one of my sexy, clandestine operations.

Tony Viner said...

Thirdly, I will only rely on the plethora of cheap, quality arms that I have stockpiled for the past several years to fill my RP needs. I, along with my new underling Farrell, will construct a bullpen that relies on grand strategy combined with basic on-field tactics (a combination that has been sorely lacking, as you well know). Fundamentally sound, this bullpen will feature ground ball inducing machines such as Camp and Rzepczynski, righty destroyers such as Richmond, and left handed specialists such as David Purcey. Although this relief corps may not inspire confidence from the perspective of the average fan, or even you, my loyal fans and followers, it will provide solid performance when utilized correctly by my new man.

Fourthly, I have brokered another unfair, and dishonest contract with a young Latin super-star-to-be. Encarnacion will feast on opposing pitching, and will indeed provide augmentation to the Homerun King Jose's bat, all for less than what his original, and rightful contract terms demanded.

Lastly, Yunel Escobar and Travis Snider have been allocated advanced personal trainers and coaches, and I absolutely guarantee these young men will become the super-stars I knew they would be when I acquired them.

Add all this to a healthy and productive Vernon Wells, the emergence of the Miami-born rookie catcher, and an influx of talent via trade at the deadline, and voilĂ ! This year, I am offering you an estimated 88+ wins, which will again shock the world, and provide "meaningful games" well into August.

Look, you will just have to accept that I am cast from a different mold than the average business tycoon, and that I am much smarter, and far more handsome than the lot of you. That is not to say that I do not respect you, as I need your dreams and your loyalty to guarantee that my plan reaches fruition and provides me with the ultimate of successes. For now, you will have to submit to my charm and wit, as you have little else left to cling to.

Trust me,

Handsome Tony Viner

Heckler said...

I think people are taking the concept of a plan too literally. I think the plan is to look at every angle and make smart and informed decisions.

Mattt said...

Handsome Tony has spoken. There is nothing left to say.

The 5th Starter said...

Is there not something to be said for current players taking a step forward?

Last offseason, we all whined and complained that the Jays didn't sign a single Major League free agent. The team would no doubt finish in last, behind the Orioles, who had just signed some overhyped free agents. Then, our young pitching core stepped up, and was brilliant.

I expect something similar this year. Not necessarily another step forward.

This year will also let us know who some of the players really are: Aaron Hill? Jose Bautista? Yunel Escobar? I have complete faith in the Adam Lind offensive rebound, but his Defence is still a question mark. Can Morrow stay healthy? Can Romero take another step forward? Can Cecil repeat his one-year success against the AL East?

Too many questions left unanswered to sign any significant free agents.

Peter DeMarco said...

Some thoughts:

- I don't necessarily agree that Beltre was awful in Seattle. He did put up a .800 OPS average over his five years (on the road), which was approximately .100 points higher than his at home numbers. This shows that his Seattle home park really had a negative effect on his overall numbers. Plus he played great defense. Now is he worth $14-15 million a year for the next five years, probably not but it wouldn't be a horrible deal.
- Where I agree with the Nay Sayers, is that the Jays could go all in and be competitive this year. If they were to have traded for Grienke and Adrian Gonzelez and then signed Adrian Beltre and Raffy Soriano, I think they would be legitimate contenders this year. However there is a lot of risk with this approach, because if it doesn't work, you are stuck with these guys for a long time with no prospects of turning things around.
- In my opinion there is something a little more special about building from the ground up, then adding the few missing pieces. That is what leads to an extended period of success which we saw from 1984 through 1993 (ten years). Even the Yankees build a core before adding the extra pieces.

Bret said...

Thanks a lot for the nice words, Tao.

Navin, I guess my whole issue is that why are the two mutually exclusive? Aaron Hill and Adam Lind will be focal points on this team regardless of whether Edwin Encarnacion or Manny Ramirez are the DH. Signing a nice relief pitcher or two isn't going to impact the ability for a younger pitcher to come out of nowhere and have a break out year.

I see the argument that "the Jays shouldn't be like the OrioLOLs" - but I don't quite see what the Orioles have done that's so bad? Just like last year, they've gone out and filled holes, at positions where they won't be blocking any young player, with the best talent they could reasonably acquire. They traded a pair of relief pitchers (ie. nothing) for Mark Reynolds, who should give a nice boost and some excitement at third base. They didn't have to give up much at all to trade for JJ Hardy, who all things considered, may have been the best shortstop available (even if that isn't saying much). And they'll probably add a first baseman like Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee, too. And what exactly is the harm done? They've spent more money than the Jays, and yes, most likely they won't finish better than fourth place. But at least they gave themselves a chance. They have a young team with a lot of potential, and if Matt Wieters finally breaks out, Adam Jones returns to his 2009 form, their talented rotation (Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta, etc.) takes a step forward, they could have a nice team. Sure, it's unlikely that they compete, but at least if things start breaking their way, their fans will be able to know that the team put their best foot forward in the offseason.

That's essentially the spot the Jays seemed to be in when the offseason started, too. No one would bet that they'd be a playoff team next year, but it seemed like it was in the realm of possibility. If Snider broke out, Hill and Lind rebounded, and Bautista managed to repeat even 70% of his 2010 success, this seemed like a team that had at least decent potential.

And again, maybe the Jays tried to do the same. After all, they were apparently in on Dan Uggla, and the rumoured package they had offered was along the same lines - nothing that was going to harm the team longterm. But other than that, and granted we don't really know who Anthopoulos has been targeting, the impression put out at least has been that the Jays are just trying to find cheap talent and bounceback candidates, which aren't exactly the most inspiring to a fanbase.

The offseason of course isn't done yet, and if not for Anthopoulos' comments about Encarnacion getting regular playing time next year, I would wonder if his signing really precludes adding Manny Ramirez as the full time DH.

Bret said...

Err, sorry, that should say "thanks Ack" - it's still early!

William J. Tasker said...

Let the season play itself out. Did any of you expect the Giants to win the 2010 World Series? Heck, it could be the Blue Jays in 2011.

Which many bave been what Viner said, but it was too boring to read.

Anonymous said...

Why not buy early? I'll tell you why.

We would pay more to bring in someone when we can only promise future success (down the road)as opposed to offering success in the immediate future. Players have egos. They need/want to win. You'll pay more to get them to tolerate losing for an indefinite period of time.

AA's strategy is sound. Don't buy it til you need it otherwise you are paying for something you aren't using.

Xave said...

AA is clearly a fan of the trade route. Perhaps he's saving his bucks for acquiring young, premium players and extending them. As Dave Cameron pointed out, the trade market seems to favour buyers much more than the trade market these days.