In my last post, I talked about the jealousy I have for fans of the Boston Red Sox. The jealousy comes from what I see as a lack of passion coming from the management of the Toronto Blue Jays. It is hard to be a passionate fan of a team that is not being run with the same passion. The way the MLB Trade Deadline unfolded is a good example of this.
Leading up to the MLB (Non-Waiver) Trade Deadline, the Blue Jays were in a position to add players to make a push for the playoffs. They haven’t been in this position in YEARS. We all know that. Considering the deals that went down, is it that unreasonable to expect that the Blue Jays couldn’t have been part of any of them? Take for example the David Price deal: Are you telling me we don’t have the equivalent of Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson or Nick Franklin? Depending on your opinion, maybe not. But, in case of some players, we may have better packages.
Could we not have made something work to get Jon Lester? Granted, the A’s gave up Yoenis Cespedes to bring in the big lefty. I’m not so sure I would have made that deal. But, again, the Blue Jays do have attractive pieces. What about Colby Rasmus? I would have been happy to give up Rasmus, J.A. Happ plus to land Lester. I know, I know, it is an inter-division trade, blah, blah, blah. Anyone who thinks that teams won’t trade in their division when a good enough package is offered are crazy. So, what happened? And, for the record, if AA could have worked out an extension for Lester, I may actually be OK with giving up Bautista for him. Just saying.
There seems to be a thought process from the Blue Jays that for the “right deal” they will jump. They are trying to make smart baseball moves. That has been their approach under Alex Anthopoulos. He’s been collecting draft picks, even manipulating deals just to obtain them (see Miguel Olivo). Maybe that is why teams ask for the moon when dealing with the Blue Jays. Maybe it is an Alex Anthopoulos tax and not an intra-division penalty.
Anyway, this ‘ninja’ stuff has all be under the notion of “building a sustainable winner”. Then, when the time was right, the team would strike. We saw this with the blockbuster deal with Miami that netted Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. But, wait. Are you trying to tell me that this move, with it’s big, hefty contracts was “smart baseball”? Hmmm. Nonetheless, fans were teased and tricked into thinking this might have been the start of a team ‘going for it’.
When this deal didn’t result in post-season baseball, the team turtled. Management reverted to its shell and refused to take any form of a risk. The off season that followed was highlighted by the whopping deals of J.P. Arencibia’s departure and Dioner Navarro’s arrival. Despite glaring needs and links to several free agents, the Blue Jays remained quiet. Fans were left screaming for action. How can a team go “all in” with one deal and then fold every move after? It’s like management was scared off being gutsy because their first attempt didn’t go according to plan. Is that the passion needed to build and sustain a contender? We’ve always been told that when the team is performing well, there is flexibility to make deals and push for a playoff run. Well, this July was that time and nothing happened.
Instead, Alex Anthopoulos lived up to 50 Cent’s song “Window Shopper”, staring at shit he can’t buy. We keep hearing that he is working the phones and is probably busier than any other GM. If that is true, then what is going on? He “kicks the tires” on almost every player and tries to evaluate the market. But, why? Is it just for “due diligence”? (a phrase I am getting tired of hearing) AA is checking in on everyone, but never doing anything.
According to Anthopoulos, though, the prices were too high for any potential deals:
Gist of AA conference call: Prices for what they wanted too high, he’ll try to make a waiver deal in August. #BlueJays
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 31, 2014
Here’s a thought: What if other teams are shutting him out. Remember that AA wasn’t even given a chance to bid on Doug Fister this winter. OR, what if other teams are realizing that he is a window shopper and prefer to deal with other GM’s (like Billy Beane) who are actually going to shop? It would make sense. Why deal with someone who is never really going to buy anything anyway? Is he gun shy? Or, is he being controlled by a higher authority? Either way, there is no passion in playing it safe. In baseball, I am not so sure there is such a thing as playing it safe. Fans are screaming for a winner and all they see is caution. Other teams are putting the pedal to the metal and the Blue Jays are coasting with their hazard lights blinking. And, doesn’t “smart baseball” follow the method of adding a difference maker at the trade deadline? Remember David Cone?
To me, it’s easy to blame everyone else. ‘They were asking too much for trade X’. ‘Free Agent Y is asking too many years or too many dollars’. Are they really? Or, are they just asking the going rate? Is there a certain cost of doing business? Are the Blue Jays just being cheap? Is their refusal to meet demands costing them?
Most of us have heard that ANY deal would have cost one of (or both) Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. This idea makes me uncomfortable. But, is it enough to scare me off a Jon Lester? The question is, do we want a better shot at winning now, when we are so close? Or, later in the hopes that these studs will lead us to the promised land? I’m OK with waiting if that is the plan. These two young guns look like the real deal. But, why try and sell fans on this small window of contention that Paul Beeston threw out there? Apparently, the goal is to win now. That would explain the Miami deal. But, why stop there? You have the resources (players and money) to make just about any deal. So, what is the hold up? Are we “all in” or not? The Blue Jays can’t have it both ways. Either they are passionate about winning, or they aren’t. Right now, it seems that they can’t decide.
I’m not as easily convinced to buy in to the “Wait for Young Studs to Mature” philosophy. So much can go wrong. Remember Ricky Romero? What about Brett Cecil? How many top prospects have come up and fizzled out or ended up in different roles? Or, hurt themselves. Remember Mark Prior? I don’t feel comfortable in ‘what ifs’.
I’d feel better if the Blue Jays would give their all to field the team. If they are really in it to win it, then act like it. If they are trying to build a foundation with young studs, then get rid of the contracts of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle et al. Stop floating around in baseball purgatory. Choose a path and believe in it whole heartedly; give it everything you’ve got. Passion breads passion. Remember how passionate fans were 20 years ago?
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