Toronto Heating the Stove Early
Every offseason, there’s one team that goes a little mad.
It’s as if a front office, after countless years of mediocrity, suddenly snaps and thinks, “Ah, hell, we’ll just try and buy an effin’ championship.” I say “snaps” because it comes out of the blue. These teams aren’t the Yankees or even, more recently, the Red Sox. The payroll they’re adding is usually not there. Or, if it is, it’s certainly not so high.
Last year, it was the Angels with an honorable mention perhaps going to the Marlins and Tigers. This year? It’s certainly looking like it’s the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just a few days ago, the Blue Jays were on the receiving end of what I can only believe was a tragic accident resulting from Jeffrey Loria and David Samson going off their medication. In return for some admittedly top-notch prospects, Toronto got Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and others.
Finishing with 73 wins with an injury-ravaged roster, it’s conceivable that that roster bump alone, assuming they stayed healthy, could’ve given the Jays another 20 or so wins and make them a postseason team.
But Toronto showed they weren’t stopping there, and news broke yesterday that Melky Cabrera has reportedly inked a deal with the club.
I could give you the financial figures of the contract and we could debate whether or not it was fair all the way through Spring Training, but the fact is that it doesn’t matter. There’s no salary cap and pro baseball and there appears to be no budget north of the border.
What the Blue Jays are getting in return, though, is a very scary team. Here’s a tentative look at the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays as they’re currently assembled:
C – J.P. Arencibia
1B – Edwin Encarnacion
2B – Adeiny Hechavarria
SS – Jose Reyes
3B – Brett Lawrie
LF – Melky Cabrera
CF – Colby Rasmus
RF – Jose Bautista
DH – Adam Lind
SP – Ricky Romero
SP – Josh Johnson
SP – Brandon Morrow
SP – Mark Buehrle
SP – Henderson Alvarez
That’s a potent lineup, to say the least. There’s really only one relatively easy out in that lineup (Hechavarria) and the pitching rotation is absolutely ridiculous. Just imagine that rotation in the postseason — assuming they make it — as they drop Alvarez and go four-wide with Romero, Johnson, Morrow, and Buehrle.
Of course, the trade with the Marlins is still pending, but I’d be pretty surprised if it doesn’t go through.
Here’s the crazy thing, though: it’s November 17th. We’re not even to Thanksgiving, people, and the Blue Jays have already made the kind of moves that would make them the winner of an entire offseason.
We’re still two and a half weeks away from the Winter Meetings. What kind of wheeling and dealing will we seen THEN?
The Blue Jays now have a surplus of outfielders and don’t be surprised to see some names get dealt. That fearsome trio of Cabrera, Rasmus, and Bautista leaves Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis on the bench, both of whom are starting-caliber ballplayers, depending on the team.
And that’s just trades. With the money Toronto is dropping, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays aren’t done on the free agency market, either.
There are so many All-Star-Caliber players on this roster now, Hechavarria and Alvarez sort of stick out like sore thumbs.
At second base, there’s not a lot much better than Maicer Izturis (who Toronto signed on November 8th) out there, but who knows? How awesome would it be if, dare I say it, they signed Marco Scutaro?
For that fifth spot in the rotation, Henderson Alvarez is more than serviceable. But if the Blue Jays really wanted to have an embarrassment of riches, someone like a Joe Saunders would be a nice touch. Or, who knows, maybe they take a flyer on a fall-from-grace guy like Francisco Liriano or Ben Sheets? With those four starters they already have, you can afford to take a chance on a risky arm.
And that’s not even mentioning the bullpen. Casey Janssen is decent, but there’s always room for improvement. And, I’m just saying, Jonathan Broxton is floating out there. Nudge nudge.
Now, this is all fun for us to play armchair GM with, but the fact of the matter is buying big names doesn’t guarantee you a seat in the Fall Classic. Remember those big buyers last offseason I talked about? Two didn’t make the playoffs and one had an outright miserable season. Not only that, but the team with the best record in baseball, the Nationals, were comprised of mostly home-grown talent. The same is true for those world champion Giants, as well.
Baseball games aren’t won on paper, they’re won on diamonds. But in these hot stove months of November and December, paper is all we have to go off of.
And, on paper, next year’s Blue Jays look good. Scary good.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for MLB updates and other shenanigans!
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