If The Blue Jays Become Buyers

The Blue Jays are 24-17, five games back in the AL East.  They're only two back of the Yankees for the wild card lead.  The Jays have gotten this far based on middle of the pack pitching and a powerful offense.  Their runs scored and allowed totals back up the .585 winning percentage, suggesting this team really can win 90+ games.

This was expected to be a consolidation year for the Blue Jays – set the bargain-basement rotation loose, let Travis Snider develop, trade away veteran relievers.  Instead, rookie GM Alex Anthopoulos has to be considering making midseason upgrades for a once-improbable playoff run.

The offense has three glaring issues: designated hitter, first base, and second base.  In other words, Adam Lind, Lyle Overbay, and Aaron Hill have disappointed, and it is to some extent balancing out surprising contributions by other hitters.  We're talking of samples of less than 200 plate appearances for each, so it's very possible the best course of action is to just give each player more time to rediscover his 2009 form. 

Overbay, a free agent after the season, would be the easiest to replace if he doesn't improve in the next month.  We're not sure yet if game-changers like Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez will be available at the trade deadline, but acquiring either would require a radical departure from Anthopoulos' plan.  It'd also block Brett Wallace (.309/.369/.612 at Triple A) through 2011.  Calling up Wallace to replace Overbay might provide a sufficient upgrade.  Otherwise, the Jays could target more reasonable first base rentals such as Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, or Lance Berkman.

A rotation reinforcement to back up the ace performances of Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero would help.  Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow have shown enough promise that one veteran addition might be enough.  Jesse Litsch could be an in-house addition next month.  Still, the cost to acquire Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, Brandon Webb, or Brett Myers wouldn't be high, as opposed to the Roy Oswalt/Cliff Lee range.  The Jays' bullpen hasn't been great, but Jason Frasor appears to be back on track and they've got good arms at the back end.

The Blue Jays have to be treated as potential buyers rather than sellers.  There are plenty of options to upgrade the club in 2010 without abandoning the long-term plan.


35 Responses to If The Blue Jays Become Buyers Leave a Reply

  1. Conversely – what better time to sell high?
    Stay the course Alex.

  2. I don’t know. For some reason I just don’t see them doing much in the way of a big trade. I think if they make it, it will largely be because of the guys you see there now.

  3. danoconnor19 5 years ago

    Lind and Hill are both gamers who will turn it around sooner than later. If Gonzalez, Buck, Lewis and Snider can continue this type of year, then I truly feel like the Jays can ‘stick around’ the playoff picture for awhile.

    Of the players mentioned, I love the idea of the Jays possibly pursuing Milwood as a rental player down the stretch. He’s a bulldog who gets guys out, and he’d add a ton of veteran presence to a very young clubhouse.

    All of that being said though, a lot needs to go right STILL for the Jays to be buyers come mid-season.

  4. iains 5 years ago

    I suspect if Anthopoulos does anything it will be by acquiring someone under valued like Fred Lewis. So far his army of scouts have done a good job of finding those pieces being overlooked. I can just see GMs all around quickly hitting the mute button when AA mentions someone’s name and everyone scrambles.

  5. Agree with the poster above. Stay the course, let this year play out, see how the guys they have handle the pressure. Lind and Hill will e fine. If they upgrade, do it from within – add a Wallace to the mix. Litsch, Rzep, Tallet and Mills are all in AAA to cover the pitching, with Drabek and Stewart not far away.

  6. gs01 5 years ago

    They had a hot start last year too and failed miserably once they started playing teams from the East, I expect this year will be no different. They’re already just 1-5 against the Red Sox, next month will be the true test because they start playing the Yankees and Rays frequently.

  7. Jeff S 5 years ago

    The fact that this is even being talked about makes me happy to be a Blue Jays fan. The future is bright…

  8. jaysfantilldeath 5 years ago

    Stay the course AA, overbay for Wallace is an easy decision. Perhaps cut loose a reliever or two but unless the addition is meant to improve the long run as well I hope he doesn’t do anything drastic.

  9. jeffdg 5 years ago

    Looks at their hitting stats gentlemen — they cannot possibly continue winning by hitting only extra base hits. And they cant possibly continue hitting so many extra base hits. Like every team, they will see additional injuries to their pitching staff, and they dont have the depth to handle it.

    Nice start, happy to see it, it wont continue.

  10. bjsguess 5 years ago

    The Jays have played great baseball so far this year – exceeding virtually all expectations. But, this isn’t unchartered territory for the Jays. Just look at last year …This day in 2009 – Jays were 27-15 / run diff +59 (2nd best in baseball)Last day of 2009 – Jays were 75-87 / run diff +27I’m not suggesting that the Jays will tank like they did last year. I am suggesting that when a team outplays their talent level and they are in a division that features 3 really good teams (not including the Jays) it’s going to be difficult to keep up this success. Maybe this is an 85 win team. That won’t be good enough though to snag the WC.

  11. Just_MLB 5 years ago

    …just want to say that this brings a smile to my face. im loving how the rays/twins/jays can compete on a fraction of what the yanks/sox pay their squad.

    and fyi – im a new yorker

    • ReverendBlack 5 years ago

      This is worth echoing. I don’t see them having any legitimate shot at the playoffs, but I really enjoy any team playing good baseball and upsetting the established order.

  12. bjays 5 years ago

    It’s way too early in the season to even fathem the idea of the Jay’s being “buyers”… I strongly believe that AA will take the strong starts from Bautista, Gonzalez and Gregg and turn them into trade bait.
    Also the Jays will likely crumble in June when they start playing the Sox, Ray and Yankee more frequently… just the reality of the sitaution.

  13. If the Jays are still in the thick of things a month from now, I don’t see why they wouldn’t make a few additions. A lot of the available names will mostly cost money, and it’s not like retaining Jason Frasor rather than trading him for a prospect really affects the rebuilding plan.

    • grant77 5 years ago

      Exactly right, Tim. Frasor and Downs will both net draft picks if they are kept anyways. I expect the Jays to offer arb to both if they are at normal levels.

    • That is an enormous if though. I have learned as a diehard Jays fan the past 12 years that if it looks like we are competing it is just a mirage and that within a month order will be restored and they will be back behind the Yankees and Red Sox (and in the last 3 years I have to include the Rays). I have no problem with keeping a few guys like Bautista, Gonzalez, Gregg, Downs and Frasor instead of trading them for marginal prospects. I would, however, have a big problem with going out and acquiring somebody for one of the Jays top 10 prospects. They cannot sacrifice the future because things look good on May 19th or even June 19th. If it is July 19th and you are holding down a playoff spot, then yeah, you should probably acquire something to increase your chances. However, even with this nice start the Jays prospects for a playoff spot go through New York and Tampa and there is no indication those teams will lay down this year. I hope you are right though.

      I really hope you revisit this topic in a month, so you can tell us you were right and they are competing (that would be a fantastic month for me) or that order was restored like so many people are predicting.

  14. andyfest 5 years ago

    This will turn out the same as last year. Last year at this point in the season, they had just given up first place in the East after an even better start than they’ve had this year.

    To date the Jays have only played 12 games against the AL East and are 5-7 against those teams (including a sweep of the O’s). They have yet to play the Yankees and have played the Rays only once. About half of their final 121 games will be against other East teams so it’s a rough road ahead. I hope I’m wrong but ending the season with 85 wins is going to be tough for this team.

  15. scott_hayter 5 years ago

    I love the Jays, but any talk of a playoff push is wildly optimistic. They should keep aiming for 2012-2014, and use the hot (and probably unsustainable) starts of gonzalez, buck, Gregg, and bautista (all of whom have less than 2 seasons left under contract). Overbay probably can’t be traded at this point, so you may have to let him walk at the end of the season.

  16. I really hope the Jays brass doesn’t think they are a serious contender, it’s great that they have played well over an easy initial schedule, but it is important to stay the course. The biggest mistake the last regime made was fooling themselves into thinking they had a team to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox and were buyers rather than sellers.

  17. Aquamelli 5 years ago

    We haven’t even played the Yankees yet… we are 1-5 against Boston and 1-2 against Tampa. This talk of being buyers is a little ridiculous in my opinion. Personally I would like to see AA trade away Downs, Frasor, Gregg, E5, and/or Overbay (if he has value) during the season and continue to build our farm system. This is how Pat Gillick did it everywhere he has been… and that’s how we should continue to do it. Build the farm and develop them… easy equation.

    • Exactly – stock the farm by selling high (or even) on the 25 man roster. You won’t get A+ talent, but you’ll certainly get to re-stock your minors, and even test the new scouting regime. If they can hold on for .500 baseball this next month, Alex A’s golden introduction year will only get better when he is able to reshape the farm *and* the 40 man rosters in 12 months. If it was my job on the line, i’d like to make my own mistakes and get fired, than be saddled with someone elses.
      You think the owners would move all the games to their own station mid season creating confusion just thinking this year they spend? No way – the push is on for 2011, and the Aug/Sept callups will build the excitement for the TV and the team. Wallace, Drabek, Hechavaria, Arencibia, Zep, Litsch, Collins with Hill, Lind Snider, Wells, Lewis, Morrow, Romero, Marcum – I bet you they’ll be back to putting pictures up on the windows of the Rogers Center again next year :)

  18. Guest 5 years ago

    how many of those losses to boston were 1-run losses? I think at least 4 of them? Fair enough, they’re losses, but let’s not all freak out about how horrible the Jays played against Boston this year.

    • 3 1 run losses, 1 2 run loss, one Eveland epic fail that the offense didn’t almost bail him out of, and a 1 run win.

  19. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    Not if it costs you any chance of meaningful games in the next two or more Septembers.

  20. BoSoxSam 5 years ago

    Sorry, but I’d like some evidence that the Red Sox have a worse offense than Toronto. Looking at some team stats, the Red Sox have a better OPS by .024, 34 more hits, 33 more walks, 62 fewer strikeouts, a better OBP by .031, and a better average by .026. The Jays only have advantages in home runs (by 10, Red Sox are second best in MLB), SLG (by .012, Red Sox third best in MLB), TB (by 20, Red Sox second best in MLB), RBI (by 5, Red Sox third best in MLB), and doubles (by 16, Red Sox third best in MLB). Obviously there are other stats, but I thought those were enough to make a point. Jays have slight advantages in a couple places, but the Red Sox are barely behind them, and the categories the Red Sox lead the Jays, they lead by a much wider margin.

    Now, you could make the argument that the Red Sox’s offense doesn’t have as much staying power, that they will regress more as the season goes on. However, I’ll strongly disagree with it. 😛 The Red Sox are missing two important cogs of their offense: Ellsbury and Cameron. Ortiz had another April where he basically didn’t exist. Drew and V-Mart had similarly slow starts. And the only guys I can think of that had unusually hot starts they can’t maintain would be the role players, like McDonald, or V-Tek, or Hermida. You’ve got a lot of things working for you right now; people like Gonzalez and Bautista are hitting way past their expected performance. Wells has had a resurgence, who knows how long that’ll last. Yes you’ve had a couple slow starters too, but I don’t see many gaping holes due to injury that is slowing your offense as well. I think it’s pretty clear to most everyone that Boston has an offense that can continue this production, maybe even improve it, while Toronto will surely regress.

    And to say the Jays have as good overall rotation as NY or Tampa….that’s just crazy. Sorry. The Yanks and Rays have some REALLY good pitching going right now (although NY is showing weakness). And while Romero has had a decent year, that pitching staff is not strong enough to battle those guys out for a full year.

  21. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    “Blue Jays are far from competing.40 games into the season is still a small sample size.”

    No, the Jays ARE competing. But because it’s a small sample size and because other teams have better hitting & pitching, they are unlikely to continue to compete.

    The improbability of a team sustaining its success shouldn’t ever count against its current success. If anything, it should make that success more impressive.

  22. There are many teams right now looking for bullpen help and complaining that none is available, I don’t understand why the Jays wouldn’t take advantage of this, it is clearly a sellers market for teams with bullpen pitchers. Also, if Bautista has 25 home runs at the trade deadline, you can’t tell me he wouldn’t draw interest given his position flexibility.You may be right in that they may not be able to get anything for these guys, however, if they are offered a deal that makes sense, I sure hope they wouldn’t turn it down because of this early season success.

  23. TwinsVet 5 years ago

    The mere fact that the Jays offense can even be in the same conversation with the Red Sox offense tells me one thing: There’s serious problems with Boston’s offense.

  24. Next year Romero could blow out his labrum, or Hechavarria could take two years to become major league ready. Making a move this year wouldn’t make competing next year impossible, just more expensive. The extra attendance from taking this year seriously will pay for it.

  25. I’m trying to think of a single deadline acquisition JP made.

  26. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    Very obviously, that depends on what move(s) are made.

    Making a move doesn’t NECESSARILY decrease the Jays’ chances in the next few. But they’re not going to be making purchases from a free agent pool; they’ll be trading. It isn’t just a question of cash by any means. Any high-caliber move will require an exchange of young developing talent on which the Jays’ future success currently depends. I’m not explaining anything you don’t already know am I?

    That Romero or anyone else could get injured is always true; it’s not worth factoring in. As with any other realm of human knowledge, you operate on probabilistic reasoning.

    If there are makeable moves which are mostly money and don’t sacrifice much young talent, sure why not. But “I wanna see a race this September” itself is too shortsighted. The Jays have plenty of promising young talent and a staff prepared to accumulate & develop more of it. Emerging as a perennial contender in the AL east takes a hell of a lot more patience & strategy than pulling a Marlins once a decade but is surely preferable.

  27. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    And Dallas Braden is Cy Young.

    Having said that, the “serious problem” with Boston’s offense (injuries aside) is that it’s showing up inconsistently. If the staff were pitching as it was and should have been expected to, the offense wouldn’t get much grief.

  28. BoSoxSam 5 years ago

    Nah, I don’t think so. Check the stats; currently the Red Sox and Blue Jays are two of the best offenses in MLB right now. True, if we’re talking over the course of the season, that doesn’t bode well for Boston. But at this moment, the Blue Jays lead the majors in numbers like total bases and home runs, while Boston is right up there in the top 5 of almost every category. (my favorite one, btw: Boston has seen the most pitches, at 6500. :D) Also, like Reverend said down below, if the pitching staff was performing as expected, the offense wouldn’t be getting any of these complaints.

  29. ReverendBlack 5 years ago

    Actually what happened was this: Twinsvet said “there’s serious problems with Boston’s offense”.

    You then replied to his comment by saying “Our offense seemed pretty fine yesterday afternoon.”

    I then made a joke about assessing any player or team’s ability to do anything based on one game.

    Now apparently when you defended “your” team’s offense in response to Twinsvet’s comment about the Red Sox, you were talking about the Jays. I’m not sure how you expected anyone to know that or why you were even talking about the Jays in response to his comment about the Red sox, but hey, alright!

    The joke I made about a one game sample size still stands and is relevant, though. One game doesn’t prove anything about anybody. Swing & RBI double imo.

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