Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Rocking the boat
At various points during my blogging "career" (cue laugh track...), I've been accused of being an Anthopoulos fanboy, lapping up his every move and refusing to criticize even the smallest of missteps.
And you know, there's perhaps an ugly element of truth to that in the sense that I've believed for quite some time that he's earned the benefit of the doubt from past transactions of brilliance (the Vernon Wells contract, the Rasmus trade, gaming the system with the Olivo deal, etc) in the sense that even if some moves didn't quite work out (Francisco vs Napoli), you could understand the logic going into the deals.
I have, however, always maintained that when I saw moves or trends I didn't like, surely I wouldn't hesitate to say so. As if that means anything. I'm just a fan like any of you reading this. But friends, I can't shake the feeling that I might be staring dead into that moment even if I'm afraid to acknowledge it.
And it's not even about the Snider trade, or more specifically, the handling of Snider throughout his career with AA being the one dealt the unfortunate duty of finally putting ol' Lunchbox out of his Blue Jay misery. It's not necessarily about trades he didn't make at the deadline either, because how the hell do I know what was out there, you know? Maybe Theo said "I need all of the Lansing 3 for Garza or no deal." I'd walk away from that conversation too. And I know that's where this entire line of thought I'm confessing probably breaks down, probably maybe.
But I'm starting to question just what exactly is the plan or philosophy - or maybe timeline - in putting together the playoff team that we've all craved since 1993. And that's big for me, because it's never even crossed my mind that there wasn't a grand vision in place to pull this thing together.
Build the system into one of the game's best, lock up the talent, then supplement the roster to championship calibre through trades (using said system) and free agency to add the final "over the top" pieces. From where I sit, it kinda sorta maybe seems like that plan - which is perfect in it's obvious simplicity - is starting to break down.
The seeds were planted last winter, when mismanaged messages from the entire Blue Jays organization allowed the rabid fanbase to believe that there was money to spend and spend they would. Perhaps not necessarily through fault of their own - though the "money will be there" line of talk from Beeston rang in our ears - the mainstream media jumped all over it and the Jays did nothing to quell that false hope until it was too late.
But that's OK, there was still the trade route, stated as the preferred method of building this roster. Free agency was the last step in adding the final piece anyway. Aaaand the winter meetings came and went with nary a splash (save for Santos). But that's OK, the team preferred to make moves in-season, with teams being ready to deal at the trade deadline, a time more conducive to pushing around pieces of the puzzle.
And here we are. Where exactly are we again?
Seemingly not yet willing to spend and not willing to pay the premiums in prospect currency through trade. Neither nearer nor further from contention, in my humble estimation. A rotation full of holes, a few big bats missing in left field and first base/DH, and a question mark at second base. The bullpen has been worked and reworked again, and we can count on cornerstone everyday players like Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion (who knew?)... and Jose Bautista. Of course, the great 32 year old Jose Bautista. The same age as Roy Halladay when he begged his way out of town, deeming the team too far from contention.
Make no mistake, I'm still in the can for Alex Anthopoulos. He's among the brightest of lights in league exec offices and I wouldn't trade his chair for any other in the league. There are still a whole lot of positives in the organization, at the big league level and down on the farm. Surely there's enough already to build the base of the next Toronto Blue Jays playoff team... at some point down the road.
But 32 year old superstars typically don't have that many superstar years left in them, and what a shame that would be to waste another prime like this one.