Jays Win!... The Off-Season
Anytime a team goes from an also-ran 4th place finish to the odds-on World Series favourites in Las Vegas in the space of two months, the front office has clearly done something right. So it was with the Toronto Blue Jays this past winter.
Nobody hangs a banner for winning the off-season.
The undisputed winners of the off-season heading into 2011 were the Boston Red Sox, famously proclaimed as the "Best Team Ever." That didn't go so well.
Last year, The L.A. Angels "won" the off-season, signing the best available free agent hitter and pitcher. They later "won" the trade deadline, picking up Zack Greinke, and with Mike Trout's historic rookie season, they "won" just about everything except enough games to keep up with the minimum-wage Oakland A's.
So, cautious optimism for Blue Jays fans is probably in order. Granted, a lot MORE optimism than when the projected 2013 rotation was:
1. Ricky Romero (come on, he can't be this bad again, can he?)
2. Brandon Morrow
3. J.A. Happ
4. Hutchinson's coming back at some point, right?
5. Um.... Anybody have a health update on Jesse Litsch?
The most encouraging things about the flurry of offseason moves has less to do with the specific players involved and more to do with the principals behind them:
The Cupboard is Not Bare
Alex Anthopoulos cashed in a bunch of prospects to make these deals happen - but the Jays still have prospects. Anthony Gose and Aaron Sanchez are still here, as are a number of young arms, and the club will have a high draft pick (10th) this summer.
Albatross Free Zone
Sure, Jose Reyes looks pricey at $96 million for the 5 years left on his contract, but that's nothing
compared to a Prince Fielder or Pujolian deal. The Jays have maintained a lot of flexibility with their deals, and won't be regretting any ugly contracts in 2018.
Rogers Flexes Muscles
After years of hearing that "the money would be there" and simultaneously looking at our cell phone bills, Jays fans had to be glad to see ownership dip into its deep pockets. Rogers can spend with anyone in baseball, and while that shouldn't be an invitation to dole out any more Vernon Wells deals, willingness to spend certainly shouldn't hold the team back.
Not a One Year Wonder
This doesn't seem to be a one-year desperation push to contend. Rather, this seems like the beginning of a movement to collect the best players in baseball, much as the organization did in the late 80s and early 90s. With deep pockets, a reasonably young core and a vibrant player development system, this is a team that looks like it's about to enter a cycle of perpetual contention.
There may not be any trophies handed out for off-seasons, but that shouldn't prevent Jays fans rom getting very excited.
Labels: Blue Jays; R.A. Dickey; 2013; Alex Anthopoulos; off-season; Ricky Romero; Jose Reyes