Week 17 (July 26 – August 1) was supposed to be a whirlwind for the Jays. With the trade deadline set for 4 PM on Saturday, the Jays were thought to be big players. Instead, Anthopoulos kept the core together, a controversial move at best.
On the field, however, it was a solid week. Returning home for the first time since the All-Star break, the Jays continued their domination of Baltimore by sweeping them for the fourth straight series. Though they dropped two of three to Cleveland, a 4-2 homestand is nothing to be upset about. Things get much tougher from here though – starting on Monday in New York, Toronto plays 38 consecutive games against teams .500 or better. This may mark a true test as to how good this year’s team actually is.
Here are three things that we learned in week 17:
1. Stand Pat
With all kinds of rumours swirling around the team, it was kind of surprising to me that nothing much happened at the deadline. John Buck, Lyle Overbay, Jose Bautista, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Edwin Encarnacion are all still members of the Jays. The only thing more surprising than that was the fact that Toronto unloaded what many believe to be their best prospect – power hitting first baseman Brett Wallace to the Astros for minor league outfielder Anthony Gose (more on that below).
The only comment I can make on Toronto’s deadline activity other than surprise is trust, as in I trust GM Alex Anthopoulos. Judging by the success of this year’s team (54 – 51 through 105 games, whereas last year’s version had faded to 51 – 54 through 105 games) Anthopoulos has to get some credit for his personnel decisions. Yes, there will be critics who will say he should have capitalized on his assets while they are at maximum value. Yes, there will be critics who will say Buck and Bautista will never hit this well again. But they were signed at a relative bargain, and trading them would have – like it or not – put the Jays a few steps back on where they want to be.
Of course, players can still get traded in August after clearing waivers so this discussion may be moot. I have no idea what the grand, master plan of the GM will turn out to be, but…so far so good.
2. Gone Before We Knew Him
One of the most suprising deals made by AA was the Wallace deal. Most everybody in the Blue Jays world – bloggers, and beat writers alike – seemed to be enamoured with the young slugger, already writing Overbay out of town and picturing Wallace bombing home runs in Toronto for years to come. Now he’s gone, with a grand total of zero games played for Toronto at the MLB level.
On the surface it seems puzzling, but by all accounts Anthopoulos may have wanted Gose as part of the Halladay deal more than Wallace. A quick look at their minor league stats and it’s hard to imagine why:
Wallace (triple-A): .301 average, 18 HR, 61 RBI, .868 OPS
Gose (single-A): .265 average, 5 HR, 21 RBI, .714 OPS
It is extremely hard to post judgement on minor league deals in baseball, so I withhold mine. But please refer to point 1 above to see two items: 1) AA may not be finished dealing with the August deadline still out there, and 2) I trust him.
3. Bautista Appreciation Society
One man who is extremely happy about Toronto not trading Jose Bautista is our friend at Blue Jay Hunter who has coined the term BAS for Bautista Appreciation Society. After watching Bautista pulverize pitching over the past week, I think we all should be happy he is still mashing pitching for the Jays. Check out his statistics for week 17, for which he was given the AL Player of the Week award:
12-22, .545 average, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 5 BB: 1 K, .630 OBP, 1.993 OPS
Increase the sample size to include all games since the All-Star break and his surge is even more impressive: .369 average, 8 HR, 24 RBI, 1.277 OPS. He has now hit 42 home runs dating back to September 1 of last year, leads all of baseball in HR with 32 (5 ahead of Canadian Joey Votto) and is fourth in baseball with 82 RBI. In addition he has 9 OF assists, which ties him for first in the majors – in only 73 games as an outfielder (about 20-25 games fewer than others).
In short, he has been incredible, and is still getting better.