The Toronto Blue Jays are 91 games into their 2012 season and I feel like we know nothing about them.
Or, maybe, we know everything about this team.
Maybe the hopes that the fanbase had in April after a dynamite spring training, the hopes that this was the year that the Jays would contend, were far-fetched all along.
Maybe the fact that Alex Anthopoulos was seemingly putting the pieces together for a run in 2013/2014 should have told us that 2012 was not going to be the year.
Maybe this team, this group of 25 men, are exactly what they appear to be – a .500 ballclub whose season is slipping away.
Because that is exactly what it feels like right now.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not giving up on 2012. There is still a little part of me that truly believes that the Jays will give a big “eff
you” to logic and convention and rip off a 10 or 11 game winning streak without Jose Bautista in the lineup. The optimist in me sees that despite a 45-46 record and a residency in the basement of the AL East, Toronto still has a +18 run differential and are only two games back of the second wild card.
But then I think this: there are five teams in between that second wild card spot and the Blue Jays.
Then I think this: the Jays never for one second looked like they were going to beat the Yankees yesterday. Never.
And then I think this: if this team was basically a .500 team in April (which they were), when they were at full strength (which they were), how could they be better now, without Kyle Drabek, Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison, Luis Perez, Sergio Santos, and Jose Bautista? How?
The truly honest answer that I have to that question is simple – I don’t know.
Logic says that Toronto will lose more games than they win going forward. You simply can’t get better when your best player is missing. It doesn’t work that way.
So, going by baseball logic at this time of the year, the Blue Jays should really become sellers, move some assets to contenders and bring back some potentially valuable pieces for the future.
Except, here’s the rub: what do the Jays have to sell, and what do they need for the future?
They need help in LF, but they have a potentially useful LF in Vegas in Travis Snider (who I still believe will get a shot before it’s all said and done). And going after a Justin Upton type player isn’t selling – that’s buying. They need pitching? Yes, but the farm system is already stocked with pitching prospects.
And looking at the current roster, who could be traded? There are guys out there who we want to see traded (Rajai Davis, Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero), but those guys have little to no value on the market. Maybe Davis can net something small due to his speed and pinch running potential, but that’s it. No, the only guys I see that hold real value are as follows:
Casey Janssen – he’s been lights out in the closers role and would help anybody’s bullpen
Yunel Escobar – a great fielder who has somewhat underperformed at the plate, but is on a relatively team friendly contract
Darren Oliver – unreal as a setup man, and should likely be coveted by a few contenders
But answer me this, oh loyal readers: why would we want to trade ANY of these guys? If the plan all along was to build for 2013 and beyond (which is what I gather from AA that it was), wouldn’t we want a dominant closer to assist / push / provide insurance for Santos, a solid SS on a team friendly contract, and an outstanding lefty setup man on the team next year?
Imagine this scenario: fast forward to July 2013 and Toronto is tied for the AL East lead with New York. With the trade deadline a week away,
AA is looking to add a few pieces to the team, including a dominant lefty setup man, and a solid reliever to provide insurance for Santos. The fans who will be slamming him in the next few weeks if he DOESN”T move Janssen / Escobar / Oliver, will likely be slamming him next year because he DID move them and now he’s looking to acquire something similar.
So, for as far as what happens now? I say nothing. Don’t sell. Don’t buy. Just stay the course.
One would think that a team that was built to contend in 2013 should contend in 2013.
Not in 2012.