The MLB trade deadline is just over a week away, and while no big names have been moved yet, rumours are flying like crazy. As it stands right now, only three teams are more than ten games out of a playoff spot (Miami, Philadelphia, and Colorado), and a host of teams are still trying to decide if they are still viable contenders or not (here’s looking at you San Diego, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Chicago White Sox, Seattle, and on and on and on….).
All of this chaos means that the list of available players is both growing and shrinking by the day. Is Jeff Samardzija really available? What about David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Johnny Cueto, and Justin Upton? All of those guys are game changers, who carry with them the ability to vault a team into the postseason.
All of which brings us to the Blue Jays. Right now they sit exactly at .500, 48-48, 5.5 games back of the East leading Yankees, and 3 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card. They are close – closer than the Kansas City Royals were on this date last year – but not close enough for many. They are also, as presently constructed, a weaker team than any of the true heavyweights, including the Royals, Nationals, Cardinals, and Dodgers. But as we know about baseball and its postseason structure, the best team rarely wins the World Series, meaning all you have to do is get in and anything can happen.
So how do the Jays get in? Do they need a small move that can put them over the top without getting rid of top prospects (i.e. Mookie Wilson in ’89) or do they go for broke, raid the cupboard and bring in an All-Star (i.e. Cone in ’92 or Henderson in ’93)? There really isn’t a right answer, unless you are a truly passionate supporter of one path over the other. Luckily for all of you, 500 Level Fan was able to sit down with somebody from each side of the fence to hear their arguments. Jimmy is all-in in 2015: he wants Anthopoulos to go for it by making a huge splash at the deadline. Timmy thinks the team can sneak in as-is, with only a slight upgrade, one that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Needless to say, they disagree:
500 Level Fan: Jimmy – you told me you want the Jays to win and the only way they can do that is by making big moves. Why do you say that?
Jimmy: Look, I’m 27 years old. I was 5 when Joe Carter hit the home run in 1993, so to me that doesn’t count as Toronto winning in my lifetime. I want a World Series win where I can get drunk and go crazy on Yonge Street, not one where I’m bed at 8 pm. As they are right now, this team isn’t good enough, and picking up a guy like Mat Latos or Matt Garza doesn’t make us good enough. With the offense that we have, we should have close to 60 wins, but the pitching sucks. We need an ace. We need a Cueto, or Hamels, or Price.
Timmy: Yeah, that would be nice, but come on man – how can they get those guys? Hamels already said he’s not coming, and we’d have to give up a ton to get Cueto or Price.
Jimmy: I don’t care. I say do it.
Timmy: Even if it means Castro, Pompey, Hoffman, Pentecost and one of Stroman or Sanchez?
Jimmy: Yeah. Who cares?
Timmy: You’re crazy! You give up that package for Price or Cueto, and you get one shot this year, cause those guys ain’t re-signing in Toronto. And the playoffs are a crapshoot anyways, so there’s no guarantee.
Jimmy: You’re right, but look at it this way: you add Cueto to this team, or Price to this team, or both even, and everybody else in the rotation shifts down a spot. Suddenly guys who shouldn’t be up here, like Boyd or Doubront, are gone and Estrada is your #5 starter. With the way he’s been going, that’s a pretty good #5. In my mind, that adds a bunch of extra wins and gets us to the playoffs.
Timmy: But like I said, the playoffs are a crapshoot. No guarantee you get past the Wild Card round or LDS.
Jimmy: Listen to yourself. Like you just said, the playoffs are a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee you don’t get all the way to the World Series. Once you’re in, you’re in. Getting there is the hard part.
Timmy: So you’d rather this team give up all those prospects now and watch them develop into All Stars elsewhere?
Jimmy: Hey bud – how does Travis d’Arnaud look right now? How about Syndergaard? Oh – how good do Marisnick and Nicolino look?
Timmy: They’ve all been decent up to now, I’d say.
Jimmy: Exactly! They’ve all been decent! And we made those trades in what, 2012? So in 3 years, all those guys are just decent.
Timmy: So what’s your point?
Jimmy: My point is that in three years from now, we aren’t going to have Mark Buehrle going out there like a boss. We’re not going to have a core of guys at an elite level the way that EE, Bautista, Reyes, Martin, and Donaldson are now. By the time guys like Pompey and Hoffman and Castro and maybe even Sanchez develop to where they are elite, you now have holes at SS. 3B, RF, and C.
Timmy (shaking his head): So let me get this straight: you say trade everybody in the minors for 2 months of David Price?
Jimmy: Why not? It worked before in ’92. How many people do you hear complaining that the Jays traded away potential Hall of Famer Jeff Kent? Nobody, because WE WON THE FRICKIN’ WORLD SERIES BY DOING IT!
Timmy: So in your mind, you’d give away everybody to win this year, even if that means years of misery ahead?
Jimmy: Absolutely. What would you do?
Timmy: I don’t like having no hope. Sure I would love to win a World Series this year. I’d go ballistic. I’d probably run naked down Queen Street. But if winning this year meant losing 90 games next year, and then 100+ in 2017 and 2018, I don’t think I’d want it.
Jimmy: Why not? Flags fly forever man! So what would you do next week then to get to the playoffs?
Timmy: David Price would be great. So would Johnny Cueto. So would Hamels, or Papelbon, or Kazmir. But so would a guy like Mike Fiers, or a guy like Latos, or Tyson Ross, or even Mike Leake. They wouldn’t cost as much (certainly not a Stroman/Sanchez type, or even Pompey maybe), and would still be good enough to bump Doubront out and a few guys down. That could be enough to get us into the playoffs without the cost of the future.
Jimmy: So you’re telling me that Mike Leake will help us gain 5 games in the standings in two months? Mike freakin’ Leake? And you’re OK with that gamble???!!??!!
Timmy: Sure. Yes I am.
Jimmy: Well, you’re wrong, and here’s why you’re wrong. First of all, you’re wasting one of the greatest offenses baseball has seen in decades. Second of all, by doing that you are turning the Blue Jays into the Leafs. Well, actually, they already pretty much are the Leafs.
Jimmy: The Leafs were the worst kind of team for a decade. Just bad enough to miss the playoffs, but too good to get an amazing draft pick. Just think if they would have laid off guys like Lindros and Raycroft and Allison. Maybe they don’t finish 17th overall every year and miss the playoffs by 2 points, and instead they finish 28th or 29th or 30th overall, and get a chance to draft Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Hall, or Stamkos. Which, in hindsight, is what the Jays should have done a bunch of years ago. Instead of trying to compete in an impossible division with Boston and New York, just blow it up, and maybe get the chance to draft Strasburg, or Price, or Harper, instead of always getting that 18th-25th overall pick.
Timmy: You’re an idiot. That plan might work in hockey, but not baseball.
Timmy: You’re telling me that the Jays should gut their farm system for a huge ace, which means that the next few years will be really bad, but that’s OK because they will get good draft picks and become a contender again? Have you seen the baseball draft? It’s impossible!
Jimmy: Fair, but have you seen Kansas City and Houston? They sucked for years, and suddenly are now elite teams by – wait for it – stockpiling high draft picks. So the upside is you can win the World Series this year and then maybe rebuild if it even comes to that. The downside is that you give the fans a huge amount of hope in the last two months, build a ton of excitement, and fall just short. I’d much prefer either of those then another “ho-hum, let’s add Danny Valencia” trade deadline.
Timmy: Again – you’re an idiot.
At this point a few fingers were given, and Jimmy and Timmy walked away.
Gotta love Toronto sports fans!
So who’s side are you on: Jimmy or Timmy?