Thursday, November 22, 2012

Finally!

Alex Anthopoulos has done it now. As a friend told me, “He must have listened to you.” AA has filled the holes in the Jays lineup I outlined last post. He has single handedly improved the Jays and nearly doubled the payroll. Wow! As a fan, I have complained about the years it has taken to build this team to a competitive level. A five year plan turns into eight years and then three more years. All that stops now. All the positions have improved. One trade idea leads to another and we now have the biggest trade since 1991. Twelve players, and the Jays came out ahead. AA has beaten the Yanks and other buyers –like the Orioles– to the punch with this fire sale. Good for him.

In making this “Blockbuster” trade –Wayne Huizenga is still there at 5%– AA has given up good future prospects like Justin Nicolini and Anthony DeSclafani.  He also traded good, up and coming players like Adeiny Hechavarria and Henderson Alvarez. You trade good for good, move what you can for what you need. As for Yunel Escobar, good riddance.

The new guys from the fish are better. Both pitchers are All-Stars. Mark Buehrle is 38 with a career ERA of 3.82 and ERA+ of 119. Don’t forget he has post season experience with the White Sox. Josh Johnson, an eight year veteran, has an ERA of 3.15 and ERA+ of 133.  Together they make a good one-two punch to help Romero and Morrow. We still need and want more, but the starting rotation is much improved.

The position players are also much improved. Jose Reyes at SS had a BA of .291 and OPS+ of 107 and 184 hits last year. Emilio Bonifacio, a six year veteran, is slated for second base. This is not his usual position –played only three times last year– but he is again the same player as Kelly Johnson and Aaron Hill. Bonifacio’s BA in 2012 was .258 and Johnson's .225. Johnson might wind up with the Orioles. To back up Bonifacio is Maicer Izturis from the Angels. This would make a good platoon situation for Gibbons. John Buck is back as the second catcher, as before –they have four on the 40 man roster now. I hope he has a better year than 2012. I hope he can find the life he once had with the Jays when he hit 20 HR’s, the best year of his career. Good defense, though, and why he is here. Jeff Mathis went to the fish. He did a very good job here. I wish him well.

Next is much maligned outfielder Melky Cabrera. Signed off free agency from the Giants, he will be watched very closely. He will want to be the best he can be to wash away those PEDs. Even with this, I think that AA has made a good pick here. Cabrera has no choice, he must perform without the PEDs and this will be his best and last chance to prove he is capable as a pro. He should be the left fielder of the future for the Jays. He can hit.

John Gibbons is now the manager. I had no idea he was on AA’s radar. As I have put forth before, I think the Jays need someone who can lead the young guys and have the respect of the veterans. I am not convinced that the hiring of John Gibbons is nothing more than a feel good situation for AA. After his huge week of roster changes, AA needs a comfort zone and Gibby is it for him. Gibbons had been very friendly with both Ricciardi and AA in the past.

Gibbons went 305/305 for his tenure and had the last second place finish in 2006. This was also when Roy Halliday was at his peak and by himself elevated the record of the whole team. Gibbons big job is to select his staff. I am not sure that hiring his buddies from the last time here is the way to go. Some of them are free to take a job here. But, is it time for him to “go for it” like Paul Beeston said? I think so.

Gibbons had better know how to handle the high-priced talent and not have the same clubhouse and on field antics as last time, even though it was not all his fault. Ted Lilly went 15/13 in 2006 but did not respect the manager when Gibby took him out a game. With Shea Hildebrand he had fisticuffs in the dugout. We have had enough of cliques and bad blood in the clubhouse already this past season. Hildebrand, retired after the next season, now, has nothing but praise for Gibby.

So that is past. Can John Gibbons command the respect needed to control this diverse and newly formed team? John Farrell apparently could not in 2012. I sure hope so and AA is banking on it. This time Gibby has the tools to produce a competitive team. Hope he has the ideas to make it all happen. I am waiting for the dog-days of August, late in the season, when things get very tense, to find out who is really in control of this team. Hope there is nothing to discuss and that September games are meaningful.

I hear that the players respect Gibbons but..... only time will tell.

For me, I am ready to put my money where their mouth is. The Yanks and Red Sox are question marks. The Orioles need to improve. We never beat the Rays anyway. The Tigers are making noise, and so they should, after the Series they had. We still need more pitching. Will RA Dickey be the next piece? Is AA finished? I don’t think so. Some of these pieces may wind up like Mike Aviles and be shuffled off for other pieces.
AA has sure surprised us, and for the good.

Next season will be tough. Too bad. Go for it. Go for it now.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

So I take it you generally approve of what's been done?

;)