Oooooo that’s right, another witty, pun title. Of course, these are everywhere when talking about this. Everything changed in about a half an hour. The feeling for the last few weeks as a Jays fan was “this organization is an embarrassment”. They seemingly had nobody interested in being the manager (except for Art Howe who as we all seen in that accurate movie Moneyball was just a headache for Billy Beane and the A’s had success in spite of him…), the free agent market is pretty bare so it didn’t look like they would have much luck landing the players they need going that route, and with the way the season ended it just seemed like this team was going nowhere.
Then around 6PM EST (4 MST) Jays fans everywhere went from being ashamed of their team to playoff expectations. That’s not a joke or an over exaggeration. Things have done a complete 180 for the Jays in less than 24 hours.
Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Jays for Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani. We thought the Dodgers/Red Sox deal in the summer was big. This one for the Jays is right up there with the Alomar and Carter deal. Who knows if it turns out as good as that one did, but it’s that big.
Alex Anthopoulos needed to do SOMETHING. As I was saying this team was going nowhere. Jays fans had completely lost faith in this organization and it happened over about a 3 months span, that’s a pretty dramatic swing in momentum! To pull this off is incredible, both from a baseball standpoint and a lucky standpoint, but incredible none the less.
I will start with Buehrle of all the guys. This was EXACTLY the type of pitcher this staff needed. A seasoned vet that still has something left. And you can’t get much more seasoned than Buehrle. World Series title, a perfect game, a no hitter, 9 seasons he has been the opening day starter, a 4 time all-star, 4 straight gold gloves, I don’t know how much more seasoning you can get. My expectation of him is to be the mentor of this staff. He can still be your number 2 or 3 guy who can give you 200 innings (has done so every year since 2001), but to me it’s more important that he help guys like Morrow, Romero, Drabek and Hutchinson take the next step.
Josh Johnson is a huge wild card in this. Johnson is an amazing DJ and you can check him out every Friday or Saturday night in Edmonton at such places as Mercer Tavern….ok, so that might be the 2nd time I’ve used that line, but get used to it now that Johnson is a Jay and my buddy Josh Johnson is a DJ and a beauty. For real though Johnson is a wild card because of his health obviously. When he is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. His velocity was down last season on his fastball from 95 mph to 93, but most believe he was pitching injured for much of last season. This is a guy who throws a good slider, change up and curveball and mixes his pitches well. Again, a lot hinges on his health but if he can remain healthy the Jays have their ace. A positive for next season is that Johnson is pitching on the final year of his deal, the downside of course is that he could walk after the season.
Then of course we have the Jays new leadoff man Jose Reyes. I knew the Jays would have to dramatically improve the middle infield this offseason, I just didn’t think they would get the best middle infielder the franchise has had since Roberto Alomar left! Obviously different positions but a ton of similarities between Reyes and Alomar. Top of the lineup guys with a ton of speed, can hit for average and power, nowhere near what Alomar was defensively….you can’t win ’em all. But Reyes is a star make no mistake about it and is the prototypical leadoff man. Reyes, Lawrie, Bautista and Encarnacion is a pretty scary top of the order!
Bonifacio and Buck are obviously throw in’s here but they have some value. Bonifacio is a very valuable utility man who can play just about anywhere on the field and is great on the base paths. Buck had his best years with the Jays and while he doesn’t have a great stick he is still great behind the plate. In no way are these guys sexy in a deal that gets you 3 potential all-star’s, but these are the kind of sneaky pickups that can be huge late in the season.
As for what they gave up….for me Henderson Alvarez is the biggest loss. He wasn’t anything special last season, but has the talent to become scary good. However he looked as though he is still a few years away from anything like that. Hechavarria has a chance to be a good one. Good speed, good leather, but if you’re bringing in Reyes there is no spot for him. Marisnick is ranked 2nd on their prospect list according to Baseball America. But Ken Rosenthal tweeted last night about a scouts take on Marisnick and it read “He has a long way to go with the bat. Complicated swing.” And with the Jays youth in the OF they could afford to move him. Justin Nicolino was 5th on Baseball America’s list, but listening to Greg Zaun talk he really wasn’t anything special this season. In fact Zaun feels like Nicolino as well as the other “Lansing 3” pitchers are very overrated.
And then there is eveyone’s favorite Jay Yunel Escobar. I haven’t seen an Escobar this hated since Pablo! Ok so I guess Yunel doesn’t deserve THAT comparison, but he still deserves absolutely no respect. No matter what your views are politically, nobody can disagree what he did with his eye black was flat out stupid and for a 29 year old man to do something that! He is a disgrace, and it is a huge win for the Jays to unload this waste of talent on someone else. I know what you’re thinking and yes I am holding back how I really feel…
It is amazing how things can change for one organization with one deal. This easily could rank right up there as one of the biggest franchise altering moves in MLB history when it’s all said and done. The Jays have needed this kind of kick in the ass for a long time now but never desperate for it like they were this offseason. It’s a lot of money to take on, but the last time I checked Rogers doesn’t struggle for cash and if this deal brings the Jays back to an elite level then they will make it back at the gate. AA delivered when he needed to most. And he does it when it looks as though the Yankees may take a step back, and the Red Sox are trying to get back on their feet. Still will have the Orioles and Rays to contend with, the AL East is the toughest division in baseball. But they now have the talent to compete for a playoff spot and that is all Jays fans are asking for.
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