What a Run

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game FiveWhat an awful title.  This is going to be one of those blogs where I just go pretty corny about all this.  I think I did after the 2014 gold medal game in Sochi, and I did after the Bobcats playoff run that same season, and I’m sure a few other times.  They are well received, I just don’t know that they’re well written.  Anyway, here comes another one that everyone in Canada will be on board with.

 

Actually I’ll start with a corny little story.  So Thanksgiving Sunday, Jays are down 2-0 going into game 3 in Arlington.  I’m the biggest Jays fan in the family.  Just about everyone is a baseball fan, but I’m THE Jays fan.  Yet everyone there was 100% invested in that game.  All 11 of us there, sitting in my parents living room and a massive cheer when Tulowitzki hit that massive 3 run shot to essentially clinch that game.  The whole country was all in with this team.

 

So anyway, I’m starting this at 10:38 PM Friday night.  The loss is still VERY fresh.  But as I just texted to a few of my buddies, had you told me around July 25th or so that the Jays would make it to game 6 of the ALCS with runners at 2nd and 3rd and Donaldson up, I would have totally signed up for that!

 

It was all gravy after Texas.  Bautista’s home run in the bottom of the 7th simply felt like the signature moment of the season.  And it’s not like the ALCS was without it’s great moments.  Game 3’s offensive explosion.  Marco Estrada throwing that amazing 3 hitter in game 5 to keep the season alive.  And of course Bautista again tonight.  Should they have tied it in the 9th?  Yep.  At least 3 times in the game they should have cashed and didn’t.

 

Let’s be honest, there were far too many moments that were too big for the Jays bats.  Josh Donaldson for the most part got shutdown.  Ben Revere up until tonight gave them nothing from the lead off spot.  And Russell Martin…YIKES.  Russell Martin was without a doubt the worst Jay in the series and likely the playoffs.  Not just at the plate.  It took him until 2 homers in game 6 to figure out that David Price wasn’t putting the Royals away with his changeup.  I don’t think it was any coincidence that Marco Estrada was incredible with Dioneer Navarro behind the plate.  Martin is better defensively, and better at the plate.  But I would say Navarro calls the better game.

 

Of course there was also the Goins play in game 2 they got the Royals going.  That one hurts, because you know it should have been 3-2 Jays going into this game.  You don’t KNOW that, but we saw it all series.  That Royals lineup lived off momentum.

 

But you have to be honest about it, the Royals were the better team.  Much better suited for playoff baseball.  Contact hitters 1-9, and a crazy dominant bullpen.

 

I’ve seen great bullpens in the playoffs before.  Too young to remember physically watching the Nasty Boys for the Reds, but know all about them.  They were only 3 guys.  The 96 Yankees pen was great, especially with Rivera setting up and Wetteland as the closer.  02 Angels had a great pen, but outside of K-rod emerging that season and Troy Percival being a real good closer (not elite by that point), the pen wasn’t scaring anyone.  This Royals pen, without their closer Greg Holland, is amazing.  Unhittable for the most part.

 

So the Jays didn’t lose to a team they should have beat, they didn’t lose on a fluke play, they just got beat by a better team.  I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I know you all did too.

 

But life rolls on, and already I’m looking at next season.  You see, this won’t be the last time for the Jays.  They are set up for the long run, even with all the prospects shipped out at the deadline.  I fully expect Rogers to be willing to stretch the payroll to 150 million or more after the money they will have raked in this season.

 

So first question: Will David Price be re-signed?

I think it’s a lot closer than some do right now.  I would guess it’s 50/50.  Off the top of my head I would say the Cubs and Dodgers will be hard after him.  But what the Jays have going is that he isn’t the only pitcher available in free agency.  Far from it.  Zach Grienke, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija, there are a ton of either quality arms or intriguing arms available.  So if they choose not to re-sign Price, I doubt Jays fans will have to worry.  Add to all this, 20 million is coming off the books with Buehrle and possibly another 12 million if they choose not to pickup the option on R.A. Dickey.

 

Will they re-sign Marco Estrada?

This one I think is a little easier.  He got it going here, he won’t be as much money or term because he’s only had this year as his big season, it’s tough to say what would do it but I have to think 10-12 million per over 3 or 4 seasons.  He’ll be 33 next season, but Estrada is a pitcher, not a thrower.  It’s a lot like when Alex Anthopoulos had a decision to make on Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.  They had career years and needed to be re-signed (extended, weren’t free agents).  He did and look at what sweetheart deals those have turned out to be.

 

Fixing the pen

It got better, but still needs some work.  You can’t get caught in the same situation again with the lefties.  Cecil is great as a setup man, but he can’t be your only reliable guy.  Tony Sipp, Antonio Bastardo, and Manny Parra are the best guys I can find who will be free agents this winter.  No GM in baseball likes sinking much money into their bullpen, but you simply can’t go into next season depending on either Brett Cecil to be your only lefty, or Aaron Loup to essentially make Brett Cecil your only lefty.

 

You’ll also need to replace Aaron Sanchez, because they’ll likely put him back in the rotation.  So while that’s great, it leaves a pretty big hole with your number 1 setup man gone.

 

Other holes

I don’t know if it’s a hole, but I personally would like 1st base shored up.  People might laugh at this notion, but I’m going to put it out there.  I could see Joey Votto at 1st to start next season.  The Reds are rebuilding.  Votto has a monster contract which the Jays could afford to take on.  The Jays lack a big left handed bat.  The Jays lack a guy who’ll hit for average in the middle of the order.  He’s a former gold glove winner.  And for ownership to sign off on bringing such a big contract in…he’s a Toronto born player.  It is totally just a hunch, I haven’t even seen Votto’s name mentioned in rumors.  But Anthopoulos has pulled trades out from seemingly nowhere a few times before, and this would make sense.  To do it, Encarnacion would have to be dealt (which then saves 10 million).  You could essentially flip what you get for Encarnacion for Votto (not exactly, but essentially).

 

Before the playoffs I would have said that Jose Bautista is in his final days as a Jay as well.  Not anymore.  You can’t trade a guy who after the game tonight has cemented himself as a Jays legend.  You probably don’t like his act, I know I haven’t in the past.  But he’s a huge bat, a clutch bat, and there is just no way they’ll move him.  I just hope they don’t go overboard on an extension.

 

I wouldn’t be SHOCKED if Ben Revere is dealt, more so because Dalton Pompey is close.  He wasn’t this season, but after going down to AA and getting his game together he went back to AAA Buffalo and was outstanding.  Then you saw what his speed can do.  More than likely he’s the 4th outfielder and they use him a lot.  But the option is there to move Revere, perhaps for that lefty they need in the pen.

 

Another possible move is at 2nd, where Ryan Goins and Devon Travis both have a spot.  It is possible that the guy they move isn’t either, but rather Troy Tulowitzki with Goins moving to short.  But I can’t see it.  You don’t bring that guy in, only to move him 3 months later.  You can go with a Travis/Goins platoon to start next season and see how that goes.  It would also allow you to DH Tulowitzki some and keep him fresh.  Or you move Travis who would have pretty good value with the first half he had.  Or you move Goins who would also have pretty good value with how great he was defensively on the big stage.  A lot of options.

 

And finally of course the organization has the biggest decision of all.  Do they re-sign Alex Anthopoulos?  He’s a free agent.  He needs to be locked down and with Paul Beeston leaving and Mark Shapiro coming in as the new President of the club.  I have to assume after the job Anthopoulos has done that he’ll be back, but you just never know.  It is going to be a BUSY offseason for this ball club.  The Jays won’t be leaving the news anytime soon.

 

For a guy who has been a Jays fan through the last 22 years (by the way, doubt anyone mentioned it but the Jays hadn’t made the playoffs since 93 until this season), that was so sweet.  A lot of dark years.  Awful crowds, some awful players, and even a 8 year stretch with AWFUL uni’s.  J.P. Riccardi, Carlos Tosca, Miguel Batista, Josh Phelps, Ted Lilly (we always got sold how Ted Lilly was a good number 2 behind Halladay), Lyle Overbay, Russ Adams, Craig Grebeck, no chance of knocking off the Yankees or Red Sox, like it was just horrible!  So this was sweet.  It sucks they lost.  Heartbreaking.  It was such an amazing ride and while they’ll be back, it likely won’t be duplicated.  But man, wasn’t that awesome?!

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