Monday, January 9, 2012

Offseason Update

Happy New Year! Its 2012, and the time has come to look at the Toronto Blue Jays offseason so far. Toronto entered the offseason needing a second baseman, backup catcher, DH/first baseman, a bullpen, and a top three starter. Let’s see how they did.

Second Base

Kelly Johnson surprisingly did not get any significant offers from any team, and was one of the three players who accepted arbitration this year. With Johnson, the Jays got the best second baseman available, without giving up prospects, or overpaying.

The Verdict – A

Definitely a win for Toronto, despite the potential draft pick Johnson would have netted had he signed elsewhere.

Backup Catcher

It was widely accepted that Alex Anthopoulos would not re-sign Jose Molina. Molina, who had been a solid backup and a good veteran presence, was a type B free agent, meaning that he would net the Jays a supplemental round pick if he signed with another team. Alex loves collecting picks, so it was no surprise when Molina signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays quickly filled the hole, bringing in Angel veteran, and Mike Scioscia favorite, Jeff Mathis, for lefty pitcher Brad Mills. Mills did not figure in to Toronto's plans, as he was buried in a Toronto system filled with young, talented, high-upside arms.

The Verdict – C+

I’m calling a win here. The draft pick is nice, Mills was expendable, and Mathis is a very solid defensive backup. He doesn’t need to be a great hitter, as he does not project to start often. If Arencibia does get hurt, it will be D’arnaud, not Mathis, who starts.

DH/First Base

By picking up Encarnacion’s option, Anthopoulos made it clear that he was happy with his first base and DH tandem of Edwin and Lind. Many Jay’s fans are disappointed that Toronto did not pursue bigger names such as Pujols and Fielder.

The Verdict: B-

The decision to stand pat was neither a win nor a loss. I am not a Fielder or Pujols advocate, as I believe the contracts necessary to lock them up would have been damaging. Contrary to popular belief, the Jays are not looking to spend a bundle of cash, and if they were, I would rather it be spent on a premium position. Give Alex credit for standing pat. Lind and Encarnacion are poised to have very good seasons, at a great price. Still, it would have been nice to see a sure threat along with Jose in the middle of the order.


Alex’s first big move of the offseason was the acquisition of Sergio Santos for Jay’s top pitching prospect, Nestor Molina. The deal allowed Toronto to add a closer who is young, talented, and controllable, with a high ceiling. The only downside was giving away Molina, a very talented young arm. In addition to Santos, Toronto signed veteran lefty Darren Oliver, and brought back Jason Frasor, also from Chicago, for a couple of low level prospects. The three of them will be in charge of the late innings, along with Casey Janssen. They represent a solid upgrade over last year’s back end, Fransisco, Rauch, and Dotel. Toronto also received two type B picks when the Mets signed two of last year’s trio.

The Verdict – B

Santos should be a fixture for years. Toronto still lacks a setup man, but looks solid. The draft picks should make up for the loss of the prospects, and the team should see an improvement in the bullpen after it blew 25 saves last year. Oliver was a bit pricey, but the Jays desperately needed a lefty. The only thing preventing me from saying that this was a huge win is Santos’ lack of experience.

Starting Pitching

The teams that win are the ones with the best pitching. After a tough year that saw Cecil take a step back, Drabek fail to stick, Jo Jo Reyes, and Morrow unable to take the next step, Toronto was in serious need of a top tier starter to stabilize the rotation. Toronto has been linked to just about everybody, Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos, Matt Garza, and Yu Darvish. However, they were unable to get a deal done, and in the case of Yu Darvish, were outbid by the Texas Rangers. As of now, Toronto’s projected rotation for the coming season is: Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Alvarez, and McGowan.

The Verdict – F

I wouldn’t have liked the price it would have taken to acquire any of these pitchers, and I think Garza is stupendously overrated. That being said, Toronto NEEDS a starter. If it meant posting more for Darvish, or making a legitimate offer to Edwin Jackson, or giving up an extra prospect in a trade, Toronto needed to do it. If they enter the season with the current projected rotation, Alex will have failed to fill his team’s biggest need. However, in Anthopoulos’ defense, any acquisition would have meant overpaying. Perhaps the best strategy is to wait for the plethora of young, talented pitching prospects to reach the majors. But the facts remain. Toronto is not a contender with its current rotation.

Final Verdict – B-

Although the Jays did not have the exciting offseason that many predicted, they filled most of their needs well. If Morrow steps up his game and Drabek rebounds, we could be watching this team in October.

Agree or disagree with any of my assessments? Leave a reply!

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