Peter Gammons: For the Blue Jays, It’s Been Too Long to Boast

russell martin alex anthopoulos

In the first month of the off-winter, Alex Anthopoulos has signed Russell Martin, traded for a prized second base prospect named Devon Travis and now acquired Josh Donaldson, whose WAR puts him in an elite class among all American League players, let alone third basemen. But on Saturday, Anthopoulos refused to spike the ball in the end zone or sing “93 is Here Again” or boasting any way.

“We gave up four players we really like,” Anthopoulos insisted. “But we have four years of control on Donaldson, who is obviously a gold glove, power hitting third baseman. Mark Buehrle is the only player who is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season, so we have an opportunity to make a serious run at getting back to the playoffs.”

Anthopoulos doesn’t have to be reminded that the Jays have gone longer than any team in either league without making the playoffs. The last year was 1993, when they won their second straight World Series. It’s not like they’ve had some miserable drought; it’s just that the A.L. East had a decade of 95-114 win teams, the Yankees and Red Sox were mammoth payroll/revenue franchises and there were fluctuations in what the Toronto payroll could or could not be.

But after Anthopoulos made trades with the Marlins and Mets two years ago, hopes were raised, hopes that went unfulfilled. But last season they bounced back to 83-79 with the second best run differential after the Orioles, and now, in a great power hitters park, they appear on the verge of a dynamite offensive team. Jose Reyes, Martin (and his .402 OBP), Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Donaldson is a fearsome front of the order; off last season’s stats, Donaldson and Bautiststa are 1-2 in the division in WAR.

In Buehrle (who led the division in Pitchers WAR), R.A. Dickey, Drew Hutchison (184 K, 184.1 IP), Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, they have what Anthopoulos believes “is a rotation without an ace, but five reliable, 200 innings starters.”

There remain relievers to be found. Second base has to be resolved. Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar will split center field, and Anthopoulos clings to the hope of getting Melky Cabrera back for left field and lefthanded presence in a predominantly righthanded lineup.

But Anthopoulos knows Lawrie has a lot of talent, and is 24. He thinks Kendall Graveman (“our minor league pitching coordinator says he has the best makeup he’s ever been around, to go with a bowling ball sinker”) and that shortstop Franklin Barreto will be in the majors come September.

Whatever he gave up, Anthopoulos also knows it’s worth it if the Blue Jays make the post-season in one of the great cities in the Western Hemisphere.

Comments

  1. Clay Marston says:

    This smart move should rank in top 5 all-time for Blue Jays …
    For all those who follow prospects much too closely you can take a media guide of any MLB team to see just how few of all top five drafted each year ever make it to majors with many dropping out at or before AA …
    This is a tremendously positive move for 2015.

  2. Oh come … the Blue Jays, like the rest of Canada, are nothing but a loft apartment over a REALLY great party! 😉