I’m an optimist by nature, so I always like to look at the glass as being half full. However, any baseball fan who would have been told that Dewayne Wise, Jose Molina, and Nick Green would be part of a lineup would know that a loss was a near certainty. No disrespect to any of those players, but they are not by any means close to what we would call an “intimidating bunch”. And that’s an understatement. The fact that the Jays have had to go that deep to fill a lineup and only had that as depth points to the exact problem the Jays have at this point – they don’t want to rush the young guys, but they don’t have enough depth to remain competitive when their starters are as ineffective as they are right now.
Things will get better in 2011, but I’m not so sure they’re going to get much better in 2010 until they decide to bring up more AAA talent. Trading will pick up and the lineup and bullpen should both get a much needed makeover as a result. Here are my predictions of moves to be made by the Jays before September 1st comes around:
- Trade Jose Bautista – not only was he never in the long-term plans of the Jays, but his value will also never be higher than it currently is. He could easily net the Jays 2-3 prospects. The biggest reason they have to trade him is that the Jays will not want to pay the humongous pay raise he will demand now that his power has become a staple of his swing. My prediction is that the Padres, who need some power, will acquire Jose in return for 2 decent prospects and a 4th outfielder.
- Trade or release Lyle Overbay – nobody doubts this will happen, but you be the judge as to whether the Jays can squeeze anything out of another team for him. My prediction is that he will be traded for 1 low level prospect.
- Keep Scott Downs – the fact that the Jays should be able to squeeze some draft picks out of Scott means that he will likely remain a Jay.
- Trade Jason Frasor – He’s on his way out pronto and should be the first RP traded. The Phillies, Rangers, and Mets are my 3 favourite destinations for Jason as all teams need some help in the pen. The Jays will likely land 1 mid level or 2 low level prospects for Jason. If I had to predict where, I’d say the Jays will send him to the Phillies, along with Brad Emaus, Edwin Encarnacion, and/or Jarrett Hoffpauir in return for 2 medium-high level prospects.
- Trade Brian Tallet – unlike Jason Frasor, Tallet has a bit more upside because he can spot start and act as a long reliever, although his performances have recently gone downwards. A team like the Nationals could be interested in adding Brian as insurance to their starters and to bridge the innings that Strasburg will be limited to. They, and the Cards, are my 2 likeliest destinations for Brian.
- Trade John Buck – it may be one of the last trades on this list to be completed, but it may also be one of the most rewarding. Teams like the Padres (Hundley has concussion issues), Detroit (Laird and Buck would make a nice tandem), and the Phillies (Ruiz has concussion issues), could all be in play for Buck and his huge power + cheap salary. The returns really depends on whether he is packaged with other player(s), but he could land a pretty decent prospect or even current position player where the team has decent depth. My prediction is to Detroit, in return for 2 prospects (I’d say something like RP Melvin Mercedes and another prospect).
- Keep Alex Gonzalez – the Jays love his D, have loved both his leadership and his offensive output, and now know it may be longer than expected before Adeiny Hechavarria is ready for The Show. Therefore, I expect they’ll keep him around for the majority of 2011.
- Keep Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Vernon Wells – as much as I’d like to predict what the Jays could get for either Adam Lind or Aaron Hill, there’s just no way they’d be better off selling low on these 2 talented players. They’ll come around. As for Wells, there still isn’t a team out there that would be willing to take on his salary, even after a solid 1st half of the year.
- Keep Kevin Gregg – why not? Believe it or not, most teams in the hunt and considered buyers are solid in the pen, other than the Phillies and Mets that is, but neither team seems likely to give up much for a guy like Gregg. Meanwhile, the Jays can count on him to keep things respectable and can afford his salary over the next 2 years, after which they can collect 1 or 2 very high draft picks if he keeps up his current performances. They can ease the bunch they have in the minors into the roles they have waiting for them without throwing them directly into the closing role.
- Trade Jesse Litsch – it isn’t that I don’t like Jesse, I really do like pulling for him, but he doesn’t measure up to the arms behind him (Rzepcynski, Drabek, Stewart) and therefore has more value in being traded than kept. So long as he has some really strong starts, I don’t see any reason that teams like the Mets and Padres wouldn’t be interested in bringing him onboard at a decent price.
The list above points to a very busy summer for Alex Anthopolous as he tries to steer the Jays towards the future – a successful future. Once all deals are completed, the lineup and rotation would look something like this:
LF Fred Lewis – 2B Aaron Hill – DH Adam Lind – CF Vernon Wells – SS Alex Gonzalez – RF Travis Snider – 1B Brett Wallace – C JP Arencibia – 3B Jarrett Hoffpauir or Brad Emaus.
Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski
Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo, Rommie Lewis, Josh Roenicke, Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen
That is still a very competitive lineup and rotation, so this makeover isn’t that much of a stretch. The only question really is, will Alex Anthopolous find enough interest and the right price to move the guys listed above. Some will be let go for very little, but a guy like Jose Bautista really needs to find a buyer that is willing to pay a decent price for his services, therefore he – and John Buck – may carry the steepest prices of all those listed as trade candidates above.
It’s never easy to make trades but AA has proven that he can get things done when needed. Well, guess what AA, the Jays need to get things done and now is the time to get that giant ball rolling. I expect that the fact the Jays are likely to go into the All-Star break below .500 and more than 10 games back of the AL East lead will likely lead to lots of wheeling and dealing, and that more than 1 of the predictions above will come true as a result.