The deal completed by the Jays for Anthony Gose, acquired from Houston in return for Brett Wallace, is the first deal made by Alex Anthopolous that has me scratching my head. I understand that he is dealing for the highest ceiling players and that this is not an entirely lop-sided deal, but I felt like Brett Wallace was the answer at 1B and that he was going to help the Jays in 2011. Now, with Anthony on board, the Jays can only expect him to arrive in 2012 at the earliest, and will still be paying Vernon Wells $21 million per season for Gose’s first 3 seasons in the majors, making me believe that he’ll either be blocked or that Wells will move to RF or LF.
First and foremost, let’s look at 1B for the Jays in 2011. Adam Lind has been working out there, and there’s also the chance that the Jays will acquire a 1B in a deal this season or this off-season, so it’s feasible that Pablo Sandoval or Prince Fielder will be the bat of choice for the Jays. I entirely believe that as the season progressed in AAA, the Jays realized that what they got for Michael Taylor in Brett Wallace was really Lyle Overbay 2.0. What do I mean by that? Well, he’s going to get the same power numbers as Lyle does in terms of doubles and HRs in the majors, but will play lesser D while giving you a much better average and OBP. I truly believe the Jays want power from the 1B position, so Brett didn’t fit that mould perfectly. Sandoval and Fielder would, however, and I think the Jays are willing to pay the price to get them on board.
Second, the outfield is the implication here. With Jake Marisnick playing in the GCL and promising to be a very talented 5-tool player, and Eric Thames driving in runs like a mad man in AA (81 RBIs so far in 2010, already tied for the NH record), the Jays have 2 very nice OF prospects. However, only Darin Mastroianni and Kenny Wilson fit the mould of a centre fielder, and neither offers a power-speed combo, only one or the other. I think the Jays want a CF that can give them above average performances in all aspects of the game. Gose “projects” to provide the following skills:
- Above average speed;
- Enough power for 15-20 HRs per season;
- Gold-glove calibre D; and
- A great makeup and attitude that make him a great team mate and clubhouse addition.
That’s what I like about this trade. They may have dealt a slightly above average 1B, but they can fill that void much more easily than getting a gold-glove CF with power and speed.
The part I don’t like about this deal is the word “projects”, because so often teams have been disappointed because a player does not fulfil his potential. We knew what we were going to get from Brett Wallace. Average D at 1B, 15-20 HRs (slightly below average power for 1B), a .290-.300 average and a .350-.370 OBP. With Anthony, the power could never arrive, which would mean that we gave up Wallace for a player that hits as well as and has less speed than Michael Bourn in Houston. I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with that deal.
But, here’s the kicker. A long time ago, in 2002, my team – les Expos – trade Grady Sizemore to Cleveland in a year that had him hit only 3 HRs and steal 23 bases. He stands at 6’2″ 200 lbs, was 19 at the time of the trade playing in HiA (as Anthony is) and is probably known to be one of the, if not the, best CFers in all of MLB. Anthony Gose, 6’1″ 190 lbs at only 19 years of age, has his kind of upside with much more speed. Last season, he was able to steal 76 bases and hit 2 HRs. This year, he has already hit 4 HRs and stolen 37 bases. Some may say – but he was caught so many times (20 times in 2009 and 27 times in 2010) – but I say he’s only 19 and is going to be 20 in August, so give him a chance to learn how to steal. The phenomenal speed is there, no doubt about it, he just needs experience.
One thing Anthony will have over every other CFer that makes him a potential gold-glover is one of the best outfield arms in all of the minors. Anthony was a pitcher as well as an outfielder when he was younger, explaining the strength he has in his arm. Due to his arm strength, many had projected him as a possibility in RF, but with his speed there is no doubt he belongs in CF. Make no mistake about it, when Gose is ready Vernon Wells will be moving, whether it be to another team, RF, or LF.
It is possible that Gose’s power will never develop and that his ceiling will be similar to that of BJ Upton’s minus the big year he had as a rookie. Would that really be that bad though? I’m fairly certain most teams would like to have BJ on board, despite the knowledge that he could be so much better. So the floor of Gose’s potential is fairly high as well, even if the risk exists, which makes this transaction easier to understand.
Like I said before, it’s still possible the Jays will land a huge bat at 1B. It could be Carlos Pena, or they could hope Mike Jacobs turns his career around. But, there are also opportunities that some in the Jays systems will grow into the role. Michael McDade, David Cooper, and Lance Durham could all turn out to be the impact bat the Jays seek at 1B. You just never know. Add to that the fact that almost any player can be converted in a 1B, and it’s not exactly the hardest hole to fill. A gold-glove speed demon with power to play CF, however, is pretty hard (or expensive) to find.
That’s why I approve of this deal despite my questioning the projection side of things. Adam Lind can easily man 1B adequately and although I would have liked to see how well Wallace did in The Show before dealing him, doing so would have been risky because it could have eroded all of his trade value. I give this deal a thumbs up, but still look forward to seeing how the Jays fill the 1B power bat void it has created.