Every single time Alex Anthopolous does not come straight out and say “no, we’re not interested in Manny Ramirez because of X, Y and Z”, he increases the likeliness that the Jays are in fact interested and looking into his bat as a possible addition to the lineup. A recent quote from a Ken Fidlin article had Alex stating:
I’m sorry, but that has Manny Ramirez written all over it and a message to him and his agent. It may very well be the biggest hint we get on the Jays position towards Manny yet. Instead of saying no, as they just did in Justin Upton‘s case, the Jays said….mmmm, maybe. They told Manny “make yourself affordable, and the Jays will give you the shot you said you wanted to play for John Farrell”. The more interesting fact is that this quote was made after 2 player misses. First, the Jays lost out to the Braves on the Dan Uggla sweepstakes – which I, for one, can’t imagine why they did since the Braves offer was horrible to say the least and ended up putting him in the same division – and have just recently bowed out of the Justin Upton sweepstakes due to the price tag attached.
Ahh, the Justin Upton Sweepstakes. Why in the world are the Jays looking for yet another outfielder anyhow? You have to believe that Rajai Davis was going to be part of a deal. If my thinking on this is correct, the reason the Jays want another OF is because they want Bautista at 3B and see Davis as a platoon candidate. I’d look for the Jays to keep ruffling the bushes to see what they can add in the outfield. I’m not so sure who it will be, but with the talent level Alex Anthopolous has been looking at to add at each position, you know it’s not going to be a Pat Burrell type of player. He want a young and mobile OF.
Speaking of a young and mobile OF, it seems that prospect Darin Mastroinanni – which was reportedly offered in the Dan Uggla non-deal – is a trade chip for the Jays in their search for upgrades. I’m sad to see them pass up the chance to watch him get a shot in The Show, but if it lands us the right player, so be it. I also would not be surprised to see the majority of the players added to the 40-man roster, especially Joel Carreno and Moises Sierra, to be traded at some point as well. Keeping them on the 40-man through 2011 may be hard to do, although adding Joel Carreno to the pen options in the minors is an intriguing thought since his pitch development has left him with only 2 plus offerings. Could he become the closer in AA and make the jump to The Show at some point in 2011? Why not?
I’m still in a bit of a shock about the deals made including the majority of the high-end RP prospects the Jays had over the last year. The Jays first traded Tim Collins to the Braves in the Yunel Escobar deal, and now have traded Trystan Magnuson and Danny Farquhar in order to add Rajai Davis. So why deal these prominent pen prospects? I’ll tell you why and I’m sure every fantasy baseball owner will agree with me here – you never know how RP prospects will translate to The Show. I remember not being able to deal for Jose Mesa of the Marlins, Anthony Slama of the Twins, or Rob Bryson of the Brewers because the owner would come back with the “he’s their next closer” line. Nobody knows how they will do, and to tell you the truth, every single pitcher – starter or reliever – in the minors can become a reliever if need be.
So, when we look at the Jays RP prospect depth chart, we have to take into account the fact that SP prospects like Joel Carreno, Luis Perez, or Rey Gonzalez, could all become relievers in the future. I was still shocked that the Jays traded both Magnuson and Farquhar, but I understood the reasoning. You get a player that will be on the field for hundreds of innings and hundreds of at bats with seasoning and the exact ingredient you need – speed and mobility in the OF – in return for 2 players who may or may not pan our as MLB reliever for a total of 100-120 innings each season at a maximum. To me, that’s a great deal and shows that although the cost can be perceived to be a future closer and set up guy, Alex Anthopolous had the guts to pull the trigger and say that today, this is the best deal for the Jays organization. And, he’s entirely correct.
I just wanted to touch on Davis a little more since I didn’t get to do so when the deal happened – I was doing a survival course with the Canadian Forces. Davis’s splits in 2010 show us a great deal about his potential at the top of the lineup in 2011. In 2010, he hit .291 with a .336 OBP and 25 SB when leading off. Sadly for him, he was never left in the role consistently and was moved down to 6th-9th in the lineup where his stats suffered as a result. What’s more, he did extremely well versus LH starters with a .310 average, .355 OBP, and .424 Slugging, which was a weakness for the Jays at the top of the lineup in 2010. Fred Lewis, in comparison, only hit .274 with a good .350 OBP but meager .345 slugging against LH starters. Getting more consistency at the top of the lineup is key for the Jays to be able to drive in more runs. If Rajai can do that and drive opposing pitchers and catchers nuts by being a pest on the base-paths, the Jays big bats will do a ton of damage in 2011.
Now, to close it off, I would like to go over what I see as the 10 top RP prospects the Jays have remaining in the minors system after the latest trade. Having lost both Shawn Hill and Taylor Buchholz recently means that some of these players could be called upon to pitch for the Jays in 2011 and represent what’s left of what used to be a position of strength for the Jays in the minors.
These are not in order of talent or expected call up order. They simply represent the 10 best relief arms in the system when you take starters out of the equation.
1 – Alan Farina – AA – 23 years old – 55 IP/ 74 Ks/ 20 walks/ 1.29 ERA/ 6 saves/ 0.808 whip
2 – Matt Daly – HiA – 23 years old – 57 IP/ 63 Ks/ 23 walks/ 2.50 ERA/ 31 saves/ 1.179 whip
3 – Drew Permison – SS – 21 years old – 39 IP/ 59 Ks/ 19 walks/ 2.31 ERA/ 7 saves
4 – Daniel Barnes – LoA – 21 years old – 37 IP/ 53 Ks/ 13 walks/ 2.15 ERA/ 1 save
5 – Dustin Antolin – LoA – 20 years old – 27 IP/ 24 Ks/ 9 walks/ 2.93 ERA/ 0 saves
6 – Nestor Molina – LoA – 21 years old – 81 IP/ 64 Ks/ 20 walks/ 3.11 ERA/ 4 saves
7 – Aaron Loup – LoA – 22 years old – 73 IP/ 73 Ks/ 22 walks/ 4.54 ERA/ 2 saves
8 – Milciades Santana – GCL – 21 years old – 30 IP/ 35 Ks/ 11 walks/ 2.70 ERA/ 1 save
9 – Dayton Marze – LoA – 21 years old – 26 IP/ 20 Ks/ 6 walks/ 2.73 ERA/ 8 saves
10 – Casey Beck – LoA – 23 years old – 43 IP/ 54 Ks/ 23 walks/ 3.74 ERA/ 6 saves
As you can see from the list above, the Jays still have a TON of talent in the relief pitching prospect category. Guys like Farina and Daly in particular could have an impact as early as late 2011. When you add the numerous starters that could be converted to starters in the organization, you get a sense that the Jays are still extremely wealthy when it comes to the overall pitching talent on board.
Rest easy when looking at the Jays RP prospect situation, there’s more than enough talent on board to take up the slack from the loss of Magnuson, Farquhar, and Collins. Would I love to still have them on board? Sure, but at the cost of Yunel Escobar and Rajai Davis? No way.