Jays Lineup Core Deeper, White Sox Fans Should be Angriest

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Talk about making gains in one season. Alex Anthopoulos has simply done a remarkable job in adding core players to the Jays organization while simultaneously signing the core players already on the club. In 2011 alone, he has acquired a #3 starting pitcher or excellent reliever for very little (Carlos Villanueva), a franchise infielder (Brett Lawrie), one of the speediest players in MLB (Rajai Davis), and now a 5-tool centre-fielder, all the while ensuring that his acquisitions made the Jays stronger as a whole. At the same time, he signed both Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar to contracts that are very reasonable for the budget of the Jays, and both could actually be called extremely team friendly. And finally, he has begun making headway in signing his 2011 draft picks to contracts by getting a few more of the top picks, namely Jacob Anderson who was chosen 35th overall and Jeremy Gabryszwski who was chosen 78th overall. 

While Alex has been busy securing the Jays future in the lineup, he has also completely dismantled what was a newly rebuilt bullpen, and he did so for good reason. Not only was it under-performing, but putting a pen together is also something that can easily done if a team is willing to spend money in the off-season. As Alex did this season by putting Marc Rzepczynski and Carlos Villanueva in the pen, he showed that sometimes the best options are also the cheapest. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him add a few Villanueva type options for the pen this season or off-season, that being pitchers which can also be optioned to AAA if they don’t perform highly enough to remain with the big club.

Still, what I want to concentrate on is the core of the Jays with the addition of Colby Rasmus. This is no longer the diminutive Toronto Blue Jays who play at .500. The additions of Rasmus, and eventually Brett Lawrie, to the already strong core the Jays have in place, provides them with a very potent – and CHEAP – team to work with. If we were to compare the lineup the Jays will field in 2012 to that of the Red Sox and Yankees, I think we’d be very impressed at the level of talent the Jays have in comparison and the cost of their team as a whole. Aside from 2B, which will likely be missing Aaron Hill in 2012, and the backup catcher, which should be Travis d’Arnaud, there are few – if any – question marks for the Jays next season.

The Lineup

Today, we should get our first look at where Colby Rasmus may fit in the Jays lineup. If my hunch is right, he will hit in the 2-hole, right in front of Jose Bautista, or in the 6-hole. Wherever he hits, Colby will add some overall speed to the team, while also adding some power from the CF position. That shouldn’t be under-stated, since the Jays now have 3 outfielders who should hit 25+ HRs in 2012, as well as 3 infielders who could join them (Lawrie, Arencibia, and Lind). Any team that has that much HR potential is going to score a whole lot of runs. One part that will improve greatly if Rasmus plays as he can is the OBP the Jays receive from CF, something that has been lacking thus far. Add in the speed of Rasmus, Snider, Lawrie, Escobar, Davis off-the-bench, and Bautista, and the Jays will definitely be a potent team overall in 2012.

Second Base

I wish that Colby Rasmus could also play 2B, but such is not the case. I know that it’s very early to make any calls on what may or may not happen in 2012 in terms of a 2B for the Jays, but I’ve always said that I believe the Jays will one day move Yunel Escobar to 2B and bring up Adeiny Hechavarria in order to provide them with one of the best defensive short stops in the game. I don’t know if it’ll be at the beginning of 2012 or mid-way, but I do know that the Jays will still score plenty of runs with Hechavarria in the 9-hole, so I don’t think they’ll hesitate to call him up when they feel it’s right. If the Jays don’t find a 2B on the FA or trade markets this off-season, and don’t re-sign Aaron Hill, I could see them being willing to do without much offensive output from their SS.

White Sox Fans Should be Angriest

I’ll be posting more thoughts about this deal as soon as I’m back from vacation. As far as I can see, it’s a huge win for the Jays, and one that could bring them to a new level for the remainder of 2011 and particularly in 2012. I will also add this: White Sox fans should be PISSED that their GM wasn’t able to obtain Rasmus himself, after all, he had the biggest piece in the Jays deal with the Cards! Had he been able to obtain Rasmus, Williams would have fielded a much stronger OF long-term, and when you know how thin their minors system is in the OF, you know just how badly they need a young, powerful, speedy CF. Sure, he bettered his pen alot and will likely benefit from a draft pick when Frasor becomes a FA, but missing out on a core player CF while dealing a top 4 in the rotation arm just to do that seems like a horrible deal to me. I could be wrong, but I do know that if Alex Anthopoulos did the same, I would be very disappointed….even fairly angry.

– MG

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