Jays Lineup Core Deeper, White Sox Fans Should be Angriest

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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  • Topper2804

    Can Lawrie play 2nd? if Hill is out in 12 would keep Thames bat in the lineup. Or is this 3 guys 2 spots something to sort out next spring training

  • Mylegacy

    Can Lawrie play 2nd? Yes – just not as well as it appears he’d be able to play 3rd. However, I think Lawrie could play almost any where he’s such a good athlete.

    I’d like to offer a semi-serious proposal – I suggest an outfield of the three kids: Snider (lf), Rasmus (cf), and Thames (rf). With Lawrie at 3rd, Escobar at SS, Lind at 1st, JPA/d’Arnaud at C and EE at DH and – wait for it – Bautista at 2nd. Why? Because I KNOW Bautista can play 2nd – hell the guy can play anywhere! AND that gives us the VERY BEST NINE bats we can field.

    Our batting line-up would be: Escobar (R), Rasmus (L), Bautista (R), Lind (L), EE (R), Thames (L), Lawrie (R), Snider (L) and batting 9th: JPA or d’Arnaud both (R). EVERY SINGLE one of those guys is a SERIOUS DEADLY THREAT.

  • Mylegacy

    Oh YEAH: We could have Loewen (L) on the bench as well!

  • j.u

    There is no way they are going to ask Bautista to play 2nd, it was tough enough to ask him to move from RF back to 3rd, where he is already comfortable. Not to mention his age, he won’t last as a 2B, and it’s just not going to happen. We won’t have any problems at all until Lawrie comes up, and then EE becomes the odd-one out. At that point, Rasmus CF, Bautista RF, Snider LF, Lawrie 3B and Thames will back up the corner outfield spots and DH.. Problem happens when Gose is ready to come up, because he holds a premium at CF… Then you have to find a new spot for Bautista (he won’t want to full-time DH in 2012/2013 I can guarantee it) or Snider… And if you move them then somebody is gonna have to take Thames’ spot at the DH… It’s going be a log-jam, but that’s not a bad thing, because then you can package players for bigtime all-stars or help on the pitching side… Keep in mind, all these problems circle around both Snider and Rasmus getting it together, for all their hype, Thames has probably been the best oufielder among them.

  • juanguzman

    i think the best lineup scenario would be : escobar (ss), rasmaus (cf), bautista (3b), lind (1b), lawrie (2b), thames (rf), arencibia (c), snider (lf), davis (dh). i know davis is not the most prolific bat around, but he does offer the speed factor that would give you the extra leasoff at the bottom of the order (see b. gardner in ny). ee is too up and down and when he is down , he gives you nothing. also remember when the jays got lawrie , he WAS a 2b and they comverted him. it would be easy for him to go back to 2nd base.

  • He’s Done it Again!

    First and foremost, Bautista will not be asked to play 2nd base.(.)[period] So lets get that settled. How many times have we heard AA explain that baseball is played up the middle? He is talking about a defensive game with athletic players who play smart baseball. Not that Jose does not play smart baseball, not that Brett Lawrie is not athletic but catching, shortstop, 2nd base and centre field take considerable seasoning and require instant reaction time to make split second decisions. That entails having players who have played the position for years and received all their coaching at that position, taken several thousand reps and if asked, these guys could play the position in a coma.

    This is why AA paid $10 million for a talented, athletic shortstop with brains in an unproven Hechevaria (or however you spell it). That is why they went and sold potentially a 30 HR bat in Brett Wallace for the defensive, speedster in Anthony Gose (Gose 4 Halladay???). This is why the Blue Jays have several incredible catching prospects that if they can hit, well thats a bonus. Travis D’Arnaud is a defensive first, game caller. Not a natural hitter. Fortunately he is a smart kid and is learning the offensive side on the fly. JPA is becoming a very strong game caller. His defensive abilities have improved considerably however, he needs to start throwing some base runners out.

    All of this being said. Even Yunel Escobar slotting in at second is not an ideal situation for AA, although I could certainly think of worse options. He wants the guys that play these positions naturally. End of story. No putting Jose at second, or waiting to see if Lawrie could handle the responsibility. If he ain’t doing it now, he ain’t doing it at all. As a Blue Jays fan, I love seeing the young talent and a lineup that includes all of them. This is not a reality however, some of these guys will become trade bait for starting pitching/bullpen. It’ll be up to them to make sure a spot is reserved in a very competitive lineup. I look forward to the competition.

    Anyone missing Juan Rivera? Just curious….

  • jakely

    The speed with which Anthopolous has completely revamped this thing is mind boggling. We were not in good shape overall as a franchise when he got hired and Doc asked out. Now it’s almost as if we have too many young, high ceiling players and not enough positions for them. There’s players behind these with big potential. Still more right behind that. They are going to grow up together. It seems like a player will soon HAVE to be good just to play on this team. By the time the next couple years play out, that farm system will have had a few years of the extra scouting, coaching, all business approach now taken. In a couple of years, how good are these kids we’re watching right now going to be? We can afford to miss on some of them and still get there. We’re armed to the teeth in trade bait. They haven’t spent a cent on a big FA yet. Think of the age of the Yanks and Sox. This is the brightest future in the bigs. It’s set up to be sustainable. It’s beautiful. I don’t see how it misses. It’s been less than two years. wow. When you think of the JP years knowing we were going to finish 3rd or 4th and knowing it when the pitchers and catchers reported, it’s enough to give you a man crush on the guy.

    One point about JP. Those contracts he gave out were horrible. The players were obviously totally unworthy. It was the no trade clauses, the out clauses, no team leverage, the silly limo ride thing – I’m surprised there wasn’t a brown M&M clause in there – basically getting on his knees begging & grovelling in writing to get players to come to Toronto. First off, screw you if you dont want to come here. Secondly, what kind of mentality is that for your gm? Thirdly, screw him for it. Bushleague idiot bullshit. We’re the Jays. We have a proud legacy and that’s quite enough of the tarnishing. Different feel around here these days. Talk about night & day.