When I look at the Jays descent into the basement of the AL East the most maddening aspect of it all is that they were leapfrogged by Baltimore. The team that went into the 2012 season dubbed the OriLOLes somehow beat the Blue Jays to the post season and seems more poised for a string of prolonged contending than Toronto does. While the Orioles have made many laughable questionable moves of their own there has been one area where the Orioles have outshone the Jays has been managing their bullpen assets.
When I say that I don’t mean in-game issues such as the greatest man to put on a manger jacket, John Farrell using his magical wisdom to have Octavio Dotel face left hand batters. What I do mean though is that Alex Anthopoulos has failed to get maximum value for his relievers. While some of the reliever hoarding can be tied to the team trying to load up on draft pics to replenish a barren system there have been chances since the CBA changed that the Jays could have sold parts. Think the Colby Rasmus trade, the Jays gave up a middling prospect along with a few relievers and Corey Patterson and got back a Major League caliber center fielder.
The Orioles pulled of a similar winning transaction when they dealt Koji Uehara to the Rangers and netted themselves future 50 home run man Chris Davis as well as pitcher Tommy Hunter. As Anthopoulos himself demonstrated by dealing Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco, there is always somebody willing to overpay for relief pitching.
So although I enjoyed watching Darren “Black Magic” Oliver ride off into the sunset in a Jays uniform as much as the next guy thinking of what the team may have been able to acquire by dealing the like of Darren Oliver is somewhat frustrating. What makes it particular maddening is the proficiency Anthopolous has shown in building a quality bullpen. When you see his masterful bullpen construction or look at Tampa Bay who somehow converts the like of Kyle Farnsworth and Fernando Rodney into quality bullpen pieces despite them being awful beforehand.
There wasn’t a tonne of movement of meaningful relievers this season but even the Padres grabbed Ian Kennedy from the Diamondbacks for a pair of relievers and a compensatory pick. That doesn’t seem like a lot to pay for a former 19 game winner, regardless of if those wins came in the NL West. Think of what could have been gotten for Darren Oliver with one of our many other relief pitchers, or dare I say Casey Janssen? While there is some semi rational argument that the Jays will be contending in 2014 and Janssen is a good piece to hang on to, the amount of surplus pitching Toronto will have that wont quite be able to crack the rotation coupled with what Sergio Santos finally showed us he is all about, would leave me feeling more than alright if the club had dealt Janssen at some point in the season too.
Now obviously I don’t know how hard or soft the market for relief pitching was or what deal were to be had, but obviously we could have gotten more than nothing for Darren Oliver and I think Janssen would have netted a large return especially if packaged with some other more minor parts.
Hopefully this was simply a case of the right deal not presenting itself and not a club getting overly attach/sentimental with its relief corps.