Aug 28, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Darren Oliver (38) throws a pitch in the ninth inning during a game against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports The Toronto Blue Jays won 7-2.

Hanging on to relievers a missed oppourtunity?


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.

Sep 29, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Darren Oliver (38) tips his hat to the fans after striking out Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Tampa defeated Toronto 7-6. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Tags: Alex Anthopoulos Casey Janssen Darren Oliver Toronto Blue Jays

  • Erik Trenouth

    The Jays are going to have to deal some relievers this winter, or they are going to have too many relievers without options. I wish they would have been able to make something happen at the trade deadline when relievers are more valuable, but they can definitely be included in a package with, say Jose Bautista, for a top shelf pitcher.

    • Alex Dineley

      I don’t know about the Jose Bautista aspect of things but you’re absolutely right the lack of options is something that could hurt them. It seems so odd because in the early years of AA he was super meticulous about managing assets and maximizing the value of guys with or without options

      • Justin Jay

        They re-arranged the game on AA. One of his favourite things was to offer players arbitration, which of course they would turn down. If they were considered Type A or Type B, the Jays would get compensatory draft picks. The MLB took away that little game he loved to play.

        AA is still meticulous about managing “players” (I’m not really sure “assets” apply to Laffey, Ramon Ortiz, Wang, Edgar Gonzalez, Bush, and Germano). Some team waived a player, Toronto turned into a kid at Christmas because AA wanted to “build a winner” in Buffalo. Yea… nice excuse ass. Anyway, point being, I just don’t think he’s a great GM. There’s a reason, as stated above, why the OriLOLes returned to the Orioles and why the Blue Jays are still… well… I can’t say it here. Name a prospect that has panned out that AA acquired as part of big name, expensive players he traded away (which is his claim to fame). There has not been a single one. Not Drabek, not Gose, and though it was part of a lesser trade, not even Bad Boy Brett. Some of that is due to poor player development, part of that is due to the fact AA just isn’t that good. The evidence is there just by firing Mottola yesterday. They… are… CLUELESS

  • revolu888

    You do know that AA was probably fishing around with Oliver as bait, but probably was not offered anything more then scrap heap.

    • Alex Dineley

      I dont buy that, the Jays got Jose Bautista for a player to be named later so scrap heap is still salvageable, and that’s from a Pirates team that was going nowhere, a team in contention and in need of a bullpen piece would pay what is needed. Plus unless theres some new sabermetric thing where getting nothing is worth more than getting something I’ll gamble with the scrap heap.

  • Justin Jay

    Normally I’m a man of many words, but today I’m going to just utter 2: Dan… Duquette