If you’ve been following along, we’ve had some site problems throughout Fansided.com. I’m sure the other writers have already apologized and I would like to extend the same courtesy as well. Now that we’re back online, I decided to put an idea out there that I think is rather reasonable. I noticed a few other Blue Jay sites putting out blueprints on ways to fix the team and such. They’re creative and mostly reasonable. I, however, am not giving you a blueprint today. I’m here to preach about one specific idea (no… not “panic” or “blow the whole damn thing up!”).
TRADE CASEY JANSSEN TO ARIZONA FOR TYLER SKAGGS
If you’re like me, you’re of the belief that the Toronto Blue Jays greatest strength is their bullpen. With the emergence of Brett Cecil, Neil Wagner, and even Aaron Loup, combined with Steve Delabar, I started giving deep thought as to which teams could desperately need a closer and have a stacked farm system. I briefly mentioned this back in June: Arizona is that team.
Now, I know I said Casey Janssen is a Top 5 closer. I know I said we need to keep this guy. Trust me, I hate the thought of doing this, but Janssen’s stock has never been higher. The Diamondbacks had 67 Save Opportunities last season. They blew 29 of them. Janssen blew 2. Despite the 29 blown saves, Arizona went 81-81 for the season and finished in 2nd place in the NL West. They missed winning the division by 12 games. Take a minute to digest all of that.
Arizona’s farm system is stacked! Absolutely stacked. Archie Bradley has taken over the top spot as top pitching prospect in the organization. You can forget about getting him for Janssen. I don’t want him anyway. I want Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs always seems to be the bridesmaid when it comes to Top Prospect pitching honours in Arizona’s system and that’s perfect for Toronto. He’s a #2 pitcher in the making and he’s a lefty with a filthy, dirty, make you salivate curveball. So what’s my point?
I think Toronto can get him. He’s fallen out of favour with the Arizona brass, kind of like how Trevor Bauer did after 2012. Even if it cost Janssen and a prospect of some sort, I think Toronto can get Skaggs. When you think of guys like Mark Buehrle and Pat Hentgen mentoring a kid like Skaggs, it’s something to get excited over. Not only does getting a pitcher like Skaggs instantly make the Blue Jays rotation better, it gives the Blue Jays insurance. “Insurance?” There have been rumblings of Toronto re-signing Josh Johnson. Get a guy like Skaggs and sure! Do it! Re-sign Johnson! Toronto’s rotation would look something like this: Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Skaggs, and Johnson/Happ/Romero/Hutchison/Drabek/Stroman/Nolin.
Do you see the beauty in that? There’s guaranteed depth. There’s no rush to move guys like Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman up to big leagues too soon (though, Toronto did let Nolin get a taste already). Let the kids get a taste of AAA ball. Let them make some adjustments and get themselves on track. When they get all warmed up, if Johnson, Happ, or Romero (all of whom should have first crack at the rotation in April 2014) happen to struggle, make a change.
I know there will be doubts. “Can Cecil or Delabar close out games?” The answer is YES! Both guys have the confidence. They will also have their health and maintain it while moving into the closer’s role. Toronto managed to limit Janssen’s innings to 52.2 last season, 11 less than last season. So keeping them fresh is also a plus. They’re both also less expensive than Janssen and under team control through 2014. Not to say Janssen is “expensive” for a top closer, because he’s certainly not, but this Blue Jays payroll is going to balloon and every bit of savings helps.
“Why Skaggs?” Good question! For starters and to drive the point home, he’s a lefty. In the AL East, you need those. Yea, he was 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA and 7 HRA in 38.2 innings. Even in AAA Reno, 6-10 4.59 ERA 1.471 WHIP. Shelby Miller didn’t have stellar AAA numbers either, but he was working on different pitches. I feel Skaggs was doing something similar. BrooksBaseball.net shows that throughout 2013, Skaggs was mostly throwing his 4FB, until July. In July, he had 1 quality start, and got hit pretty hard throughout the rest of the month. The reason being was Skaggs was trying to develop a forth pitch. He started working on his 2FB. In July, he only threw his 4FB 9% of the time, while his 2FB was at 53%, with his CHG (21%) and CRV (17%) mixed in. Skaggs’ two best pitches are his 4FB and CRV and he threw them the least. What happens when he start to unleash the fury? That’s what I want to find out! Prior to this season in the minors, he was absolutely dominant. At every level except The Show, he’s struck out close to 1 batter per inning, and he wasn’t too far off for AZ at 8.4 K/9. Like I said, with a guy like Buehrle in his corner, I like his chances for development.
The only thing I see ruining this idea, aside from Arizona’s GM Kevin Towers flat out saying “no,” is a guy named Jake Barrett. In that farm system AZ’s got, Barrett is #7. After struggling in his first pro season in 2012, he flat out dealed through high A and AA ball. He’s the X factor that ruins my Skaggs idea. If Towers feels Barrett is ready, and MLB.com predicts he makes the club in 2014, then Janssen will not be necessary other than to fix the bullpen. That won’t land Toronto Skaggs. If Towers feels that two pitches just isn’t good enough and is concerned that his GB:FB ratio reversed itself between A+ (1.29) and AA (0.77), there’s no way he cannot consider dealing Skaggs for Janssen. 29 blown saves is unacceptable and going into the season with Ziegler and his mid-80s side-arm sinking fastball as your closer is also unacceptable. If Arizona blows 2 games instead of 29, they’re in the playoffs and Mattingly’s fired and the Dodgers are an afterthought. Towers! Anthopoulos! Make… this… trade!
**UPDATE** Fansided.com’s Arizona Diamondbacks website, Venomstrikes.com, had a response to the article. Co-Editor Thomas Lynch makes some compelling points for Diamondback fans here! Interesting read. Have a look!