Aug 30, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is Pitching Really Blue Jays #1 Need?

Jul 13, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos during batting practice before their game against the Cleveland Indians at the Rogers Centre. The Indians beat the Blue Jays 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the free agent and trading landscape, there are interesting names bandied about that some seem to think would help the Blue Jays. We all know the starters were the problem last season but is it starting pitching that is the number one concern for this team? I would have to say…well no it isn’t. Far from it.

Defense wins championships. That is true for most sports. This holds true for the Blue Jays and an improved defense can only help whatever starters we have as our five going into 2014. If there was a difference maker out there I would be intrigued. Unfortunately Bronson Arroyo, Bartolo Colon and Jeff Samardzija are not enough of a definitive upgrade. They might be a cog in the wheel but they are not a difference maker. Arroyo is kind of old, as is Colon. Samardzija had only his second full season as a starter. Sure there is upside there but is it any more upside than what we already have in stock? Not really.

Going into the 2014 season I would rank our starters as such: R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Chad Jenkins, Marcus Stroman, Deck McGuire and Sean Nolin That’s 12 starters for 5 spots. Sure there are injury concerns with comebacks by Drabek, Hutchison and no long-term gauge on Redmond, Jenkins and McGuire and the other kids but are these choices better or worse than the starters out on the market? I would say the difference is negligible. I am willing to go into the season with those pitchers available. If we are in it we can always make moves in the season. What you see Opening Day will most likely not be the same as it will be August 1. So for now, let’s fix the two most glaring needs: Second Base and Catcher. These have been mentioned as needs but most seem to think the rotation is the most important.

If we can get the likes of a Ryan Hanigan (in a trade using our surplus of relievers and perhaps an outfielder in the likes of Moises Sierra or Anthony Gose) and Omar Infante it would definitely help with the bat and some solid defense in both cases. How good could our pitchers have been at the beginning of last season if the gaping holes in the defense had been filled? Melky Cabrera is apparently looking good and in the past has been a decent defender. If he is better than we have a pretty solid outfield defense along with the ever improving Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista. Brett Lawrie and Jose Reyes are a dynamite combo and with the range of Lawrie it helps to hide Reyes’ slowly eroding range. Left side, Edwin Encarnacion and has been pretty good (as has Adam Lind) so one of the above beside either of our first basemen would be a pretty solid right side. Add that to the great defense of Hanigan and I am quite sure we will be saving lots of runs with our gloves.

If we can avoid the large amount of home runs we give up this is a contending team. Sometimes you just have to not do anything. Pat Gillick did nothing for almost three years and that led to two championships. Alex Anthopoulos threw his wad in during the last off-season. He isn’t going to do it again. Defense is what this team truly needs and the deals are out there to help with that. AA…your move.

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Tags: Adam Lind Alex Anthopoulos Brandon Morrow Brett Lawrie Edwin Encarnacion Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    I agree with you about the pitching. Well other than how high you have Happ rated. I would have him near the bottom. Waste of a roster space if you ask me HOWEVER…

    I think our rotation last year was not as bad as many people made it out to be. Yes the numbers sucked BUT Dickey and Buerhle started horribly. If they can get to career averages a little quicker this year, I think we will be OK. Morrow, he’s a toss up. Never proven anything as a stater. He can dominate a game one night, and be 100% responsible for the loss the next. We used some really bad starters to fill the backend of the rotation with all the injuries until Redmond came along (remember Wong? *shudders*). With the depth we have, A rotation of Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow, and two of the other guys you mentioned HAS to be better than last years rotation. Gibby and AA need to have a short leash with these guys this year. If you screw up, there will be one of 9 suitable replacements for you who are dying to take your places.

  • Justin Jay

    I’m with Andrew on this. Staff started out pretty poorly, but the injuries are a consistent theme with the pitching staff. The 2 most reliable pitchers came from outside the organization last season. I just don’t know how successful a team can be with their #1 guy being a knuckleball pitcher and their #2 throws 84-85 MPH FBs. I’m not sold on Redmond yet either. I think of Josh Towers though the 2 aren’t all that similar in pitching style. Morrow NEEDS TO BE the #1. NEEDS TO… period. And I just don’t think we’re going to see it anymore. Just like Andrew said, you see flashes of brilliance surrounded by inexplicable and utter disaster.

    As far as the Gillick comment goes, I wouldn’t say he did nothing. Traded McGriff for Carter and Alomar. Signed Jack Morris. Traded for David Cone. Signed Dave Winfield. Traded for Paul Molitor. Traded for Ricky Henderson. Even acquired Dave Stewart. I wouldn’t say he did nothing for 3 years.

    • Tallboywrites

      3 years before he made The Trade is what i meant.

      • Tallboywrites

        After the trade he went trade crazy. There used to be a running tab in the Star that counted how many days had gone by since making a trade.

        • Justin Jay

          haha,,, so you’re Tallboywrites.

          • Tallboywrites

            The aura has faded. .haha

  • Bob Loblaw

    I disagree. So many of our depth guys have learning curves to go through. We can’t look at them as reliable options because they havn’t shown they will be. If we had a year to dish out a healthy amount of major league starts to these guys, we could figure out if any of them stick or if some need more time. The majors and minors are just two different games.

    Also, I don’t mind Happ at all for a back-end starter. I just think he’d have more value for other teams, especially with a fly-ball friendly park. I’d rather sign Feldman to play that role at the Vargas rate, in order to have years of control to trade, if need be.

    Also, quality pitching backed up by good defense and timely hitting from smart, patient at-bats wins championships.

    • Dan Dantana

      I think now is the time to upgrade the rotation with a #2, or #3 SP via free agency when the acquisition cost is only money. Waiting until the summer will only deplete the farm system further and possibly cost us Stroman or Sanchez in a trade. Hanigan for Gose? – Ridiculous

      • Tallboywrites

        Ridiculous? Sell high on potential. He hasn’t done anything to show he is anything more than average with speed and potential. Did I say Stroman or Sanchez? No. Don’t put words in my mouth. I said in season trade. That’s all. And btw….what 2 or 3 is still out there worth the money we would need to give up? Garza? He is not coming here. Nane another FA that would be our 2 or 3…

        • Dan Dantana

          Ummm….i believe I used the word “possibly” in reference to “possibly” having to give up Stroman or Sanchez in a mid-season trade for a pitcher – so exactly how is that putting words in your mouth? And what exactly has Hanigan shown? Maybe make a play for Tanaka or Ubaldo before having to go the prospect route.

          • Andrew van Laar

            You can’t hitch your horses to the Tanaka with the posting system up in the air. If that deal isn’t sorted out, theres no Tanaka for anyone.

      • Bob Loblaw

        If the money is available, I would absolutely prefer that route.

        Gose for Hanigan? Waiting for the summer? I dunno who suggested that, but no way.

  • Ryan

    Upgrade the infield defense behind the plate and at 2B (which Goins did a great job at last year) and the pitching numbers will improve. Then relying on younger guys like Stroman and Hutch won’t be any worse then what we had to deal with this year.