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.