Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

What if Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Season Mirrors 2013?

blue jays 2014

Feb 27, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Players line the baselines before the Philadelphia Phillies play the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring training exhibition game at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Reading Charlie Caskey’s post yesterday morning on Keith Law’s ranking of the Toronto Blue Jays system got me thinking. Every year prospects are injured, some prospect surprise and some sky rocket up two levels, and some disappoint. Charlie did a great job emphasizing where the talent gaps exists in the Blue Jays minor league system. He also pointed out and how quickly it could disappear. But what if the Blue Jays 2014 season results mirror 2013?  I mean what if the Blue Jays are unable to compete in the AL East, what if the 2014 Blue Jays play well, but all the moves Baltimore and New York made this off-season, coupled with another strong season out of Boston and Tampa are too tall a task for the 2014 Blue Jays?

Let’s say, at the All-Star break, we are sitting in last place in the AL East.  The Jays are over .500 and for the most part healthy.  The Jays are around 10 games back of the final Wild Card, you know that stupid one that results in a one game playoff, ya that one. What would you do if you were just hired as the GM and handed the keys and tasked with righting the ship?  What do you do?

If I were the GM, I would pull a Jeffrey Loria, and trade everyone on the 40-man roster over 28ish for as many mid to high level prospects as possible.  That would exclude the following position players Brett Lawrie, Anthony Gose, Ryan Goins, Moises Sierra, Kevin Pillar, and Kenny Wilson.  I would hold onto as much young pitching as possible but would move anyone entering or already in their 30’s.

These moves would certainly be met with tremendous backlash from the media and fans alike, but would be a necessary evil.  After the trade dust settles, we would be left with a team that resembles an expansion team or the Houston Astros or with any luck the Miami Marlins. These trades would be designed to bridge the gap between the upper minor league levels and the lower minor league levels. The major league roster would be filled with guys who could use one more year in AAA and guys willing to sign a one year deal with the hopes of parlaying a good season into free agent winnings.

Last season the Blue Jays filled injures with career minor leaguers. They just didn’t have the prospects in Buffalo ready to take over because the guys who could have filled in were still recovering from injures suffered in 2012 (Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek). This year, AA has better options in Buffalo, options that include possible future potential, not just…jeez, I hope he can give me 10 good starts be the league figures him out.  Unfortunately, the same options don’t exist for our position players.

I think that we could fill the outfield, first base, catcher and DH.  We would still have Lawrie and Goins so a replacement for Jose Reyes, or two, would have to be included in one of the trades.  Unless  Kevin Nolan or Andy Burns (he would play second and Goins could move over to short) showed enough by then to warrant a call to see what they can do. Pitching would be filled by who ever was not traded and would ideally include (remember this is July/August) Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin, Chad Jenkins, Hutchison, and Drabek. We could also expect to see one or two starters from the trades being included in this rotation.

My philosophy as a couch GM is to hold onto all high level minor league talent and trade any non-All Star major leaguer for more prospects, when it becomes apparent that what you have in the minors is better/ready. That is what I would do if at the All Star break it was evident 2014 was not going to end with a playoff run….so know it’s your turn to tell me what you would do.

P.S. Please don’t judge me too harshly.

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Tags: 2014 Top Prospects Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    I have a similar view as you Ryan however I think we may differ in one way. I would trade EE, Bautista, Reyes, Dickey, Buehrle (If you can move him) and any other highly paid/old player that can be moved for prospects. However, I would not rush young guys into full time playing roles if they are not ready. I wouldn’t want to mess up a young guy by bringing him up to early.

    But I agree.. if this year we are horrible, the ship needs to be blown, the farm needs to be stocked and we need to start from scratch. I was really hoping that the trades we did last year wouldn’t have happened till 2015-16 but once they did I thought OK lets give this a go.

    Here’s to hoping 2014 is at least a competitive season or else we may be in stock for long 3-4 years rebuilding again.

    • Ryan Mueller

      Rushing young players is always a risky play, but as fans we always seem to beg management to gamble on international signing or trades or on FA signings. So maybe rolling the dice on a guy like Pillar or what we are going to do with Goins this year is worth the risk. I am taking about rushing guys that are going into this year in AAA or AA, not A+ or Low A ball….that is just crazy talk; however, look at what the Marlins did with José Fernández. I wish we had a José Fernández.

    • Momus

      Agreed. I hope 2014 is a winning season with a lot less health problems than 2013, but if things start going pear-shaped again then it’s time to start moving veterans for prospects. I would bring in a bunch of low-cost placeholder players to keep the positions warm for the youth and wait for it to mature – very much the way Tampa has done over the years.

  • Jay Blue

    Good post Ryan. I actually think that the Blue Jays, pitching-wise, would be better off than most people think if they were to follow your plan. Unfortunately, the offense would certainly be an issue with very few star-calibre hitters coming through the system (although trading EE and Jose Bautista, you could certainly target some bats).

    I think Burns will end up the most likely candidate to do some big league damage and, as much as I love his defense at third, I think he’s more suited to the outfield than to second base (although he was a shortstop through until 2012).

    • Ryan Mueller

      I agree, the jays need more power bats in their system. Easier said then do. There are a couple guys in the lower minors that we can keep an eye on, but you already know that. I am really hoping Nay and Tellez have monster years in 2014 and sky rockets up the system.

  • Justin Jay

    For starters, if the Jays are over .500 and in last in the AL East, I guarantee they won’t be 10 GB the 2nd playoff spot as that means every team in the AL East will be over .500 and that means there are A LOT of bad teams. Grading out, Houston will be bad, as will the White Sox and Twins. As bad as they will be, there’s no way they’ll be winless, which is essentially what we’re saying in this scenario as the entire AL East is over .500, and the Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Indians, Tigers, and Royals are all expected to compete. So realistically, this won’t happen.

    What would be more likely to happen is the Jays increased health will not offset the Orioles, Yankees, and Rays improvements. The Red Sox didn’t do any improving, but with their depth, they’re obviously still dangerous. From some accounts, the Orioles may not be done upgrading either. So that may all be a bit much to overcome in itself… and in this division, if things don’t pan out for Toronto, they’ll look like the Twins and White Sox… and maybe the Astros. They’ll be the divisional whipping boy.

    I wrote about what they should do in June of last year. I said “blow it up.” I stand by that. It starts at the top and in order to understand how to make this club better in terms of development and signing, they need to take a cue from teams that are familiar to winning. Jason did an excellent job of introducing us to our own minor league system. The Jays would need to do something like that of successful instructors in OTHER minor league systems and implement a staff full of guys that can develop prospects. We need a GM that’s capable of filling the needs via FA or trading to acquire what we need, a la Rays system. It’s great that AA can define what the team needs. If not, the fans practically did it for him. Yet nothing was done. Also, the ownership needs to be committed. We hear they are, but the inability to address this clubs needs says otherwise.

    • Ryan Mueller

      I was happy that they didn’t blow it up last year. I feel/felt that they would be better in 2014….just not sure how much better. You don’t trade the farm away and when things don’t go right, sell at their lowest value. AA would not have been able to get equal value in return, AA’s only move was to hold on and hope for better results in 2014.