There are 3 things that have occurred, or are about to occur, recently that affect the 2011 season of the Toronto Blue Jays. Some of them are good for the Jays organization as a whole, some of them are bad, and others depend on the price and the landing spot. The topics in question are the Eric Chavez signing with the Yankees, the Vladimir Guerrero signing with the Orioles, and the possible dealing of Michael Young from the Rangers to another club.
Some fans will disagree with me, but I’m ecstatic that the Jays did not add Eric Chavez to their bench for the 2011 season. If he had been added, he would have either taken a bench spot away from a younger – better – healthier option, or would have taken Brett Lawrie‘s spot in AAA at the hot corner, which would have either pushed him down to AA or to another position. Either one is a bad option at this point and the Jays are better off with him in New York.
The other reason that this is a win for the Jays is that it means one of 2 things for the Yankees: either they have internal questions about Jorge Posada as a DH, or they have some questions about the health of Alex Rodriguez. In either case, it means that those 2 aging and injury prone players will be joined by yet another, and that’s a great thing for the Jays. They could have chosen to add a healthy option instead, which would have made them better and a better opponent against the Jays. I’m not taking anything away from Chavez and wish him the best in AAA, I just don’t believe he is an impact player that can stay healthy anymore.
Then we have to take into consideration the additions of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon in New York. The latter is going to be 38 in May and didn’t pitch in 2010, and then former will be 36 in June and had a 4.64 ERA with a 1.376 whip in the AL Central in 2010. To make matters worse for the Yankees, Garcia was crushed by the Jays in 2010 to the tune of 7 ER over 3 innings, good for a 21 ERA. In fact, his career stats in 76.2 innings against the Blue Jays include a 6.10 ERA, 93 hits, 38 walks, 68 SO, and a 1.709 whip. Garcia’s stats are better against the Rays and Red Sox, but still leave something to be desired against the Orioles. At his age, they’re not likely to get any better.
That sounds like a win-win scenario for the Jays and other AL East members to me!
I was crushed to hear that the Orioles added Vladimir Guerrero. Not only was I sad to not see him added to the Jays roster, but I know that the Jays were able to win 15 games against the Orioles in 2010, something that they’re now very unlikely to repeat. There’s a reason that I have yet to make any 2011 season predictions, and this kind of addition within the AL East is a perfect example. There’s still time for other additions to be made within the AL East, but this one is one that may hurt the chances of the Jays winning more than 80 games most. He alters and stabilizes the Orioles lineup a ton, adds the veteran leadership they were missing in the clubhouse, and will undoubtedly relish being in the spotlight of the AL East for the first time. While the Jays remained young and kept their options open for the bench by not adding Vladdy, they also ensured that their road to an 80 plus win season would be as hard as possible.
Not only did the Jays not add Vladdy, but they also saw the Rays add Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez – two self-proclaimed idiots from the 2004 Red Sox championship team. Sure, the Rays lost a ton of talent this off season in Matt Garza, Carl Crawford, and Carlos Pena, but they added enough with these 2 to help maintain a very effective lineup for what is a very capable rotation. Even with the added youth of Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays can’t be discounted as wild card chasers and are still ahead of Toronto until proven otherwise. There’s a possibility that Man Ram and the Caveman could become distractions in TB, but their clubhouse is very happy to have them, Joe Maddon is the best manager to keep them cohesive, and Manny in particular may be the most motivated to perform after signing for only $2 million and being shunned by the Blue Jays after stating he’d love to join them and John Farrell.
Altogether, the Jays now have an extremely tough road to a winning season within a much tougher AL East than they faced in 2010.
And Then Some
I’ll touch on this in a full post dedicated to the subject, but the Jays are once again “supposedly” in the running for the services of Michael Young. While the Jays did free up some payroll flexibility and do seem to have an open line of communication with the Rangers after completing the Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco deal, it seems unlikely that they’d chase an expensive infield option at this point. Still, it’s worth looking into and there are many reasons that he’d make sense for the Jays. I’m just not certain that they could eat as much contract as the Rangers may want to unload at this point. Alex Anthopoulos has stated over and over again that he’d like to use the money saved from the Vernon Wells deal to acquire the best players in the draft and the international market, which makes them unlikely candidates to chase the likes of Young.
The February 5th article by Ken Rosenthal, Jon Paul Morosi, and Tracy Ringbolsy of Fox Sports states that:
"“While the Rangers are not talking to any other club about Young, other sources paint a less optimistic picture of the discussions, saying the Rockies are confused by the Rangers’ “mixed messages.””"
My point here would be this one: if Alex Anthopoulos is sitting in his office and hears that the Rangers are not seeing eye-to-eye with the Rockies in terms of a deal for Young, he could want to get involved in some way, shape, or form. Whether it’s acquiring Michael Young or being a 3rd team in a deal, Anthopoulos seems to find a way to get what he wants from one of the teams involved. Instead of looking at Young as an option for the Jays, could the Jays ask for Ian Stewart instead and eat some of the money the Rangers are looking to unload? Stewart is younger, is a better defensive option at 3B, and was just signed to a $2,287,500 contract. He’s also arbitration eligible through 2013, hitting free agency after that in 2014 (contract information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts).
The last example was just one scenario of many that could occur, and it likely would be complicated altogether, but it is a real possibility aside from simply acquiring Michael Young outright. If the Jays want a long-term option at 3B, they could look to get involved with the Rockies-Rangers and help them make a deal happen. If they have to eat some money to make the Jays better over the long-term, so be it. Alex Anthopoulos did the same thing when he dealt Roy Halladay ($6,000,000), when he dealt Vernon Wells ($5,000,000), and when he dealt for Miguel Olivo ($500,000). The Jays have unloaded enough money in recent years to take on some salary without impeding on other possibilities.
I still doubt very much that the Jays are heavily involved in the Michael Young deal, but there are some valid reasons for them to get involved. More on this subject will be examined in my next article.
However, the reason I include the Young rumors in this article as well is because the “Win Some” and Lose Some” categories listed above can have an impact on how much interest the Jays have in Michael Young or other deals. I know that Alex Anthopoulos does not seem at all to be the type to overreact to additions made by other teams in the division, but unless the Jays do something to improve the club’s prospects in 2011, he could very well find himself wearing the brunt of the blame if the Jays finish last in the AL East. That’s enough motivation for him to be on the lookout for any possible way to satisfy both his need to make the Jays better over the long-term, while simultaneously making the Jays as competitive as possible in 2011. Adding Michael Young to play 2B or 3B and shifting Jose Bautista to the OF makes the Jays a lot more competitive in 2011, but would it cost more than he’s willing to pay in terms of money and player(s)?
We’ll find out soon enough. But, the additions made in the AL East in recent days have me wondering, and then some.