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.