I have no idea why, but Jays fan are buzzing with excitement these days. It might have something to do with the huge trade that GM Alex Anthopoulos pulled off with the Florida Marlins. In a 12 player deal, the Jays got some high priced help to lead them to a new and promising season which will hopefully end in a World Series ring. Big name players they acquired include Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Melky Cabrera. Team president Paul Beeston and Anthopoulos must be really proud of themselves having added over 50 million dollars to their payroll with these “top quality” guys.
To manage this top drawer squad, they even brought back John Gibbons because they needed someone who they could fire again if it didn’t work out. The fans are sure excited as sales of Jays merchandise and season tickets have spiked since then. If it’s anything that Toronto loves, it’s a bona-fide star. Now that the Jays are stacked with stars, fans and analysts have been falling all over themselves to declare this coming year’s squad as contenders. Imagine that. Contenders. The question here is contenders of what? Contenders for a World Series title? Highly unlikely. Contenders for most disappointing team? More likely.
It’s been about 19 years since the Blue Jays have won the World Series. If that surprises you, it’s most likely because you’re getting old but you didn’t notice it. Since then, it’s been mostly downhill from there. Back in 1992 and 1993, the Jays signed the right players and were in the right place at the right time. They’ve been trying to replicate that magic moment for the last 13 years and with the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos in 2009 as the GM, the Blue Jays have been starting the seasons on a promising note, only to burn and crash by September. This has happened every year under Anthopoulos, and still the man has a job. In fact, they even gave him the green light to break open the bank this year. Either the Jays upper management are fools or they just don’t care.
Let’s take a closer look at the trade and the new Jays team to see why the Jays will crash in early August again.
Salary dump – I’m pretty impressed with the Florida Marlins’ ability to dump players that they don’t want anymore and are costing them too much money to keep around. Josh Johnson recorded a sparkling 8-14 record last year, with the Jays, his salary will be 13.75 millions dollars, making him the second highest paid player behind Jose Bautista. Mark Buehrle had a pedestrian 13-13 record last year and this year the Jays will pay him 7 millions dollars. The Marlins also dumped Jose Reyes and now the Jays get to pay him 10 millions dollars a year to be an above average player. John Buck is another player included in the deal and he will be paid 6.5 million dollars. Buck hit a spectacular .192 and 12 homeruns last year. While I’m impressed with the Marlin’s player dumping prowess, I’m equally impressed with the Blue Jays penchant for acquiring non-impact players and paying them handsomely.
Batters – Jose Bautista is going to hit home runs again this coming year, but he will also go through his usual slumps. He makes the most money at 14 million dollars a year, but at least he has been a good spokesman for the Jays. Bautista is really a good guy, so it’s hard for me to say this, but he is not a superstar. He can hit home runs, but if baseball were just about home runs, well then don’t you think the Jays should have at least made it to the postseason in the last few years? Jose Reyes should produce as he went .287 with 11 home runs last year, but he is also the guy that took himself out of the game to preserve his hitting average title when he last played with the New York Mets. So essentially what we have is a selfish player who is only concerned about his stats. Stats will not be a problem for Reyes in Toronto, as they love hitting the long bomb. Melky Cabrera had great stats last year hitting .346 with 11 home runs, but he was also suspended for 50 games for using performance enhancing drugs. In other words he will crash this year because all eyes will be on him in case he wants to cheat again. Beyond that the Jays still have the usual suspects including Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, and Adam Lind to name a few. This year’s Jay may actually hit less home runs than last year afterall.
Pitchers – Last year, the pitchers were the main problem for the Jays. With the addition of Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, the Jays hope to vaunt themselves to elite status. So let’s take a look at the possible starting rotation. That would be Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, and a bunch of scrubs. Sounds pretty good so far right?
Manager – John Farrell took off to manage the Boston Red Sox. So to replace him, the Jays decided to hire John Gibbons. This might be the most questionable move in this hiring frenzy the Jays went through. Gibbons was the manager from 2004 – 2008 and as such didn’t produce any results despite having a pretty good lineup including Troy Glaus, A.J. Burnett, Roy Halliday, Lyle Overbay, and B.J. Ryan. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’m not saying the Jays are insane, but they should probably get it checked out.
The Jays have done the same thing every year since Anthopoulos took over as GM. Make blockbuster trades and promise a great season. By the end of summer the Jays have fallen out of contention early due to slumping hitting and equally bad pitching.
This year, Anthopoulos promises it will be different because they spent 125 million dollars on the team, saddling them with the 8th highest payroll in the MLB. So if you are feeling all tingly inside at the thought of next year’s Jay’s season, it could more likely be that you need to get in out of the cold.