The Blue Jays Payroll 2013: A Reader’s thoughts On The Jays Part 7 of a 7 Article Series

Wednesday, September.12/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  Sometimes at the Reports, we are fortunate to have someone take out some serious time to write a huge-detailed explanation of their thoughts on a piece we have written about.  I was blown away by the enthusiasm of one of these such readers.  Alex Mednick and I started back and forth on the piece I wrote about the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays and I suggested that we should give his analysis a full appreciation by posting it in a guest column for him,  So this is Alex’s guest column:

Alex Anthopoulos has fixed a lot of the problems that J.P. Ricciardi left him with. It will take a few more years to see the club reap the benefits of the stock-piled talent coming from the replenished Minor League System.

Alex Mednick: (Special Guest Writer):

Update after the Nov.13 Trade with Miami:

Man, I gotta say…The move with the Miami Marlins made by the Blue Jays shows that management want’s to play ball.  Signing Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle give the Blue Jays two bonafide front-end starters to add into the mix in 2013.  With a healthy year from Johnson and Morrow, you’ve got to guys with electric stuff going 1-2, and Buehrle is about as solid of a #3 any team could wish for.  Romero in the number 4 slot, takes a lot of pressure off of him to bounce back, and even if he can simply perform at 90% of what he is capable of…it’s a pretty sight for the Blue Jays to have this kind of rotation in the AL East.  Management definitely quieted some dubious fans and put it’s money where it’s mouth is!  

The signing of 29 year old Jose Reyes gives the Blue Jays a superstar shortstop up the middle for the next 5 years.  A guy to lead off who gets on base and steals 40+ bases a year will be very nice to set up the table for Bautista, Encarnacaion and Lawrie.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays still added some more pop to the lineup by trading for an offensively minded left fielder or DH.  

The Blue Jays inherited a lot of salary from the deal, but only parted with a few prospects from their deep farm system (Nicolino…one of the Big 3 pitchers, Hechevarria, and Marisnick).  They now have Bonifacio and Izturis at 2nd base who are nearly identical players and can deal from a sudden strength there in a emaciated 2nd base market…and they have a plethora of catchers in another thin market, that they can trade.  Not to mention the remainder of their extensively talented farm system which they can use as trade bait.  

I don’t think the Blue Jays are happy with expecting Adam Lind to bounce back, and I’m unsure whether they are comfortable with Gose/Rasmus in CF either so I would expect them to bring in another outfielder or DH.  They already have incredible speed on the basepaths between Gose, Lawrie, Bonifacio, Reyes and Davis.  

They may still go after ANOTHER pitcher in the mold of Edwin Jackson, but it is doubtful that they want to spend any more money on the rotation after acquiring Johnson and Buehrle.  If they did anything it would likely be via trade, but why when they have Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, JA Happ and a bunch of other great 5th starter possibilities laying in wait?  They are more likely at this point to use trading chips for offense/and or bench players.

The Blue Jays finally made a bold move that shows they recognize that with their current players/contracts/core and the current health of the AL East…the time to strike was now…we couldn’t continue to wait for a rich farm to develop and then harvest.  Who would have ever guessed that the two front end starters we required this offseason would come in a single trade? Out of nowhere! And we knew that Yunel Escobar was on the trading block, but we never would have expected to have a Super Star like Jose Reyes at SS for the next 5 years?  I know the Blue Jays inquired on Reyes last year during the offseason, but wow…All we can say is “Thank you Mr. Loria”.

I really enjoyed your analysis of the Blue Jays future (for that blog click here ) along with your digest of the various possibilities and directions that may chose going forward.

Furthermore, you hit the nail on the head: When Alex Anthopoulos  inherited this team from J.P. Ricciardi, he was merely a protégé of a failed, and over-hyped GM (Ricciardi), who was the protégé of Billy Beane…possibly also “over-hyped”. If Anthopoulos learned anything from his time working under J.P. Ricciardi, and his time sweeping floors in Montreal it may have been this: “While some people may quantify your value based on perceived potential, it is best to quantify yourself on what you have actually done”. Therefore, Anthoploulos wasted no time making moves and proving to all of Canada (along with most of baseball) that he truly is a Ninja. Somehow, someway…he was able to convince the Angels brass, and the ChiSox to fill in the holes that Ricciardi had dug with contract extensions to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios (respectively).

For Part 1 of a 7 Part Article Series:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993, click here

For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here:

Ricky Romero has had a brutal second half after starting 8-1. The Jays will need him to rebound in 2013 in anchoring the pitching staff

I may disagree with the notion that it is a requirement that a team in the AL East spend north of 9 figures to compete…this is an argument you would have never heard from me Pre-2008, when the Tampa Bay Rays went from “worst to first” with a relatively tiny payroll compared to the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at that time. That being said, the Blue Jays do not have the benefit of being absolutely horrendous for a full decade and receiving a majority of first round picks over the course of 10 years. In fact, the Blue Jays have made a point of being the most consistently under the radar, “above average” team over the past 20 years (since 1994). The have consistently won 80+ games playing in a division in which they face the Red Sox, Yankees (and now) the Rays 18 times a year each. It is also worth noting that following 1993, the Blue Jays were poised to make a run at back-to-back-to-BACK championships when the Players Union opted to go on strike and completely destroy the franchises momentum. Geographically, it could also be argued that when the Milwaukee Brewers were repositioned into the National League West, that this could have, or should have, instead been the Toronto Blue Jays. Had addition of the second wild card team been added years ago, the Blue Jays would have had a few more chances at a playoff run than they have had in their 19 year post season drought. This was done in the AL East…I would love to see their chances again the Cincinnati Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates and Astros of the 90s and 00s.

That being said, the Toronto Blue Jays have been absolutely plagued by injuries for three consecutive seasons now. While rebuilding a team Tampa Bay Rays style, with a ton of high-ceiling talent with speed, athleticism and intangibles such as drive and “gameness” as a focus, the Blue Jays have gone from having one of the worst Farm Systems, to arguably the best. Ninja GM Alex Anthopoulos became a master of the old rules in Major League Baseball, converting Type A and B free agents who would not likely accept arbitration into draft picks. Now that this strategy is defunct, he still has the largest scouting facility in the Dominican Republic and the most scouts in baseball; constantly surveying the 7 continents for top talent. The number of high-profile, 15-18 year old international signings that the Blue Jays have made during the past three years goes, for the most part, unnoticed. There is also a gap in the Blue Jays farm system due to a change in philosophy from the preceding GM (JP Ricciardi), to the current man in charge (Alex Anthopoulos). While Ricciardi preferred to draft highly sign-able, sure-bet college juniors and seniors, Alex Anthopoulos prefers to invest in younger, higher ceiling prospects that come with a little more risk and about 4-5 years more in the cooker before they are ready to serve. So the number of injuries that the Blue Jays have seen in the past three seasons has really forced the Blue Jays to utilize their depth…but it must be noticed that while our 5 man rotation has gone to AA and AAA for fill-in’s…there is a plethora of talent swinging bats and throwing curves in the rookie league and at Blue Jays camps around the globe. They are very excited to be playing in Toronto 3 years from now.

The Blue Jays may see an all defensive unit of Yunel Escobar (SS) and Adeiny Hechavarria (2B)with outgoing Free Agent 2B Kelly Johnson. The club could sacrifice some offense to provide this kind of stellar defense.

The Blue Jays have a lineup that, barring injuries, is VERY exciting and sexy. They’ve got the Dominican Duo batting 3rd and 4th (Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion). A Dominican Trio where Manager Farrell wedges his buddy David Ortiz in there (shifting Edwin to first base duties…sorry Adam Lind), would likely be appreciated by Blue Jays fans. Brett Lawrie brings his energy, speed, power and just all around baseball talent to the field everyday when he’s not hurt…and he is still young…he will only get better and more comfortable in the Big Leagues. His good friend, JP Arencibia, brings personality and an ability to work with any pitcher and to have enamored the entire nation of Canada with his power has been great to see.  JP having the ability to smack 25+ homeruns a year isn’t too shabby.  With this production, I think that the intangibles provided by JP Arencibia make top prospect Travis D’Arnaud a very nice trade prospect. If Yunel Escobar doesn’t get traded I think the Blue Jays go with an all Cuban middle infield with Yunel covering shortstop and defensive wizard (and speed demon) Adeiny Hechavarria manning second base.

We all know what Colby Rasmus can provide in centerfield, and he has shown glimpses on and off this year of his excellence. His groin injury has definitely been slowing him down lately. Lock him up. Show off Gose a little bit. Trade Gose. The Blue Jays have Jose Bautista locked up in right field for a while to come. Many Blue Jays fans were upset when “The Franchise”, Travis Snider, with whom they had a love affair, was traded to Pittsburgh last month. JP Ricciardi knew that his time as the Blue Jays GM was coming to an end when he was on Year 8 of his “5 Year Plan” to rebuild the Blue Jays. He had drafted a supreme specimen out of a Seattle High School named Travis Snider who oozed talent and looked and had the ability to bring hope to a city that was disgusted with its baseball franchise. Raking and meeting expectations at all levels of the minors, Travis Snider was used by Ricciardi as a scape goat…rushed through the minor leagues without the time to properly develop as a big league hitter, Travis Snider was mismanaged by the organization that drafted him. Frankly, while it would clearly be an unpopular transaction, Alex Anthopoulos made an intelligent move trading Travis Snider. Brad Lincoln is a very nice arm, former 1st round pick and will wear a Blue Jays uniform for years to come if all goes well. Travis Snider is a 25-year-old player who may or may not live up to his potential…but he was out of options. If he didn’t break out in Toronto in the next 12 months (roughly), the Blue Jays would have to give him up for a bag of balls. I would prefer Brad Lincoln.

Yes, the Blue Jays are without a power hitting left fielder. But when healthy they have the best power hitting right fielder in baseball, and a very imposing lineup that can steal bases and amazing defense. Add David Ortiz into the mix or a nice DH rental, and the Blue Jays can get by with Rajai Davis in left (the speed of Rajai Davis, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus and Adeiny Hechavarria will keep pitchers nerves rattled). It also needs to be considered who the Blue Jays will be able to receive in return for the plethora of trade-able talent they have…it is clear that Alex Anthopoulos has gone from “building the farm mode” to “the time is now mode”. Maybe Gose, maybe D’Arnaud along with some other minor league talent get traded for a bat?

If I had a say in the front office operations in Toronto, I would avoid paying 9 figures over an 8 year contract for a premier free agent bat because they felt they “had to” in today’s market. I don’t think Josh Hamilton is the answer…there are a lot of valuable, impact bats that are available for far less money and offense is not a problem in Toronto (when healthy).

With deep pockets within the ownership group (Rogers Communications Inc), the Jays may look to an ace pitcher in the off season like Greinke.

The Blue Jays have a TON of pitching talent in the farm system. A lot of this talent is still young and 3 or so years away. The three-way trade that brought Colby Rasmus to Toronto also traded away a lot of our “long arms” from the bullpen. Brad Lincoln is one answer to alleviate the Blue Jays bullpen woes, but I see a lot of our other prospects as “long arms” in the bullpen…not necessarily bonafide starters in the AL East. With ace Ricky Romero having a shaky 2013 season, I would say that the Blue Jays money would be best spent in the 2013 free agent class on starting pitchers. Young aces in their prime, that may accept a 2 or 3 year deal to continue building value and hit free agency again while they are still young make a lot of sense. Think Zack Greinke, Francisco Liriano, etc.

Even if these young aces will are not motivated to settle now and want their big payday in 2013, the Blue Jays and their ownership (Rogers Communication) have deep pockets and should be able and should be willing to invest in young, durable, proven starting pitching.

The difference between the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 versus the Tampa Bay Rays (two teams that have both stockpiled talent and can be contenders) might come down to money. The Rays have been contenders for 5 years now, but owner Stuart Sternberg has forced Andrew Friedman to watch top talent leave and to somehow work wonders to continually compete with dollar store acquisitions. The Blue Jays now have a nice major league team along with a lot of minor league equity to be used as trade bait. The Rogers family is one of the most wealthy families in North America (Steinbrenner’s can’t hold a flame to their bank accounts). While Tampa Bay Rays ownership have gambled on their teams ability to compete in the AL East during their window of opportunity, I feel that the Rogers’ need to take notes from the Steinbrenner’s. Ownership in Toronto is lucky enough to have a young, motivated and brilliant GM who has done everything right in getting this team to where it needs to be (injuries are not his fault). Go bring some AL East worthy starting pitchers to Toronto and let them compete in 2013 and beyond!

There is a nice batch of talent spread out amongst the organizations lower level farm teams. Dunedin, Lansing and Vancouver are all stacked with physical specimens that boast enormous potential. What is even more frightening (or exciting for a Blue Jays fan) is the surplus of talent we have signed internationally. The Toronto Blue Jays have training camps all across the Caribbean working to develop players that have demonstrated potential. The Blue Jays spend almost double what the next largest major league scouting organization does and has almost double the scouts searching for talent. Just as it is inconceivable that earth is the only planet in our solar system inhabited by life, I would bet my bottom dollar that there is at least one Manny Ramirez Jr. or Pedro Martinez Lite training in these camps.

For Part 1 of a 7 Part Article Series:  The Toronto Blue Jays Franchise 1977-1993, click here

For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series:  Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here

Adam Lind has lost his 30 HR and 100 RBI form and the Jays would be well-suited to go after a Full-Time DH and leave Edwin Encarnacion at first base. The Jays should try and trade Lind in the off-season to any takers

 *** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***

 Alex Mednick:  I’m a huge baseball fan who loves analyzing and writing about the greatest game in the world. I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut–which is pretty much the crossroads between the Yankee Empire and Red Sox Nation. My father is a Red Sox fan and my grandfather was a Yankees fan…you could imagine how functional our family functions were! I became a die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fan and have been referred to by many a Torontonian as the Ambassador from South of the Border. I was born in 1987 and the Blue Jays were awesome. Joe Carter is my all time hero. I hardly met any fellow Blue Jays fans until my first trips to Toronto and my years in college when I lived about 25 minutes away from Dunedin, FL…where they host spring training.  Now that I’ve graduated, I moved to the eastern coast of Florida and live 10 minutes south of the Mets training camp and High-A affiliate. Combined with the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Marlins/Cardinals spring home I am doing my best to get my baseball “fix”.

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Posted on September 12, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Man, I gotta say…The move with the Miami Marlins made by the Blue Jays shows that management want’s to play ball. Signing Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle give the Blue Jays two bonafide front-end starters to add into the mix in 2013. With a healthy year from Johnson and Morrow, you’ve got to guys with electric stuff going 1-2, and Buehrle is about as solid of a #3 any team could wish for. Romero in the number 4 slot, takes a lot of pressure off of him to bounce back, and even if he can simply perform at 90% of what he is capable of…it’s a pretty sight for the Blue Jays to have this kind of rotation in the AL East. Management definitely quieted some dubious fans and put it’s money where it’s mouth is!

    The signing of 29 year old Jose Reyes gives the Blue Jays a superstar shortstop up the middle for the next 5 years. A guy to lead off who gets on base and steals 40+ bases a year will be very nice to set up the table for Bautista, Encarnacaion and Lawrie. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays still added some more pop to the lineup by trading for an offensively minded left fielder or DH.

    The Blue Jays inherited a lot of salary from the deal, but only parted with a few prospects from their deep farm system (Nicolino…one of the Big 3 pitchers, Hechevarria, and Marisnick). They now have Bonifacio and Izturis at 2nd base who are nearly identical players and can deal from a sudden strength there in a emaciated 2nd base market…and they have a plethora of catchers in another thin market, that they can trade. Not to mention the remainder of their extensively talented farm system which they can use as trade bait.

    I don’t think the Blue Jays are happy with expecting Adam Lind to bounce back, and I’m unsure whether they are comfortable with Gose/Rasmus in CF either so I would expect them to bring in another outfielder or DH. They already have incredible speed on the basepaths between Gose, Lawrie, Bonifacio, Reyes and Davis.

    They may still go after ANOTHER pitcher in the mold of Edwin Jackson, but it is doubtful that they want to spend any more money on the rotation after acquiring Johnson and Buehrle. If they did anything it would likely be via trade, but why when they have Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, JA Happ and a bunch of other great 5th starter possibilities laying in wait? They are more likely at this point to use trading chips for offense/and or bench players.

    The Blue Jays finally made a bold move that shows they recognize that with their current players/contracts/core and the current health of the AL East…the time to strike was now…we couldn’t continue to wait for a rich farm to develop and then harvest. Who would have ever guessed that the two front end starters we required this offseason would come in a single trade? Out of nowhere! And we knew that Yunel Escobar was on the trading block, but we never would have expected to have a Super Star like Jose Reyes at SS for the next 5 years? I know the Blue Jays inquired on Reyes last year during the offseason, but wow…All we can say is “Thank you Mr. Loria”.

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