Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Re-birth

Suddenly and emphatically the Toronto Blue Jays announced they are back on the scene 

It will be easy to say this is a risky move by the Jays, that they took on too much money and too many bad contracts. It is. They did.

Jose Reyes got overpaid as a free agent last year (6 years, $106M) and missed good chunks of the three years before that (playing in 295 of a possible 486 games). Josh Johnson is a total gamble*.

Mark Buehrle is by far the surest thing in this deal for the Jays, but he'll be 34 by the time next season starts and has somewhat improbably made at least 30 starts and pitched 200+ innings every year since moving into the starting rotation to begin his second major league season back in 2001.

Those three, along with John Buck and Emilio Bonifaco will cost Toronto over $160M in salary. If Reyes is trending down, if Johnson gets hurt, and if the mileage catches up to Buehrle, it could easily go all wrong.

But even if that scenario plays out, what does it mean? Another 3rd, 4th or 5th place finish? If it doesn't work, it's just status quo. Jays fans are used to it.

Which is why so many of us are thrilled not so much with the actual components of the trade, but that Anthopoulos ultimately pulled the trigger and ownership actually approved it.

And on the bright side, Reyes fills obvious needs both at the top of the order and in the stolen base department. With only 1 year remaining on his hefty $13.75M contract, the 28 year-old supremely-talented Johnson is a chance worth taking. Buehrle is a workhorse, a dependable veteran presence who has won in the playoffs.
This trade was a bold move. It might not translate into playoff games for the Blue Jays, but at least it finally feels like they're truly trying to get there again.
*After a very good rookie year in 2006, Johnson missed almost all of 2007 and more than half of 2008. Johnson was then dominant in 2009 and 2010 (he was briefly considered the best pitcher on the planet during one stretch) but missed most of 2011 (only 9 starts) and was only okay last year when he stayed healthy and pitched 191 innings. For 2013, you really have no idea what to expect out of him.