Okay, Now I Get It
Am looking forward to a chance, hopefully in the near future, to meet and chat with Blue Jays baseball boss Alex Anthopoulos for the first time.
That said, I feel like I know Anthopoulos better than I did last week, or at least I better comprehend his intentions with this ball club.
See, when J.P. Ricciardi was running the Blue Jays, whenever it seemed like his plan was clear, he went to a different plan. One day he was promising the Jays would become Minnesota East, all about developing players and being resourceful and playing the right way, and the next he was signing A.J. Burnett and Frank Thomas.
Maybe it was Ricciardi, maybe it was Paul Godfrey, maybe it was the changing motivations of ownership. Who knows? But the "plan" shifted and changed, and not only did tomorrow never come, today never did either.
Which brings us to Anthopoulos. When the ball club managed to do a fair sight better last season than many believed it would, there were suggestions in many corners than bolstering this position or that position would vault the Jays into a playoff spot.
Given that Anthopoulos had been preaching restraint and a gradual rebuild, I was intriguing to see what his response would be.
Well, first starting pitcher Shaun Marcum was peddled to Milwaukee for young second baseman Brett Lawrie. Okay, that went with the get young, grow-as-a-group mentality, but immediately there was speculation that the Jays would pursue Kansas City's Zack Greinke, which would be precisely the chasing-your-tail move that Ricciardi would have pulled off.
But that didn't happen. Instead, last week came the Vernon Wells deal with Anaheim. It wasn't about getting kids back, but it was about moving a gi-normous contract held by a good to very good player who didn't seem too bothered he was only good to very good and never great. Two players, an aging outfielder and a catcher who doesn't seem to quite fit, came back, but they were certainly not the kind of ballplayers who fit the win-now mentality. This was about clearing the decks.
So barring some sideways move between now and spring training, I get it. Anthopoulos appears to have a plan and a timetable, and despite the suggestions of many, it wasn't to win in 2011. Once the Jays decided not to take at run at Florida 2B Dan Uggla - and they looked at it hard - it was in essence a vote of confidence in the slow, gradual build.
Jays fans who have been waiting for a winner for getting on 20 years, naturally, might find this all a tad annoying. But with the AL East in a bit of turmoil, and with Tampa Bay having proven that you don't have to spend with the Yankees to compete with the Yankees, the logic of the Jays choosing this path was indisputable.
They might not win this way. But they were never going to win the other way.