That's the Spirit
They were, quite clearly, the kind of splashy moves many Blue Jays fans were hoping to see from Alex Anthopoulos this winter. That it was the division rival Yankees that made the moves after a snoozy winter only deepens the perception that the Jays have been less than aggressive in bolstering their lineup.
On the weekend, the Yankees dispatched young catcher Jesus Montero, impressive in a September audition last season, and pitcher Hector Noesi to the offence-hungry Seattle Mariners in exchange for 23-year-old, 6-foot-7 righthanded starter Michael Pineda and 19-year-old pitcher Jose Campos. In a nearly simultaneous move, New York also signed another starting pitcher, 37-year-old veteran Hiroki Kuroda, to a one-year, $10 million deal.
Just like that, the Yanks augmented a rotation that was viewed by many as suspect. The belief is that Pineda - strong in the first half last year for the light-hitting M's, not so strong in the second half - will move into the No. 2 slot in the rotation behind C.C. Sabathia. The futures of Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett are unclear, but the Yankees are now dealing from pitching depth.
Neither move was cheap. Montero, even though his defence was suspect, was the big bat of the future, and it's worth wondering if the Jays would have been inclined to make that kind of move if it involved catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, scheduled to play in AAA Las Vegas this season with possiblity of being a September callup. The Jays GM, to be fair, has shown a willingness in the past to trade valuable piece for valuable piece (Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie).
The money spent on Kuroda, meanwhile, probably takes the Yankees out of the bidding for Prince Fielder if they were ever really in it.
Certainly, it's fair to say the Jays and the Yankees are in very different situations, both financially and with the age of their respective lineups. At the same time, they're in the same division fighting for the same playoff berths, and Toronto's off-season additions of three arms to the bullpen and a couple of bench bats certainly don't measure up in terms of headline grabbing significance as those of the Yankees.
The biggest news of the Blue Jays off-season was the swing-and-a-miss on Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, although Anthopoulos might argue it really was the addition of closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox. Many, however, believed the Jays needed to do something significant with their rotation and make the kind of improvements the Yankees appeared to have made with Pineda and Kuroda.
We'll see if New York has made the right additions. Certainly, new Boston manager Bobby Valentine made it clear on the weekend he wasn't impressed. Anthopoulos last week said he believes Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan - question mark, unproven and question mark - will make up Toronto's rotation behind ace Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, and maybe he didn't have the pieces to put together a deal to land a young pitcher like Pineda. Maybe a vet like Kuroda would have no interest in pitching in Toronto.
But for those unhappy with what the Jays haven't done this off-season, with the moves they haven't made, it was another weekend to wonder if and when the Jays will spend and add game-changing talent.