Celebrate, But With a Modicum of Restraint
It's elation and "OMG, OMG!!" and "Happy Days Are Here Again," all with barely restrained glee at finally being the buyer and not the team selling off.
After all, it's a fire sale. And in a fire sale, the buyer always gets a fabulous bargain, right?
Well, not in sports. So let's just slow down a wee bit here.
This may work out to be the equivalent or better of the 10-player Doug Gilmour deal two decades ago, another deal that was partly motivated by a team (Calgary) looking to move salary, or at least players demanding more money.
But even that ridiculously one-sided trade had its limitations. Gilmour played parts of six seasons in Toronto, not 16, and the other pieces - Jamie Macoun, Rick Walmsley, Kent Manderville and Ric Nattress - were useful, but none were all-stars or impact players.
In Tuesday's gigantic Jays deal with the Miami Marlins, the Jays are hoping to land THREE impact players, not just one. If it turns out, for example, that Josh Johnson wins 18 games but Jose Reyes struggles with the $96 million left on his deal and picky Mark Buerhle doesn't want to play in Canada, well it won't be quite the same, will it? Or what if Johnson has no inclination to stay and bolts after next season as a free agent?
Or what if MLB decides no, no, no, this isn't a good deal for baseball? The headline on MLB.com this morning was "Jays, Marlins Working on Blockbuster," so there's some details and approvals still to be put in place here.
Moreover, the reality is that the Jays really don't know what they gave up in this trade. None of Adeiny Hecchevaria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani or Jake Marisnick were seen as untouchables, none as a Steven Strasburg or a Bryce Harper.
But no one imagined last spring that all of them, plus Travis Snider and Eric Thames and Yan Gomes and Asher Wojciechowski and Joe Musgrove and other pieces of the farm system, would all be peddled for immediate help.
That, of course, is partly why you have a farm system, to put in place assets that can be transferred for short-term need.
But that's a lot of wild cards the Jays have moved in a period of four months. Maybe none will turn out. But remember deals like the '07 swap in which Texas moved Mark Teixara to Atlanta for youngsters Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, all of whom became big-leaguers.
This is a major change in direction by Alex Anthopoulos and Co., all motivated not by logic or design, necessarily, but by an awful, injury-scarred 2012 season.
It's hard to say what the plan is now, other than win now.
One other point. Anthopoulos hasn't really made his reputation as a particularly astute trader in his young exective career. He's added lots of parts, and the most significant ones, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie and Travis d'Arnaud, are still very much in the developmental stage. Brandon Morrow, if he can stay healthy for a season or two, is probably AA's most significant success, although Brandon League turned out to be a player the Jays could surely have used.
That's how trades work. Very rarely are they as wildly one-sided as many Jays fans want to believe this one is.
Still, it was a good deal for the Jays to make, to attempt, and it comes at a time when Jays fans are responding more favourably at the gate and in TV numbers, but are also voicing concerns about the ownership and its willingness to spend.
instead of worrying about whether Ricky Romero will rebound, the Jays will now spend the winter imagining whether J.A. Happ can be the No. 5 starter in a rotation that on paper looks like one of the best in the American League. Behind that rotation appears to be a well-stocked bullpen. There is still youth at catcher, third base and in the outfield and viable prospects in the system, which hasn't been gutted but has lost noteworthy depth. If Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek fight their way back from major surgeries, there is still youth in the pitching corps.
So if you're Anthopoulos, and if you're Rogers Communications, of course you make this deal. Fans with a lot of other MLB teams will be asking today why their GM didn't feast on the cost-cutting Marlins in the same way.
For Toronto, its a welcome change, a different feel after what feels like years and years of slow building with youth by the Jays, Raptors and Leafs, years and years of watching teams in other cities pull off these kind of game-changing swaps.
Real possibility is better than wild dreams, and the Jays are clearly now a team of real possibility.
Just be smart and don't imagine that it didn't come at a cost, that all the Jays acquired will be gold and nothing they sent to Florida will ever matter.
At this point, Jays fans should content themselves with the notion that if both teams win in this deal, it will have been a very good deal for Toronto.