OK… this is an inconvenience I like! I found myself having to edit this post a bit mid-way through writing when I glanced at the MLB site and found Toronto just traded for Brad Hand. Nice!
The bullpen, as I’ve mentioned here of late, has been disasterously unreliable since May and although Jordan Romano (who’s hitting 100 on the radar fairly often now, for what it’s worth) has been alright as the stand-in closer, and newcomers Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards likewise have been perfectly adequate, far too many close games have continued to go out the window in the 7th and 8th inning for a team hoping to make a serious playoff run. Which Toronto should be this year. A veteran, reliable, southpaw closer will greatly enhance the chances. Best off, the Jays only gave up Riley Adams to get him. Dealing from a position of strength – catching. Adams played a game or two earlier this season and was ranked as the team’s 17th top prospect, potentially a half-decent major league catcher down the road. But in Toronto, he was only fifth in line behind current regular (when healthy) Danny Jansen, Reese Mcguire, roly-poly Alejandro Kirk and minor league sensation Gabriel Moreno. Even if Adams is Washington’s everyday catcher in 2023, this will be a trade that made sense.
It’s encouraging because it shows the Jays are going to make an effort, not throw in the towel. Some have suggested the other direction would be wise, not remembering 2015 apparently when a team only a game over the .500 mark in late-July made it to the ALCS after trading for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, plus a few other minor actors. True, Toronto is in fourth right now, and haven’t been able to gain momentum in terms of long winning streaks. But…
the tide could turn. Tomorrow the team will return to Toronto for the first time in nearly two years. No offense to Buffalo, a good backup plan and fine hosts, but Sahlen Field and Erie County isn’t quite the same as Rogers’ Centre and a rollicking hometown crowd. They kick off an 11-game homestand at home , which could be the sparkplug the team’s been needing. And the schedule begins to look brighter too. Only five games remain against the division leading Red Sox, four of them in Toronto. They get to play the lacklustre Orioles ten times still, by comparison. In fact, of the remaining 64 games, 28 are against team’s with losing records right now, 36 against opponents with worse records than the Jays. More telling, Of all the games left to play, only the ones against the White Sox (four) and Rays (six) are against teams with better run differentials than Toronto. The Blue Jays could potentially really make hay in August and September, and will have a lineup bolstered by a decent left-handed bat, the versatile Corey Dickerson who’s about to start a minor league rehab after injuring his leg. He should be joining the big league Jays in about a week… which also gives them the flexibility to consider trading either Randal Grichuk or Lourdes Gurriel if need be.
The obvious areas of need is starting pitching now that Hand’s in to lend a “hand” to the late-innings out of the bullpen. I wouldn’t be selling the farm to rent Max Scherzer, (doubtful he’d re-sign in Toronto, and even if he would, would he be worth the $200M, five or six year type deal he’s bound to be getting elsewhere?) but would love to see them score either a cheap “rental” or two like Jon Gray, or better yet, dig a little deeper and bring in a plus starter under control for 2022 or beyond. German Marquez in Colorado is an obvious suggestion, so too Kenta Maeda of the Twins. Merrill Kelly‘s name has been mentioned, and he seems like a pitcher with a lot of promise in Arizona. There might be even better names not on the public’s radar that could be obtained. The Jays do have some coveted nuggets to offer to rebuilding teams, including the aforementioned outfielders, a quartet of high-prospect infielders on the left field side (Groshans, Martinez, Martin and Smith) plus some middle-of-the-road minor league pitchers that always are popular in trades.
Time for some creativity Mr. Atkins, and give the Ontario fans something to really cheer for tomorrow .