The dice are rolling across the table, and we’re hoping they don’t come up snakeeyes. Not only for us, or the Blue Jays, but for Alex Anthopolous. Because, gosh darn it, when you see Alex interviewed on TV as he is quite willing to be, he seems like an enthusiastic, bright young guy who’s trying. Like a nice guy, actually. Let’s hope the old saying about where nice guys finish doesn’t hold for Anthopolous- and his Jays. And make no mistake, more and more, this Toronto Blue Jays crew is becoming his team, branded with a big “AA” like a cow in a Texas pasture.
And to give him credit, it’s becoming more and more clear that he has a vision for the team which he’s willing to steer towards, critics be damned. It’s not that his predecessor, JP Ricciardi, didn’t have a vision, it’s just that his was changing as readily as a Doobie Brothers lineup. One year it was all about pitching, the next year it was pitching was irrelevant if you had bashers who were sure to hit half a dozen home runs a year, six months after that the master plan might be to corner the market on American-born corner fielders with red hair and goatees like Microsoft has cornered the word processing market. Anthopolous seems clearer and more consistent- he wants a team of unknown, young talented players commanding small salaries and growing up together. He empthasizes scouting and values youth over experience. He’ll take a Kyle Drabek over a Roy Halladay any day. He’ll trade away upto 8 players to get a kid with a reputation for being an uncoachable jackass if the scouts say the kid has power and speed.
To whit, his pulling the chain and surprising the sporting world by being the first GM to pull off a major trade as the trade deadline nears. Not the Yankees, not the Giants (though they predictably soon followed by acquiring Carlos Beltran as everyone knew they would), nor the Bosox. The Jays. So, welcome Colby Rasmus. Bye bye and best wishes to the team’s alltime games pitched (and most reliable reliever this year) leader, Jason Frasor. And to it’s most promising lefty bullpen arm. And on and on and on. All for a reportedly spoiled 24 year old outfielder who’s made Anthopolous salivate ever since they both broke into the bigs around the same time. Colby rasmus, formerly of the St Louis Cards.
I’m not sold on this sell-off. Frasor was a real team player , and as I just said, the most reliable of a questionable bullpen this season. “Zep” had the hardest to spell name on the staff but also the best chance of getting a few lefties out late in the game. Corey Patterson had… well, OK, if you’ve read my blog, you know my opinion on him and his lack of baseball “smarts.” No loss there. Edwin Jackson, who was a Jay in name if not hat, for about two hours, is an OK starter who’d be an upgrade over anyone in the #5 slot for Toronto this year. And, Zach Stewart was by far the most talented young starter in the minors for T.O. YES, the most talented, former Cy Young’s winners’ kids notwithstanding. A hell of a price to pay to get a .240 hitting, 11 home run outfielder … especially when Jose Bautista is destined to be back where he belongs in RF, and Travis snider is playing well again after callup and change to hitting stance, Eric thames is a rookie phenom, Rajai Davis is the best base stealer for the team since the 80s and there’s Canadian Adam Loewen clicking along at a .300 pace for Las Vegas waiting for a call from a 416 number. It isn’t clear to me why Alex thought we were desperately short on outfield talent.
But Rasmus was a number one draft pick. Much like Miguel Negron (of 1000 minor league game fame) and Russ Adams (who was tailor made for sleepy boxscore keepers looking to jot down an 0 for 4 before the game began and then snooze) were for the jays. Alex assures us Colby is different. Tony La Russa, whos publically butted heads with both Colby and his dad, Tony, is wrong. Tony has been accused of interfering with Cardinals matters and contradicting their coaches, thereby limiting the effectiveness of his son. Memories of Bonnie Lindros (the bossy, over-seeing, over-domineering mother of hockey near-great Eric Lindros) come to mind and were pointedly repeated by a St Louis newspaper man who wrote in the Post-Dispatch “if hockey fans in Canada thought Eric Lindros had a meddling parent in Bonnie Lindros, wait until tony Rasmus crosses the border and enters the Rogers Centre in an attempt to take over as the Blue Jays batting coach.”
Rasmus, for what it’s worth, made a few decent plays in the outfield in his Jays debut but went a dismal 0 for 5, and when interviewed seemed curiously unhappy for a kid who’d been chomping at the bit to be traded for the past two years.
Other players have come here and changed their fates. Jose Bautista was a mediocre utility player until getting a chance to play every day in Toronto. His buddy Yunel Escobar was disliked and considered lazy in Atlanta – this I know from the time I spent living there– but has become a hard-working, .300 hitting , defensive standout here. It might happen with Rasmus.
Anthopolous better hope so. Because the day he pulled the trade, both the Toronto Star and Sun had lengthy articles urging him to pull off a killer trade- the Star specifically recommended Heath bell to improve the lacklustre bullpen. The public’s patience with “wait til next year “ is growing desperately thin, Roberto Alomar thowback nights and bobbleheads notwithstanding. The time for a winner is now, Alex. Let’s hope you’re right in assessing Colby Rasmus as a winner. Because you’ve put all your chips up there on the table.