Alright. 2017. Let’s fix the damned Blue Jays already. Shit, over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron already has written a plan to salvage the Jays’ offseason and it’s… the obvious one: signing Jose Bautista. And, indeed, getting Bautista on a bargain basement deal would look like a coup at this point, and make even missing on Edwin seem not quite so bad, seeing as they were never likely to end up bringing back both. Nobody else is stepping up to sign him, clearly, so it’s easy to understand why they’d play hardball here — especially with Dave talking (still!) about a one-year deal in the $20 to $25 million range — but… well… if only we could think of a recent example where playing hardball worked out shittily for them.
Speaking things going shittily, the great Jonah Keri takes us through how the Jays have ended up where they are, starting with Mark Shapiro’s arrival last year, in a piece for CBS Sports (which features a very kind shout out of yours truly). “A fetish for future assets, the pressure of fan expectations, the challenges of keeping money flowing and a lot of poor planning adds up to a likely season in limbo,” he writes. It’s not exactly uplifting stuff — and it’s hopefully a narrative that can be undone by a couple shrewd January moves we all still hope to fuck are coming — but ain’t none of it wrong. And the most damning thing, I think, is that in assessing what has gone on so far this winter, Jonah blames “a rigid thought process” that prohibited the front office from “trusting that they could find a viable market alternative, in a market flush with them.” Could anything be farther from the way this front office has been selling their internal dynamic than “a rigid thought process”?
Over at FanRag, the always excellent Jonathan Bernhardt also looks big picture at the Jays, and comes out with a rosier picture — though one where Mark Shapiro is cast as much more rigidly future-focused than I believe (or, at least, want to believe), based on his time working with far fewer resources than he will have in Toronto, as the GM and president in Cleveland. That is, if you think it’s rosier to say that the problem with the long game is “you’re getting outclassed in the short term, and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever make it to the place where your preparations actually matter. As it is, the Jays have avoided bad contracts and onerous arrangements, while making smart acquisitions to address holes in their roster. They’re also now maybe the fifth best team in the American League on paper going into 2017, as the Red Sox, [Cleveland], Rangers, and Astros have all stepped up.”
MLB Network Radio tweets that Steve Phillips was on there saying that “there’s a good chance Jose Bautista doesn’t sign until after the June draft. I don’t see anyone giving up a 1st round pick.” I don’t think anybody should be thinking about this just yet, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility either. And, oh man, what a delicious “fuck you” to the Jays that would be for him. Tempting maybe? Not as tempting as just getting paid and having a damn proper spring training, I’m sure. And I’d wager he’d do better taking a pillow contract anyway, even at a real small number (which might be necessary given the value of that draft pick, and maybe at this point is exactly the hold up). If that’s a bet on himself that he’s not willing to make, what does that say to teams he’s trying to get to pay him longer term?
Jon Morosi says that Brett Gardner is not as good a fit for the Jays as Jose Bautista. That’s possibly correct, and I wouldn’t make anything of him saying it, save for two things: one, Sportsnet is rushing to pose it as news, and to give a nice little publicity shot to their regrettable Fan 590 morning show, and two, here’s Morosi again sounding a bit too much like a mouthpiece for Jay Alou and Bautista’s camp for my taste. Maybe it’s innocuous and I’m being a jerk here, but it’s at least worth considering.
The reason Morosi was speaking of Gardner? Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star mentioned the Yankees outfielder as a trade candidate in a piece back on Saturday — a piece, it should be noted, that rubbished Morosi’s suggestion that the two sides were engaged in “active trade talks.” Hmmm.
Missed this in November, but ZiPS @FanGraphs really likes Aaron Sanchez in 2017. Projects 3.35 ERA, 196 IP, 4.6 WAR. Top comp: Dave Stieb
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 3, 2017
Lastly, Jays prospect Anthony Alford’s family home in Columbia, Mississippi, burned down on December 28th. Truly shitty stuff, which Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun does a great job of reporting on the situation and on Alford’s year in the Jays’ system. He also links to the GoFundMe page setup for the family, who basically lost everything in the blaze.