Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Year Later: Are the Blue Jays Better or Worse Without Alex Rios?


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Every day, I'm reminded of what happened this very day just one year ago as an Alex Rios figurine and Alex Rios bobblehead sit prominently on my desk.

In fact as I type this blog post, they're both staring at me right now. Since I can't seem to ever get away from Alex Rios, I constantly wonder if the Blue Jays did the right thing to let him go.

If we're going just on statistics alone, Alex Rios is having a fine year as the Chicago White Sox centre fielder. With 17 home runs, and a batting average at .296 and a WAR of 2.9, Rios has settled very nicely in the south side of Chicago.

While it was great to have his $61.65 million dollar contract come off the books for the Blue Jays, I'm torn as to whether the Blue Jays are better or worse off one year later without Alex Rios.

The Jays gained some short-term financial flexibility by having the White Sox take on Rios' contract, but if the trade was financially driven in the first place, what was the point if the Blue Jays didn't spend that money in the off-season?

Even worse, the only thing the Blue Jays received in return for Alex Rios was that financial flexibility. They sold low on one of their most promising players, and at the time the Jays didn't really receive true value for Alex Rios.

Looking back, in my mind trading Alex Rios to the White Sox seemed like a Hail Mary move for J.P. Ricciardi. It reeked of a last ditch effort to save his job after the two of the biggest faces of the franchise in Rios and Wells were having horrible seasons.

Ricciardi did employ some cost-cutting measures to save the Blue Jays front office a whack of money by letting go of Alex Rios, but at what cost? For that reason, I think it was maybe a little early for the Blue Jays to pull the rip cord on Alex Rios.

One can't say for sure if he would've had the same year in Toronto as he is in Chicago, but if he were still in a Blue Jays uniform I can't imagine Alex Rios would've been much worse in 2010 than he was in 2009. Vernon Wells has bounced back from his awful 2009, and I truly believe Alex Rios would have done the same.

As talented as Alex Rios was (and still is), no player is ever irreplaceable. Almost as if right fielders are manufactured on an assembly line, there will always be another one to fill the hole. It may not be as flashy as the previous model, but eventually it will take the former's place and pretty soon folks will forget the original version even existed.

For me though, that day has not arrived yet. The Alex Rios wounds are still a little fresh, but give me another year and I'll probably have a brand new mancrush in right field.

7 comments:

  1. Bautista is at 2.6 WAR right now. If Rios is still here, I don't think Bautista gets the kind of playing time that he's gotten. I don't think Rios would have been as good without the kick in the ass either, so I think the Jays are ahead. Will they still be ahead next year or the year after that? Hard to say, but I remember how frustrating he could be. If he worked to match his talent, he'd be a perennial all star. I don't think that's ever going to happen though. And how long until he slides back?

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  2. To put things in perspective, here's the Outfield transactions the Jays have made since Rios was given to the White Sox

    08/18/09 Toronto Blue Jays recalled Travis Snider from Las Vegas 51s.
    12/04/09 Texas Rangers claim 2B Joe Inglett off waivers from Toronto Blue Jays.
    12/13/09 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent CF Joey Gathright.
    12/22/09 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent LF Chris Lubanski.
    01/07/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent RF Jorge Padilla.
    01/19/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent LF Jeremy Reed.
    03/08/10 CF Moises Sierra assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    03/11/10 OF Eric Thames assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    03/15/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent LF Chris Aguila.
    03/18/10 OF Darin Mastroianni assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    03/24/10 OF Kenneth Wilson assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    03/27/10 OF Welinton Ramirez assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    03/28/10 Toronto Blue Jays released CF Joey Gathright.
    04/05/10 OF Jeremy Reed assigned to Las Vegas 51s from Toronto Blue Jays.
    OF Chris Aguila assigned to Las Vegas 51s from Toronto Blue Jays.
    OF Jorge Padilla assigned to Las Vegas 51s from Toronto Blue Jays.
    04/12/10 OF Jeremy Reed assigned to Toronto Blue Jays.
    Toronto Blue Jays called up Jeremy Reed from Las Vegas 51s.
    04/15/10 San Francisco Giants traded LF Fred Lewis to Toronto Blue Jays.
    04/16/10 Toronto Blue Jays optioned Jeremy Reed to Las Vegas 51s.
    05/17/10 Toronto Blue Jays placed LF Travis Snider on the 15-Day disabled list retroactive to May 15, 2010. Sprained right wrist.
    05/19/10 Toronto Blue Jays recalled LF Jeremy Reed from Las Vegas 51s.
    06/17/10 Toronto Blue Jays optioned Jeremy Reed to Las Vegas 51s.
    Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent OF Dewayne Wise.
    06/20/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed OF Jonathan Jones.
    06/30/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed OF Melvin Garcia.
    07/17/10 Toronto Blue Jays optioned Travis Snider to New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
    LF Jeremy Reed filed for free agency.
    07/23/10 Jason Lane assigned to Las Vegas 51s from Toronto Blue Jays.
    Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent OF Jason Lane.
    07/29/10 Toronto Blue Jays signed free agent OF Concepcion Rodriguez.
    07/30/10 OF Concepcion Rodriguez assigned to New Hampshire Fisher Cats from Toronto Blue Jays.
    Toronto Blue Jays recalled Travis Snider from New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

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  3. I don't have any numbers or stats to back up my opinion, but I have been a Jays fans for years, and watched pretty much every game that Rios played. It was obvious that he has/had boat loads of potential, and he came very close to showing that a few times in Toronto. But I couldn't help but think that he was just lazy. He made some seriously boneheaded plays in right, and always seemed more concerned with his looks, and the fact that he was a famous athlete now. All of the specials on TV were about how everyone called him the "Puerto Rican Prince", and he was always showing off his new sunglasses or clothes.
    I was upset to see him go for nothing, but it did two things in my opinion.
    1. It was a wake up call for the rest of the team that nobody was safe, so don't get to comfortable.
    2. It kicked Rios' ass into gear. I don't believe that he would have had the same year here in Toronto that he is having in Chicago under Ozzie...who, from as far as I can tell, doesn't take shit from anyone, and won't put up with Rios' possible lazyness.

    Was it a panic move by JP...yes. Will it work out for the Jays in the long run....to be seen.
    All and all, I don't miss him, and I think that money will be spent in the next few years on a better piece for our team.

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  4. If you believe the rumours, JP wanted to work out a trade with the White Sox for Rios and some salary relief but Beeston called rank on him and forced the White Sox to take on the contract.

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  5. He wasn't at all good for clubhouse chemistry. Players would compain about him sleeping before games. That's not something this young core needs around.

    I'll say this too and await the heaps of scorn thrown at me: the pitching staff is also better without Halladay. It's easy to add Halladays numbers to the current rotation and say see, they'd have X more wins but unfortunately that's not how it works. When a player leaves, it factors into the performances of those around them. In this case, everyone on the Jays staff has tried to fill his shoes and cumulatively they have done so and then some.

    Cue the insults...

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  6. Anon, given the departure of Rios has allowed for Bautista to enjoy some playing time in right field - but that was also because EE started the year on the DL. In my opinion, I think Rios will be an All-Star again at some point, but the Jays obviously didn't want to risk it.

    Iain, you reiterate my point about the revolving door in the outfield since Rios left. Who would've guessed that position would be so difficult to fill?

    DJaysM, there's no doubt Rios was a character, but I'm willing to overlook all of that so long as he put up decent numbers and wasn't too big of a shit disturber in the clubhouse. Maybe Cito wasn't the right manager for Rios, as his laid back attitude wouldn't serve well for someone like Lexi.

    Noisyflowers, I've never heard that rumour but it most certainly could've happened. Makes sense that Beeston would go over J.P.'s head just so they could get the thing done and over with.

    Mattt, you know what - that's not as crazy as it sounds. If Halladay's still in Toronto this year, he's taking up a spot in the rotation that would currently be occupied by say Cecil or Mills/R-Zep. In my mind, if they didn't trade Doc at the Winter Meetings he walks at the end of this year anyway.

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  7. Probably have a new RF man crush?

    Hahaha

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