Monday, December 17, 2012

Going All-In with R.A. Dickey

By
Courtesy of 1045 The Team
It seems like there are three stages of emotions to the R.A. Dickey trade for Blue Jays fans: denial, bargaining and acceptance. While many have already fast-forwarded straight to acceptance (AKA the "Flags Fly Forever" stage), there are some such as myself who are still middling in the bargaining stage.

At first, I was adamantly dismissing any R.A. Dickey rumours simply because I wasn't a big fan of what the Blue Jays would have to give up to get him. Sure, the Blue Jays would be receiving a Cy Young winner in return, but they’d only be getting him for one year of control.

When the package was rumoured to involve Anthony Gose and J.P. Arencibia, it stung a little. Then when it evolved to include Travis d'Arnaud, that upped the ante. Then when it escalated to include Noah Syndergaard, that's when things really started to get crazy.

Although we're still waiting on the official word on which players are involved in this trade, if it does in fact include Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, that's a very tough pill to swallow. Any time you lose not just two of your top prospects, but your two best prospects, that is a huge gamble to make.

It's all part of a very big gamble by Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays.

I think the main reason why I'm opposed to this trade is because the AA regime has trained me to value prospects and years of control. And this R.A. Dickey deal is the anti-Anthopoulos trade; a trade that signals now is the time to win is now, rather than building for the future.

We’ve been building up the value of Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud these past three years, only to completely shift gears and then suddenly go for it. That's what I'm having difficulty wrapping my head around right now.

When Alex Anthopoulos took over as General Manager in 2009, there was a complete culture shift with the Toronto Blue Jays. The emphasis was suddenly shifted to building up the minor league system and laying the groundwork for a solid big league roster.

So you can understand why there is some resistance from a cross-section of the Blue Jays fan base. A fan base that has become accustomed to the Blue Jays hoarding prospects and draft picks. We're not accustomed to the Blue Jays making a big move like this. Suddenly, two massive franchise-changing trades are about to go down in the span of just two months.

The funny thing is there wasn’t really all that much resistance from the Blue Jays fanbase regarding the blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins. Sure, they were giving up pieces for the future, but ultimately the talent coming back from the Marlins vastly improved the big league roster right away.

I suppose the ultimate question is this; does the addition of R.A. Dickey and the subtraction of d’Arnaud and Syndergaard make this team better right now? If the answer is yes, then I guess this deal needs to be done.

If the Blue Jays want to win and not just contend, there’s no sense in doing this three-quarters of the way. If Alex Anthopoulos has the blessing from the man upstairs, then he may as well go balls-out in the effort to get the Blue Jays back to the World Series.

Prospects may never live up to their billing, but flags do in fact fly forever.

This situation really does harken back to the David Cone/Jeff Kent trade of 1993. At the time, most people don’t really bat an eye that the Blue Jays traded away Jeff Kent (a future Hall of Famer) for two months of David Cone. That’s because ultimately it lead to the Blue Jays winning a World Series.

On the same token, in 1993 the Blue Jays traded away another of their best prospects in Steve Karsay for Rickey Henderson. Karsay didn't live up to his billing and became a journeyman starter, but Henderson helped push the Blue Jays over the top in 1993.

The Blue Jays are in a very similar situation here; Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard could very well be important pieces moving forward, but what R.A. Dickey brings to this team immediately improves an already very strong starting rotation.

I mean, if the Blue Jays nearly went all-in to overhaul the team with the blockbuster trade in November, they may as well throw that final chip into the pot with this trade and hope for the best. They're going all-in ... aces up. 

3 comments:

  1. Think about it this way though, Ian...

    It took AA a little over two years to develop a top farm system. He loaded it with talent and prospects from college and HS, and overseas, including the Latin market. In two years.

    Now the ML Club is set. The rotation is loaded. The lineup (aside from a 2B and the corpse of Adam Lind), is solid.

    So what next? AA is a genius. I remember reading somewhere that he changed the priority in the last year for his scouting department from the minors, to the major league rosters.

    A simple shift back to the amateur scene solves the problem, and AA rebuilds the farm. Of course, with the new CBA it won't be as easy, but it isn't impossible. Its been done once before.

    Besides, I like Jimenez, and Sanchez, and Osuna... and dont forget about Cardona. The Jays will be fine. He will just shift back to scouting kids and reload the prospect pool while the big league club wins ballgames. It will force other GMs to try and play catch up at the MLB level, and all the while he will be focusing on the next crop of baby jays.

    AA knows what he's doing. Have faith my friend.



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    Replies
    1. Shawn, this might be a topic for an entirely separate post, but my conspiracy theory (if you can even call it that) is perhaps this was the plan all along - to build up the farm system to be one of the best in the Majors, and then sell high on the top prospects and parlay them into top Major League players.

      Like I said, it's just getting over that mental roadblock of trading prospects, because this regime has engrained the importance of prospects, draft picks and the minor leagues into our minds. It's now flipping the switch and making a complete 180 that some like myself are having trouble with. But that being said, it's the best move to win now ... no doubt.

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  2. Hyping up the value of prospects is a common tactics GM uses frequently. Teams that win WS almost never have the best farm system in the game as either 1. all the legit prospects are traded for major league help or 2. they r already playing for the big league team.

    By the end of the 2013 season the Jays may yet have another Lansing big 3 as the likes of Norris, Smoral etc will start to make their way to A ball. In the previous 2 draft, AA has drafted the best high school prep arms that other teams have stayed away from. Those guys will probably become trade baits yet again for another push for a WS in TO

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