Wednesday, August 21, 2013
An Open Letter to Alex Anthopoulos
By Ian Hunter
How's your summer been? Mine's been alright ... a little disappointing, as I'm sure you can understand. That's not entirely your fault, though.
Anyway, the reason I'm writing today is because I'm a little concerned.
There's no question things were a mess after the debacle that was last year; the onslaught of injuries, the Escobar eyeblack scandal, and of course the John Farrell situation. Things were not good, but you quickly remedied the situation.
At the onset of the season this scenario seemed unfathomable, but 2013 is shaping up to be even worse than 2012 was.
If you match them up side by side, both seasons are actually pretty similar in both results and even the overall tone, but with one discernible difference; the Blue Jays were supposed to be contenders this year, and clearly they're not.
Luckily after that trade with the Marlins, most people forgot all about that season from hell. But unfortunately, it was only about 3-4 weeks into the 2013 season when doubt about the Blue Jays crept up once again.
Sure, the team managed to turn things around there in mid-June, but since then it's like the team has fallen off the cliff. Just like last year, injuries piled up, the starting pitching has been subpar, and the defense hasn't been the greatest, either.
Again, I'm not saying this is all your fault. But as the General Manager of this team, it's your job to fix this mess.
You assembled a pretty impressive roster on paper this offseason. Sometimes I still can't believe my eyes that Jose Reyes is in a Blue Jays uniform, so kudos on that one. But most of the other moves haven't really panned out so well.
The roster doesn't need to be completely overhauled, but things need to change. Mostly, the starting rotation. Dickey and Buehrle are essentially the only two who can be penciled into the rotation right now. Needless to say, there's a lot of work to be done in the pitching department.
I don't know what you should do about the Josh Johnson thing. You seem to really like the guy, but maybe it's okay to let him walk at the end of the year.
I guess you have to weigh the options; would you rather have people bellyache over paying Johnson $14.5 million next year, or let him go and watch Josh have a career year with the Yankees?
As we learned the past few years, there is no such thing as having too much starting pitching. But at the same time, don't just assume Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond or even Brandon Morrow will be enough to carry the rest of the starting rotation.
The offense needs to be upgraded as well; namely at second base and catcher. You've got to make a decision on what to do with J.P. Arencibia. He may be good with the media (or at least he was), but his primary focus should be on his athletic ability, and not his on-camera charisma.
Arencibia could probably make a strong case in arbitration with all those home runs under his belt, so if you're going to stick with him, be prepared to shell out a lot of money for his services over the coming years. And also be prepared to deal with the backlash if J.P. continues on this path.
I feel like this offseason is a time where you really need to draw a line in the sand on where you stand with J.P. Arencibia. Either you're going to unequivocally stand by this guy no matter what and lock him up to a contract, or you need to ship him off this winter. Please end the drama once and for all.
Second base is going to be a bit trickier; you were probably pretty happy to get Maicer Izturis to that team-friendly contract, but he simply is not going to cut it, either. At the very least, if you can't find an offensive-minded second baseman, please find an elite fielding defender.
I know you have a propensity to go with trades to get said upgrades, but frankly I think the minor league system is a little depleted at this point. If you are going to go the trade route, it's probably better to trade high-upside players on the big league roster (sorry, Colby) rather than deal away prospects.
Don't be afraid to go back to the bigwigs upstairs and ask for more cash to sign some free agents. Heck, it worked for the Red Sox; they opened up the pocketbooks the offseason following their own disastrous season, and look where they are now.
No, it's not really the "Blue Jay Way" and that will likely mean overpaying any prospective free agents, but such is the cost of doing business in the landscape of the American League East today.
Another thing I fear is that Toronto is going to fall back into a less desirable free agent destination once again. Unless you're planning on throwing a boatload of cash at somebody like Robinson Cano, I don't think he's ever coming to Toronto.
So here we are; another year, another unsuccessful season. Make that 20 years since the Blue Jays have tasted the postseason. There were sometimes when it hasn't felt like it's been that long, but this year it's been painfully obvious this team fell well below expectations.
This offseason, more than ever, it's crucial that things are done right. Sure, building a winner takes time, but people's patience is growing thin. It should be made very clear at January's State of the Franchise meeting where this team is headed in the near future.
Please, remedy the situation. Because the best way to help people forget the last two years (and even the last 20) is to make the Toronto Blue Jays a winning team again.