Hot off the presses today (well, yesterday by the time I get this posted) comes a story by John Tomase of the Boston Herald about Alex Anthopoulos and his philosophy of team building with some remarkable quotes from AA which are sure to spark a lot of discussion among rosterbating fans pining away to see Rogers' cash dispersed liberally on the Free Agent market.
It was only a few days before when local writer Jeff Blair kindle the fire when he stated (without a supporting quote) that Paul Beeston would not sign off on a contract longer than five years, now AA seems to add more fuel to the flame with comments which can't be music to the ears of those penciling Fielder or Pujols (and every once in a while both!) into the Blue Jays 2012 lineup.
Here's the direct quote:
“I think we’ve had a lot of really good players here,” Anthopoulos said. “Obviously it’s hard to get the great ones, especially in free agency. One, they don’t get to free agency. Two, you normally pay them more years and more dollars than you have to. And three, you’re getting them — not at the end of their careers — but a little bit older. It’s what we need to do with the division we’re in and the parameters we have to work with.
“If I was the GM of some other team in some other division, everything would be different. Everything we do is tailored to the parameters of Toronto, Rogers (Centre), Canada, AL East, Boston, New York, Tampa, Baltimore. Put it all in a pot and say, ‘OK, what’s the best game plan?’ ”
“The trade route where we are right now is important for us,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing and it is. Free agency is the last route we want to go. At some point we’ll have to start delving into it a little more, but I still want to try to avoid it at all costs. If we try to do this through the draft, it’s going to be a while. And it’s not going to work and we’re not going to get it to time properly.”How much clearer does he need to make it? Don't get me wrong, would I love to see Pujols play out a Hall-of-Fame career in a Jays uniform? Heck yes. And I'm not worried about the price. But given these comments, it's hard to see AA getting in on any premium FA with the possible exception of Darvish who's obviously not your conventional situation. And even that is possibly a long shot.
So I, for one, am going to quit entertaining that kind of speculation. If he wants to surprise me I'll enjoy it but until then, I'm going with the assumption that any FA signing would be something similar to the signings of Rauch and Dotel last winter and any premium acquisition will come, as he indicates, via trade. And I'm ok with that. I admit it's kind of irrational, but I really had rather slay the dragons with guys who feel like “real” Blue Jays – the ones who we're acquired with genius, and not just cash – than to have to concede a big portion of the credit to some FA import.
So, in solidarity with his comment, let me suggest who thoughts regarding potential deals which are in the forefront of my off-season daydreams:
- Joey Votto/Yonder Alonso – Votto is THE answer, trade wise,
to the Pujols/Fielder meme. He's also not necessarily available and
will be very expensive if he can be had. Still, with the Reds
sitting on a premium 1B prospect, looking at the potential that
Votto would leave via FA in two years (or require a mega-deal) and
calculating that there's much more value in dealing him with two
years of control rather than one, I certainly think it's possible.
And one doesn't need to go even that deep in calculating why the
Blue Jays would covet a premium talent who's a native of the area.
On the other hand, if the Reds insist on trying to keep Votto for
years to come, then it's time they faced the reality that Alonso is
no outfielder (let alone a 3B). The jays would certainly have to be
interested in a premium prospect who fell more in the age range of
the other young core players they have assembled. He'd also come
- Gordon Beckham - This one falls much more in the area of
reclamation projects, and only really makes sense if the ChiSox are
at the end of their patience with the young 2B. It would be a
gamble, for sure, but AA is known to like the guy a lot and I'm kind
of the opinion that it's better ultimately to try to get him back on
an upward path than to hope and pray Johnson or Hill can put
together a good year.
I'm sure I could scrounge up some other intriguing possibilities – the biggest argument against these two is they make so much sense that AA will probably be doing something else entirely – but as much as I'm sure at some point we'll have to give up a prospect I really love, I still like the trade plan myself, much more so that the idea of throwing big cash at free agents. Over the entire history of the Jays, the number of premium free agent signings I have swooned over has been very very small. I haven't found a reason to change that preference.