Damn this team will drive you insane, right? Write up an extensive review of the pitching in which you conclude they are better than advertised, but have an insane propensity to "choke" in 1-run situations (as they did a couple of times since I wrote that) and on the most exciting day of the year they go out and watch their bullpen throw 5 innings of no-hit ball in a 1 run situation and....still lose.
Okay, anyway, about that excitement, eh? No need for me to tell you what happened, or who was involved so let me just rattle off some random items that together make up my reaction:
Devon Travis - as I tweeted last night, Travis single-handedly made it easy for the team to trade their lead-off hitter. So good has Travis been that if you gave him the same number of PA as Jason Kipnis he'd pro-rate to 4.3 WAR...and now he's hurt again. He left tonight's game with pain in the same area of his shoulder as the previous injury that sidelined him for 5 weeks. He first said he intended to play through it but we saw how that went last time and the team might not let him do that. If he hits the DL that presents an interesting problem for the line-up. Either Gibby carries on with the same logic that he applied to Donaldson, he might be bold enough to try Tulo in the first spot and tell him to ignore the "table setter" business and play his regular game. The other alternative is to find someone who can do it which brings me to...
Dalton Pompey - Hasn't gone hitless in three weeks; I've been convinced for a week or so now that if they don't trade him, he'll be recalled no later than August 1. But the option is there to go ahead and bring him back right away and plug him into left and lead-off and count on him to keep a level head this time. He definitely has the talent.
LaTroy Hawkins - I was probably the least enthusiastic among the positive thinkers about adding a 42 year old as a key component of our bullpen but I read a point this morning that brought be around a bit. The one thing this bullpen doesn't have that has been a fixture in the past is a "wise old man" veteran. Think Darren Oliver. In a bullpen with so many puzzling outcomes, possibly that's exactly what this crew needs. Anthopoloulos bragged on his reputation as a clubhouse guy (something that's also widely said about Tulo) and it seems likely that his contribution outside the lines was part of why Alex wanted him.
Troy Tulowitzki - There's been several references out there today to Denver Post articles which provide reason for hop on the injury front, but that is clearly the major - really the only - red flag in the deal. I'll add my voice to the choir singing his praises as the best shortstop in the game, when he's playing. In the short term that's still in our favor because for this year and the next two, we'd have the same problem with Reyes who's a lesser player on both sides of the ball when both are healthy. The risk, of course comes after 2017. Still, he's two years younger than Reyes so you didn't take on a deal that runs into his late 30's. I think he makes the team better, potentially much better. I wonder if Gibby will hit him between Edwin and Jose?
As for the contract, Evan Ross and Blue Jays Plus did a nice job of shooting down the "bad contract" meme here, and he nailed it. Also, due to the salary inflation in baseball, $20 million in 2019 isn't the same as $20 million now. Even better, it's not even that bad through the life of the contract. The Jays actually save $2 million each of the next two years, then they pay out a net $16 mil in 2018 (because Reyes had a 4 million buyout) and the only time they take on the full $20 mil in in 2019. Tulo's contract calls for only $14 mil in 2020 and $15 mil on his 2021 option year (which, if he's any good at all you probably pick up since it has a $4 mil buyout and you probably won't be able to buy much of a veteran SS for a net $11 mil in 2021. That's not bad at all.
It's also not a contract that hamstrings the Jays payroll, as they only have $59 million committed (to four players) in 2016, and arbitration salaries that should run (based in the current roster, 7 players) around $21 million. There's a lot of good young pre-arb talent to fill out the team, but it will need a front of the rotation guy with some experience, a closer and a reserve catcher - and have as much as $40 million to work with without assuming a noticeable payroll bump.
Jeff Hoffman - I loved dreaming on the guy, and I'll be worried that he might turn into peak-Verlander at some point but, it's a tribute to how much emotion we invest n our prospects that it's even a question to be asked whether you trade one of your top three prospects for five years of the best player at a crucial position. That's why we have Tulo instead of Cueto, by the way - the Royals paid out for two months of a very good starter, while the Jays paid out for over FIVE YEARS (plus an affordable option!) of the guy who's currently the best in the world at what he does. We bought the same amount of control we gave up. It does put some pressure on the Jays to increase rotation depth for 2016 which points right back to AA shopping for pitchers like Tyson Ross or Andrew Casner who have some control left, but that's a swap you make ever day and then sort of the consequential implications later.
Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco - I had, on my totally unauthoritative mid-season list, Hoffman at #1, Castro at #6 and Tinoco at #21 (with a bullet). Castro is exciting but very raw, actual talent evaluators on-line can give you details but he's not a guy you're going to be outraged over dealing. Tinoco is intriguing but he's not going to make a significant impact before the end of the decade. Can't lose sleep over that, particularly when you're dealing from a position of tremendous depth.
The Unknown Starter - The team still has solid assets to add another pitcher. AA has said, wisely, that he doesn't expect to deal from the 25 man roster, and as I've said, Norris, Alford and Pompey would be very tough to move (I actually had bad dreams last night about waking up to find Alford was the third prospect to the Rockies) but even if you take them off the table for the sake of discussion there's Matt Boyd, Sean Reid-Foley, Richard Urena (now blocked) Max Pentecost (value diminished by injury), Matt Smoral (ditto), Jario Labourt (profile raised by Future's Game selection), Rowdy Tellez (which would hurt me) and even DJ Davis (raw tools are there). That will get you something, the question is who? After the Tulo deal, you can't even assume it will be someone you even thought was available. But I still like Tyson Ross (whom I fear can't be had without giving up Norris). A little over 60 hours to go