Friday Sept 1st 2017



Andrew MacDonagh - Crystal Ball Press

Thank goodness, a sense of logic has returned the Blue Jays front office.  After a nervous July and August filled with stops and starts, the team has finally realized that it’s time to rebuild.  This came almost too late, it came within a hair of this club being mired under huge contracts and a depleted farm system for another generation.  

We all know the waiver trade deadline passed yesterday.  This is a much more definitive stop to player movement than the original trade deadline at the end of July. The buck stops here and this is really the last chance to re-shape and start a new idea.  The Blue Jays have.

Here is the time line for what has proved to be a very busy last 96 hours for Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays brass:

Aug 28th 2017 – The Blue Jays make a statement for the future by moving Justin Smoak to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals, knowing full well they have several players and contracts they will not be able to keep go “all-in” with this move.  Only 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, the Royals believe if they can punch their ticket into the post-season, anything is possible with their experience. Terrific haul for the Blue Jays who sources say believe Smoak’s season will turn out to be a “blip” once the rest of the league adjusts to him next season. The Blue Jays receive top prospects Khalil Lee (OF) and Josh Staumont (RHP), ranked #2 and #3 prospects in Royals system.

Aug 29th 2017 – The Blue Jays show they were by no means finished as they move Russell Martin to the Minnesota Twins to help them add a veteran voice in the clubhouse and on the field as they make their playoff push.  The Blue Jays will be on the hook for 50% of Martin’s salary for the duration of his contract unless bought out.  In which case that would fall on the Twins.  The Jays receive in the deal Royce Lewis (SS), ranked 37th overall prospect by Baseball America.

On the same day, the Blue Jays deal Marco Estrada AND Troy Tulowitzki over to the L.A. Angels who have been terribly depleted by injuries to their pitching staff and suffered set-backs to Escobar, Yunel Escobar who is still not 100%. The Blue Jays will cover half of a suddenly healing Tulo’s remaining salary for the duration of his contract. In return, the Blue Jays receive Matt Thaiss (1B) who is in double A right now and was the #3 prospect in the Angles system.

Aug 31st 2017 – The Blue Jays finished off with a less dramatic move but important just the same, moving Loop to the Houston Astros as they prepare for what they hope is a long playoff run. For Loop the Blue Jays will receive conditional players based on where the Astros season goes.  A championship? Means better players for the Jays.

Thank Goodness.  I was worried for a moment that the Blue Jays would hang to these veteran players, allowing fans to buy into the illusion of a playoff berth that has seven teams between us and it. In the name of attendance and name recognition instead of good baseball sense.  God knows the city has enough aging stars playing out the string over the years at Maple Leafs Gardens and the ACC. The Atkins stamp is now on this club.  The minor league system is now restocked and ready for the future.  This could have been brutal.  This could have been an aging team getting older, filled with unmovable players.

Close call.  I would not have wanted to see Russell Martin try to haul his broken body onto the field next year.  Likewise, for Tulo who has the appearance of a man who finds even putting sugar on his cereal laboring and gives me motion sickness with his frantic and high questionable running delivery to first.  Just plant your feet man.  Even Jeter would stand still on occasion. Smoak will strike out next year.  And do it often. Strike Outs are en vogue these days and Justin will be on the cover of Strike Out GQ.

It might not have been the popular moves.  But they were the right ones.  The Blue Jays have joined the Leafs rebuilding party and with the likes of Khalil Lee and Royce Lewis in the fold joining Vlad Jr. and Bichette, the future looks bright. In some alternate universe perhaps the Blue Jays don't make these moves.  If that were to ever be the case. Oh dear.

Next week we look back on the 20 year career of Mets fireballer Sid Finch.