For Fans, By Fans

Bleeding Blue: The Trade Deadline

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a GM, as I am sure many of you have as well. Of course many of us play fantasy baseball or play baseball video games (sometimes for 24 hours straight to raise money for JaysCare) and get a small taste of being a GM. However, I’ve always felt that these experiences brushed over so much of what a real GM does. In my opinion, the most difficult and most important job of a GM is one so many people completely forget: self-assessment.

I’m sure some will disagree, but they would be wrong. The ability to assess and analyze your organization and the people and players within it, can create or destroy a championship team. The most obvious example is Pat Gillick knowing the Blue Jays could succeed without premier players like Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez and the Jays would go on to win back-to-back World Series titles, thanks to huge contributions from the players those two were traded away for.

Alternatively, the inability to assess your organization or your players can easily be illustrated with the Pirates trading away Jose Bautista. Had the Bucs been able to see what the Jays saw, there is no question that Jose would still be a Pirate, and Pittsburg would have had a much more successful 2011, possibly making the postseason for the first time since 1992. So the question falls to how does Alex Anthopoulos assess the Jays currently, and how does he feel about the upcoming trade deadline, given the recent rash of injuries to befall the Jays starting rotation.

Many analysts have already started giving up on the Blue Jays postseason hopes, and it’s hard to fault them for doing so. As many of you are aware, the Jays’ starting rotation has been decimated by injuries, losing 3 of their 5 starters over a 4 game period. It was an agonizing couple of days and sent shockwaves throughout the Jays’ farm system and across the fanbase.

After the Jays lost Drew Hutchison to injury, days after losing both Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek, many analysts began to title the Jays as likely sellers come the deadline, reversing their bullish preseason predictions for the Blue Jays as potential postseason contenders.

However, as the Jays currently sit at 35-33 on the season, I have a hard time seeing Alex Anthopoulos looking at his organization and deciding it’s time to sell now or come the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

Since taking over the reins as GM in Toronto, Alex Anthopoulos has been unwavering in his approach and to his plan to rebuild the Blue Jays. He has rebuilt the farm system to become one of the best in the majors, he has expanded the scouting department, and he has never let popular opinion or the win-loss record dictate his moves.

There is no question that AA has his eyes on the future, and whether or not the postseason is out of reach this season, AA is continuing to build towards a championship, and he certainly won’t be doing that by selling off any of his key assets. This is best illustrated with words from AA himself. From an interview with Richard Griffin, AA was asked “If you started the season 20-10 or 10-20, does that change anything for you?”

AA: “No, it shouldn’t. You look at last year, Tampa started 1-8, Boston the same. It’s too long a season. It’s the same as you look at teams collapse at the end, too. I got asked this last year and we may have lost seven or eight in a row and we won six in a row. It’s too long a season to get caught up in anything. It really is. The year 2009 is not lost on me at all. Six weeks in, I think we had the best team in the game. It was exciting. It’s a six-month season and you don’t have to go pole to pole, start to finish. The Cardinals last year weren’t in it and they accelerated at the end. The Braves and Boston came back at the end the year before. The Rockies were out of it and they accelerated all the way to the end. I’ve told myself repeatedly, I’m not going to get too high or too low. We just try to block it out and keep our eye on the prize. As much as you tell yourself not to, you do live and die with every loss.

The ability to evaluate his team and to keep one eye on where the team is today and another eye looking towards the future, it doesn’t make sense for the Blue Jays to become sellers. Not only do they have none of the traditional reasons to become sellers (salary relief, rebuild organization/farm system, etc), but their best assets are still very controllable assets, and with changes to the CBA, draft pick compensation for mid-season trades is no longer, so even someone like Edwin Encarnacion, who last year would’ve been a huge target if he was putting up similar numbers as this year, has had his trade value is dampened, and AA will be very aware of this.

In short, to label the Blue Jays as sellers simply because of a string of injuries to their starting rotation is short-sighted, and doesn’t take into account the type of GM Alex Anthopoulos is. Nothing is reactionary, and everything is considered before making any sort of move. Come the trade deadline, the Blue Jays will probably look a little different, but I’m willing to bet they will be a bit better as well.

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