Right off the bat I’m going to say that this is not going to be fair. But it’s going to be fun. I’m going to judge all of the trades/signings/pickups (well, to be honest, only the interesting ones a.k.a the ones that involve half decent ballers) Alex Anthopoulos has made since taking over as GM. Let’s take this back to November 25th, 2009…
-With AA still “deciding” what to do with Marco Scutaro, he makes his first move as GM one he knows the fans will like: signs John McDonald to a 2 year, $3 million dollar contract. Can’t argue with that one. I’ll give it a B+. But, there was a collective “Wait, if AA doesn’t re-sign Scutaro like I hope he doesn’t, is Johnny Mac really our everyday shortstop?” However, it was short lived because the very next day…
-Alex Gonzalez signs a one year, $2.75 million dollar contract (with a club option for $2.5 million in 2011). Then there was a collective “WTF, didn’t he just sign Johnny Mac yesterday?” To make the signing even weirder, there was word Gonzo left money on the table from the Red Sox to come here. Looks like someone didn’t get the rebuilding memo. At the time I didn’t really like the signing because, really, what was the point? I’m pretty sure defensive shortstops who can’t hit aren’t a collector’s item. Well, it’s safe to say Gonzo’s play has dropped the jaws of baseball fans/executives/coaches/broadcasters/journalists/Alex Gonzalez/bat boys everywhere. At this stage, the least I can give the singing an A.
-Mid-December: AA makes a slew of bad signings. But since the majority of them were minor league deals, it’s nothing to get worked up about. He signed Joey Gathright (released in Spring Training) Raul Chavez (backup catcher in AAA) Lance Broadway (getting beat up in AAA almost as badly as he allegedly beat up some guy on New Year’s Eve) and John Buck (whose value is a source of some internal disagreement here at Jays Balk, with me being the one who can’t bare to watch his defensive blunders and his swing-for-the-fences approach to every at bat, which either works one game, or doesn’t work at all). The Buck signing was OK, but the others were B- worthy at best.
-December 16th, the Halladay Trade. And so began the A.D. (After Doc) era of the Toronto Blue Jays. Roy Halladay was traded for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor, who was swapped for Brett Wallace. Here’s how they’ve fared so far:
Players the Jays lost:
Halladay: 5-1, 49 IP, 1.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 39 Ks.
Taylor (at AAA): .247/.314/.462 with 2 HR and 15 RBI.
Players the Jays got:
Kyle Drabek (at AA): 4-1, 28.1 IP, 3.49 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 27 Ks.
Brett Wallace (at AAA. For laughs, compare these stats to Taylor who he was traded straight up for): .281/.366/.640 with 9 HR and 19 RBI.
Travis d’Arnaud (at A): .328/.362/.547 with 3 HR and 13 RBI.
The trade obviously can’t be judged on those stats, but it’s fun to see how they’re doing. Well, I lied. It’s not fun to see how Halladay’s doing.
I still think this trade was a great haul for the Jays. Let’s put it into perspective. A rookie GM was given the task of dealing the team’s franchise player. The previous GM burned a lot of bridges by failing to deal him at the previous deadline. Doc’s trade value was dropping by the day and AA could feel the spring training deadline set by Doc’s agent looming over his shoulder. And somehow, AA got the Phillies to throw Drabek into the deal when J.P. couldn’t. Figure that one out. Grade: A.
-With the dust from the Doc trade settling, AA still hadn’t holstered his weapon and pulls the trigger on another deal. He sends semi-bust Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez to Seattle for former first round pick Brandon Morrow. League has definitely out preformed Morrow thus far, but Morrow has a way higher ceiling. After missing a large chunk of spring training, he’s settled down in his last three starts and shown some flashes of brilliance. On a side note, his offspeed pitch is about the same speed as Marcum’s fastball. I still like this trade for the Jays, but it’s hard to say it was anything special. Grade: B.
-On February 6th AA made another WTF? signing. This time it’s Kevin Gregg for $2.75 million with club options for 2011 and 2012 that could make it worth up to $11 million. Gregg was coming off a pretty ugly season with the Cubs, where he put up a 4.72 ERA and lost his closer job at one point. Also, the bullpen looked decent and the Jays were supposedly “building” and not making plays for free agent closers. But, low and behold, Gregg has earned the job as the Jays closer and has been their best reliever so far. Not bad for $2.75 million. Even better if you consider we’re paying B.J. Ryan $10 million this year to play golf. Grade: B+.
-The next day, in a move many Jays fans probably didn’t even hear about, AA acquired Dana Eveland for a player to be named later or cash. Not sure if the player has been named or if AA sent a briefcase full of cash to Billy Beane, but either way it’s looking like another steal for AA. Eveland earned the 5th starter spot with an excellent spring, and has pitched like the best 5th starter in baseball. Grade: A-
-AA’s biggest signing was a 21-year-old from Cuba who has never played an inning in the big leagues. After what seemed like months of paperwork and rumours, AA finally announced that he had signed SS Adeiny Hechavarria to a 4 year, $10 million dollar deal. Again, not really possible to say how good of a signing this is just yet, but it could definitely define AA’s “building”. His new and improved scouting department was relied on heavily to make the trade, and soon enough we’ll find out if they know what they’re talking about. I’m assuming they do, because there were a few other teams in the mix, notably the Yankees, who were offering a similar deal. He’s said to be Alfonso Soriano with defense, so I leave you with this thought. Hechavarria-Hill-Lind-Wells-Wallace-Snider. Not too shabby. Grade: A.
-A couple of weeks into the season, AA made a move for Fred Lewis, sending a player to be named later or cash to the Giants. He’s seen regular playing time as the leadoff hitter because E5 has been on the DL. He’s been decent, but looks like he could be a solid bench player with a lot of speed. Again, AA is buying low on a lot of guys and sometimes it’s paying off. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. Grade: B
One last thought on AA’s tenure: Adam Lind’s contract extension. This was an absolute masterpiece. A thing of beauty. A robbery. A steal. A heist. Legendary. An admirable move by Lind? Could be. Either way, this deserves praise. For those who don’t know the details, Adam Lind got a 4 year, $18 million extension with 3 club options. For those who don’t know, Adam Lind was one of the best hitters in the AL last year. For the next 7 years, he will not be paid like one of the best hitters in the AL. Grade: A+.
Overall, AA’s moves have been excellent. When he made a bad move, he hasn’t given up much. The big ones, the Halladay deal and the Hechavarria signing, look good now, but yes, the jury’s still out. The man’s got a plan, and it’s shaping up nicely.
Overall Grade: A-.