TORONTO - Is a four-win decrease a step backward?
Maybe a small step.
What now for the Blue Jays and general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Entering his third full season, Anthopoulos should:
1. Trade J.P. Arencibia.
Nothing against the rookie catcher who hit 23 homers, but stay with me for a second here.
The greatest trade in the history of the franchise was dealing first baseman Fred McGriff and shortstop Tony Fernandez for Hall of Famer slugging outfielder Joe Carter.
Why were the Jays able to make the deal?
Because they had DH John Olerud and backup Manny Lee to take over at first and short.
The player with the highest marketability, moreso than Jose Bautista, has to be Travis d’Arnaud, the Jays best prospect behind him.
Bautista would be coveted by those who could afford him.
Maybe 15-to-20 teams deal for a catcher with thunder in his bat, like Arencibia.
The Jays are not one player away ... Arencibia would bring an every-day player, or a starting pitcher and prospects in a 3-for-1 deal.
But isn’t d’Arnaud scheduled to spent next season at triple-A Las Vegas?
“He might be, but I think he could be for the Jays what Buster Posey was for the San Francisco Giants,” said one top evaluator. “d’Arnaud catches better, throws better than Arencibia, he does not, nor will he ever have Arencibia’s power. That’s what I’d do if I were the Jays.”
2. Do not sign Yu Darvish.
Anthopoulos and assistant general manager Tony LaCava travelled to Japan to scout the Darvish of the Nippon Ham Fighters. LaCava made the 14-hour flight twice.
The Red Sox submitted a winning bid of $51,111,111.11 to the Seibu Lions for the right to talk to right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka and signed him to a six-year, $52-million contract. Matsuzaka was 49-30, including this season, year five when he went 3-3. The dollar amount to Nippon may be $100-$150 million, plus the contract to Darvish.
And you thought the Vernon Wells was a bad one.
How good is Darvish?
“He’s good, he’s a long-necked kid with big shoulders, much more physical than Matsuzaka, he has four quality pitches, I don’t know of any big leaguer to compare him to,” said Marty Brown, who ran triple-A Las Vegas this season. Brown managed the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles four seasons.
“Darvish is so good that sometimes he gets bored and doesn’t necessarily pitch, he plays around,” said Brown from Rolla, Mo.
Brown explained that the aces only pitch on Sundays in Japan.
“They draw their biggest crowds on Sundays, ace against ace, if we went on a trip our best guy wouldn’t even come sometimes,” said Brown since most Japanese teams go with a six-man rotation.
Brown managed right-hander Hiroki Kuroda in Japan, now a Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The year before Kurota came out I pitched him on four days rest, he was willing to change,” Brown said. “No one is better than Darvish, believe me. He’s the guy you want one game to win ... over there.”
Hisashi Iwakuma tried to come with the posting system last year but talks with the A’s fell apart. Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, 30, of the Softbank Hawks was 13-5, with a 1.70 ERA this year.
3. Go after Mark Buerle.
Buehrle, 32, who earned $14 million this year with the Chicago White Sox, before hitting the free-agent market, was 13-9 in 31 starts.
If he can be had at a reasonable amount within budget and the Jays can field the ball behind him, he would be a good short-term investment.
Would bringing back DeWayne Wise, who saved his perfect game in 2009, make the Jays more attractive.
4. Fix the bullpen.
Frank Francisco will do if he can be re-signed, but the jays need to improve the bridge from starter to closer.
They do not need high-priced Heath Bell or Jose Valverde.
Shawn Camp should be re-signed. Tampa Bay’s Joel Peralta would be a good fit.
5. Bring back all the coaches.