No new starter for Jays

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos did not bring in a starting pitcher before the trade...

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos did not bring in a starting pitcher before the trade deadline ended.

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 PM ET

The Blue Jays dealt from strength at the trade deadline.

That’s what wise decision makers do, but did the Jays address their No. 1 need?

Gone from 1 Blue Jays Way are outfielders Travis Snider and Eric Thames. 

Arriving are relievers Brad Lincoln from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steve Delabar from the Seattle Mariners.

We had the impression that the Jays

No. 1 need — since a four-game span in June when Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison all went down — was help for the rotation. The three have missed a combined 23 starts and counting. Only Morrow can see Toronto on the horizon.

“We had needs in both areas (rotation and bullpen),” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters Tuesday after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Anthopoulos said the Jays rotation had come a long way since Toronto’s visit to Milwaukee in mid June when the Jays were scrambling for starters and manager John Farrell gave the ball to minor leaguers Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno.

“Look at Aaron Laffey. I know he hasn’t done it over his career, Carlos Villanueva, has an ERA below 3.00. I’m not expecting that to necessarily continue. But things had been solidified — obviously Ricky Romero hit a rough patch.

“Henderson Alvarez has been hit and miss, but we’ve seen how good he can be. Cecil lately has been solid, he’s given us quality starts. Guys really solidified themselves.”

With Francisco Cordero dealt to the Houston Astros and Jason Frasor injured, the Jays back-end relievers have been lefty Darren Oliver, Brandon Lyon, obtained from the Astros, and closer Casey Janssen. 

Lefty starter J.A. Happ, thought to be the centre piece of the Houston deal remains in the bullpen and has not started. 

“We told J.A. if someone faltered he would start, until then he’d have to wait,” Anthopoulos said. “Things have stabilized, everyone else is doing a solid job.”

This was before Laffey faced the Mariners in Seattle. Happ is well rested as he has not started since July 16.

Anthopoulos said the Jays were involved in talks with starters.

“The biggest obstacle to adding a starter?” he said. “Both sides saying yes. From a rotation stand point we didn’t add anyone that could go in there right now.”

The Jays thought the asking price was too high when they were in on starters.

Come February, will Lincoln, plus Happ, be in the hunt for a starting spot?

“I would never rule (Lincoln) as a starter,” Anthopoulos said. “He’s a power arm, who can come and miss bats.” 

There is anger amongst fans in Toronto about losing Snider, one fan suggesting GM Anthopoulos finally paid the Bucs back for the Jays stealing Jose Bautista. 

And there is anger in Pittsburgh about losing Lincoln a reliable arm out of the bullpen.

That’s what happens when trades are made between teams in different leagues ... like in 1990 when the Jays acquired Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter from San Diego. 

Callers phoned the office asking “what did the Jays need another catcher for?” getting Robbie mixed up with his brother Sandy Alomar, a catcher with the Cleveland Indians.  

If the Jays did not think a lot of Snider, the Bucs fluid plans on Tuesday morn were to play Starling Marte in left, Andrew McCutchen in centre and move right fielder Garrett Jones to first and play Snider in right. 

Then the Pirates obtained first baseman Gabby Sanchez from the Florida Marlins. So what now?

Pirates GM Neal Huntington liked Snider’s maturity and believes he is ready “to take a step forward” and will be the Bucs every day right fielder. He was in right field Tuesday at Wrigley Field. 

“Travis is a winning player, with a strong bat,” said Anthopoulos. “Can he find it over 500 at-bats? We had a need for a reliever.”

Snider had played parts of five seasons and has never had more than 298 at-bats with the Jays (2008).

Like Morrow when he came up through the Seattle system, Lincoln was referred to as “the guy chosen instead of Tim Lincecum.”

The Pirates chose Lincoln fourth overall in the 2006 draft from the University of Houston. Morrow went fifth, Lincecum, who won two National League Cy Young awards, went 10th to the San Francisco Giants and Snider went 14th. 

Pitchers and hitters don’t really care where the opponent was drafted.

This season, Lincoln made 23 relief appearances with an 0.50 ERA allowing two runs and 22 hits in 35 2/3 innings. He walked eight and striking out 30. In five starts he was 2-2 with a 6.08 ERA. 

“Fans understand we’re ultimately doing what we think is best for the long and short-term,” he said. “That’s all they care about. As long as we continue to improve, they don’t want us to make a trade at the expense of a bad deal.”

Are the Jays better now than they were late in Monday’s game when Snider was hooked?

The bullpen is better.

The rotation has the same concerns. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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