Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Alex Anthopolous Starts Making Off-Season Moves, But Will He Get it Right?

Many Toronto Blue Jays fans have already heard that they will not make a qualifying offer to starting pitcher Josh Johnson. The qualifying offer would have cost the Jays $14.1 million had he accepted it, but considering his 2-8 season with a 6.20 ERA, it’s just not worth it.

However, not being qualified doesn’t mean he won’t be back in Toronto. Johnson himself said he’d be willing to come back to Toronto and I think the Jays should risk it – if the price is right. I think the Jays should add more pitchers and include JJ –  let’s face it, someone is bound to get injured in that rotation again, so why not stockpile and see what happens.

The Jays did make other moves such as exercising contract options on Casey Janssen, Mark DeRosa and Adam Lind, which means all of them will be back in Toronto next season. The Jays also announced they would not make qualifying offers for Rajai Davis, Ramon Ortiz, Darren Oliver (who is set to retire), and they declined fan favorite Munenori Kawaski’s option, in a move that has angered a lot of Jays fans.

All the rumors flying around are saying that Alex Anthopoulos is looking to upgrade second base, pitching and catching. These are all obvious position needs seeing as it was talked about for most of the second half of the season. There are also the articles and talks coming out saying that AA will be looking to make some trades as opposed to signing free agents to big money.

This is the real topic I wanted to address. I think it’s time Jays fans and the organization itself watch AA carefully when it comes to his trades now. Let’s face it, last year was a disaster and a trade could be considered one of the worst moves for the team if they can’t get into the playoff picture in the next two seasons. There is also the Roy Halladay trade, so far not so great, seeing as Kyle Drabek was injured and in the minors all season long, but there is time to see if that will work out into something better.

There is, however, another trade that AA made, a trade that people seem to overlook sometimes and to me is by far the worst trade Anthopolous has made so far: the trade that sent Mike Napoli away to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco.

Wait a minute?! the Toronto Blue Jays had Mike Napoli? The Mike Napoli who has been in the post-season in the past three straight years, made it to two of the past three World Series and just won it with the Red Sox? It can’t be that Mike Napoli who in his past 3 seasons with the Rangers and Red Sox hit 72 Homeruns, 327 Hits, 223 RBIs, 204 runs with an average ranging about 268-270?

In actuality, yes, it was that Mike Napoli. Remember when AA got rid of the Vernon Wells contract by sending it to the LA Angels for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli?  It was genius, it was a steal, it would only last for four days.

The Blue Jays would trade Napoli to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco and as we all know Napoli would have two good seasons with the Rangers and a great season with the Red Sox. As for Rivera and Francisco, well Rivera played 70 games in Toronto and then was shipped to the LA Dodgers while, Francisco had a so-so season for the Blue Jays, but wasn’t a reliable closer for them at all.  After that season he was gone from T.O. and off to play for the New York Mets.

You never know what you’re going to get when you make a trade, but Napoli had much better numbers than the other two and if you were to only comparing the 2011 season between the three, Napoli still wins. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement), for you WAR freaks out there, in 2011 according to was 5.3, Francisco had a 1.1 and Juan Rivera had a –0.2 with the Jays, that’s right a MINUS 0.2 WAR, when he went to LA he had a 0.7 WAR.

The numbers that Napoli produced in all three seasons could have helped the Jays immensely. So, back then it was all about JP Arencibia and the club was not going to add another starting catcher, so sending Napoli off made more sense, right? Well look at the Jays now, they apparently are in the market for a better catcher. As for his offensive numbers, adding 30 more homers in 2011 and 20+ the next two seasons wouldn’t have hurt and look how great he was this season playing for John Farrell in Boston. Watching the playoffs all October and seeing Napoli play especially well in the ALCS showed us all what impact for his team.

That was truly one of the worst trades AA could have made; Rivera for Francisco would have made more sense in the long run. Anthopoulos is now in a position where every trade he makes will be over analyzed (even more than usual) by the fan base and media, because a lot of his trades aren’t working out and when things like that happen jobs start to become in jeopardy.

We are still waiting to see how “the blockbuster” before last season turns out in the long run, but so far it’s not so good either. Hopefully whatever moves are made this winter will be in favor of the Blue Jays and not another bust.

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