Tag: Scott Downs

Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Scott Downs Would Be Underrated Bullpen Addition

If the Atlanta Braves want to make one of the most underrated moves of the season, general manager Frank Wren should go out and acquire Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels.

Atlanta has been looking for left-handed relievers to add to its bullpen recently, and Downs is one of the players the team has targeted, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN. James Russell is a lefty who would be a great fit, as I wrote a few days ago, but the Braves could potentially get Downs for cheaper and he’d be just as good.

The Braves have gone with just one left-handed reliever for the bulk of the season. Jonny Venters hasn’t been able to throw one pitch for the team this season, and Eric O’Flaherty only made it through 19 appearances before getting injured. Both are out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

That leaves Luis Avilan as the lone lefty in the bullpen. Atlanta could’ve used Alex Wood as a reliever, but now that Tim Hudson is out for the season with a broken ankle, it seems that he’s needed much more in the rotation. The Braves could call someone up from the minors, but trading for Downs would be a better idea.

Downs isn’t going to come into a game and blow the opposing hitters away, but he knows how to get the job done. In 42 appearances this season, he has a 1.24 ERA. He’s struck out 21 batters and walked 11 in 29 innings of work. Oh, and he has quite the scoreless streak going at the moment.

May 1 was the last time Downs allowed a run of any kind—meaning earned or unearned. That was nearly two months ago. He’s gone 29 consecutive appearances without allowing an opposing player to score. Over that stretch, batters are hitting .183 and have a .485 OPS against him.

The Angels are out of the playoff hunt this season and with Downs’ contract expiring after 2013, there’s really no sense in keeping him throughout the remainder of the year if they can get something worthwhile in return. It doesn’t appear that Los Angeles is very willing to move him, though, per Peter Gammons of MLB Network:

Things could certainly change in the next few days. Entering Saturday, Los Angeles was 11 games back of Oakland in the AL West. If it drops a couple more before Wednesday, maybe then the team will be more keen on accepting an offer for the 37-year-old veteran. Either that, or Atlanta should make Los Angeles a strong offer.

We’re not talking about trading a top prospect to land a guy who’s only going to face a batter or two each night. No, we’re talking about giving up a minor leaguer who’s in the lower levels of Atlanta’s system, and while he could be good someday, it’s much too early to tell. What could the Angels possibly want for Downs? Seriously.

The Braves should have a lot of options in the coming days in terms of potential acquisitions, but if they want to get someone on whom manager Fredi Gonzalez can rely day in and day out, it should be Downs. Wren will find a way to work out a deal with the reluctant fourth-place Angels.


All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 26. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts and all injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus.

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MLB All-Star Rosters 2012: Setup Men, the Overlooked Key Component

Ah, midsummer.

All-Star season is officially in full bloom, and with rosters having been announced, and new substitutions seemingly every day, a baseball fan can scarcely avoid the ubiquitous discussions of which players are deserving and which ones have no business being anywhere near Kansas City next week.

Especially since this time, it counts.

In 2003, in order to the provide additional incentive for victory, it was agreed that the winner of the All-Star Game would be awarded home-field advantage in the subsequent World Series. The idea was that this would stop managers from simply parading players out on the field; with nothing on the line, the only duty of a manager was to ensure that fans from every city would get to see their representative get some playing time.

Since then, managers have been making a more concerted effort to bring the title home for their respective league. Or have they?

Baseball is never about one single player winning the game for his team. Any manager will tell you that games are rather won by a collaboration of all 25 guys. You need the big boppers, the base stealers, the benchwarmer who can lay down that perfect bunt, the long relievers, the lefty one-out guys and the closers.

The All-Star Game should be no different, but it’s those smaller pieces that get often overlooked. Rosters get stocked with big jumbotron-smashing bats and pitchers who can light up radar guns, but it’s the other, vital smaller pieces that can really win you a close game in the later innings.

One of the most prominent omissions from All-Star Game rosters are setup men. The pitchers whose job it is to maintain a lead in the eighth inning and hand the ball to the closer. Often able to pitch comparably well to the closer, the setup man’s job can be a lot more matchup-based, and therefore arguably tougher. They have to be versatile, able to get the strikeout when called on with the bases loaded and nobody out or able to shut down that dangerous pinch-hitter that the opposing team has been saving for a big spot.

All-Star managers perennially overlook these guys, and instead load their rosters up with closers.

Here are five setup men who were snubbed this year, all deserving of a spot to represent their team.

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Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista: Why They Will Both Fall Short in 2011

With all the hype and hope the Blue Jays injected into their fans with their play of last year, there is one thing everyone is forgetting when looking forward to this year. The simple way of putting it: they are going to fail this year.

Generally, I’m one to stick to the team and players and project big years from all involved. However, it seems like the doom and gloom media and fans have all either had a change of heart with Anthopoulos’ steady hand at the helm, or they have all finally given up.

I have given myself the task of dampening your spirits and predicting craziness again after having been called nuts by friends for saying before last season started the Jays would have a winning record.

It is easy enough for anyone to say or predict Bautista won’t be able to match last year’s offensive output. Few players are able to match those stats the very next year or ever in their career.  Bautista should get a minimum of 30 home runs and I wouldn’t even be shocked if he might crack the 40 again this year. Nonetheless, he and the Jays are in for a rude wake-up call.

With all the talk of the Yankees and Rays losing valuable players and taking steps back this offseason, we have somehow been blinded into thinking that we will perform better than we did last year. I agree with everyone in saying the gap has been shortened between us and the Yanks and Rays.

The fact of the matter remains that we have lost significant key players this past offseason. In offense alone we have seen 70 HR walk out of our clubhouse in Wells, Overbay and Buck. Even with improved seasons by both Hill and Lind we will still have lost close to 50 longballs.

Offense aside, we have lost steady reliable pitchers—Marcum from the starting rotation and Tallet and Downs from the bullpen. I purposely leave out Gregg, who himself was effective for us last year with his 30-plus saves.

Marcum was a very steady arm who had even impressed Halladay when he was around. Downs was as good as any late-inning left-handed reliever around. Tallet was a very solid, proven long-inning relief pitcher. Three veteran arms all gone.

The Blue Jays have amazing upside and have a very good chance of meeting last year’s wins. To say they can challenge for a playoff spot this year is going a long way. 

The Red Sox had pretty well every starter they had out with an injury at some point during the season, and most of them for more than a week. They had more man games lost last year than some divisions had! Okay, that might be stretching it a bit, but you get the idea.

Boston, you must remember, despite all those injuries was still able to finish four games ahead of a very healthy Blue Jays squad. A repeat of the hurt the Red Sox experienced last year is unlikely; a safe bet would be Red Sox division champs by a landslide.

The Yanks and Rays, although they have taken steps back with their overall starters, are probably only as bad as the injured Red Sox of last year! I would find it hard to believe they have slipped any lower than 90 wins in a year.

The Jays have a very bright future. This year will be a big year for everyone involved, but with growing comes growing pains. This team will find that with taking a step forward toward having a sustainable playoff team for years to come they have given sacrificed this year to being no more than mediocre.

The Jays will finish where they were last year—in fourth with about 85 wins.     

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Los Angeles Angels Add Scott Downs to Their Bullpen

I am going to say that this week was not the best one in the career of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim GM Tony Reagins.

First, he gets smoked by the Boston Red Sox in the Carl Crawford deal. Then, he announced late Friday that they were no longer going to pursue Rafael Soriano. Essentially, the two main Angel targets this offseason disappeared within 48 hours.

If it’s any consolation to Angel fans, they did sign a pretty good reliever on Friday.

The Angels signed former Toronto Blue Jay LHP Scott Downs to a three-year, $15 million contract. Downs can earn another $1 million in incentives if he finishes a certain number of games.

Well, I certainly didn’t see this move coming from the Angels.

I didn’t see it coming because A. I thought Downs would sign with the Boston Red Sox and B. The Angels already signed a left-hander earlier this offseason when they inked Hisanori Takahashi to a two-year, $8 million contract.

For those of you scoring at home, the Angels have spent $23 million on left-handed middle relievers this offseason. That’s umm, interesting to say the least.

Then again, if you have followed the Angels over the last couple of years, they have shelled out some interesting contracts to some not so stellar relief pitchers. Of course, I am talking about the $17.5 million they shelled out to Brian Fuentes and the $11 million they spent on Fernando Rodney.

However, I am going to cut the Angels some slack on the Downs signing. He is actually pretty good.

Since 2007, Downs has compiled a 2.36 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 236.2 innings. Downs features a fastball that hovers around the upper-80s, a slider and a pretty sweet curve.

What makes Downs so good is that he is one of those rare left-handed pitchers that can get both lefties and righties out. Left-handed batters had a slash line of .152/.247/.241 with two HRs and right-handed batters had a slash line of .243/.283/.354 with one HR against Downs in 2010.

That’s some solid work from the 34-year-old from Louisville, KY.

What role Downs will have with the Angels is still up in the air. If Reagins was telling the truth and the Angels are really out of the Soriano sweepstakes, then Rodney is the only closer on the roster.

Even the Angels have to realize at this point Rodney sucks out loud. Downs could very well find himself closing games in 2011.

Would I have signed Downs to a three-year, $15 million contract and on top of that surrender a first-round pick? No, I wouldn’t have.

But then again, after Joaquin Benoit set the market with his ridiculous contract, how could anyone argue with this contract? I would take Downs over Benoit any day of the week and even three times on Sunday.

In regards to surrendering a first-round pick? I don’t think the Angels cared about that. I think they will sign one more Type A free agent this offseason and that Type A free agent will be Adrian Beltre. I can’t see owner Arte Moreno going down this quietly this offseason.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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MLB Rumors: 10 Pitchers the Philadelphia Phillies Will Court To Fix the Bullpen

The Philadelphia Phillies are a great team with very little flaws.

After losing to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NLCS, Phillies fans were devastated on what happened.

They sat in the stands, at their homes, or at the local bar in shock and could not believe the defeat they faced.

Well, now we are entering the 2011 MLB season and we as Phillies fans must put the past behind us. We must try and make ourselves a better team for the near future.

As I said earlier, the Phillies have very little flaws. On paper, our only weakness is the bullpen.

Lucky for us, the 2011 free agent list is infested with relievers.

The majority of our entire pitching staff are right handers, so I think we should focus on hauling in lefties to make our staff more dynamic.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has proved he can be successful in the business of baseball and I have faith in him again.

Without a due, I give you 10 free agent relievers that the Phillies and Ruben Amaro Jr. will try to grab off of the free agent wire.

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Adrian Gonzalez: Now That He’s Gonzo to Boston, Where Should Red Sox Focus

The Red Sox have Adrian Gonzalez wrapped up in a nice little package, ready to play. The good thing for the Red Sox is they now can focus on the other cogs in the machine that is the Red Sox. This clears the air for many issues which people have been debating, but there is no question now that the Red Sox have a dangerous batting team. Depending on what they choose, you could see Boston have a powerhouse team, or a sickening combination of speed and power. Regardless, getting Gonzalez to 1st gives the Red Sox great defense at the corners. Here’s some things the Red Sox should be up to after this deal is inked.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Moves the Texas Rangers need to Make a Rebound in 2011

Despite a disappointing ending, 2010 was a fantastic year for the Texas Rangers; they won the AL West, and captured their first AL pennant in team history.

However, if the Rangers want to rebound and make it back to the Fall Classic in 2011, there are a few things they have to address.

Like every team, the Rangers have questions at a few positions that must be answered during the off season.

These 10 moves could help bring the rangers back to post season success.

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Toronto Blue Jays Have Decisions to Make on Kevin Gregg and Free Agent Pitchers

Decision time is looming for Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.  

He has to decide by Thursday, November the fourth whether to renew the option on Kevin Gregg for one year at $4.5 million, or two years at $8.75 million.  Or, the third choice, the Blue Jays can let Gregg enter the free agent pool.

It seems unlikely that Anthopoulos would let Gregg go without first ensuring that they have someone to take his spot.  The problem is, none of the Jays pitchers seem like they are ready to take on a full-time closer role, and free agents are only available once the option has expired on Gregg.

A new rule has been instituted by the league that gives teams a limited five-day window to negotiate with their free agents, instead of the previous fifteen-day time period.

That would mean that the Blue Jays also only have five days to sign new contracts with Scott Downs, Jason Frasor and John Buck.  Since both Downs and Frasor were determined to be Type-A free agents, the Jays would receive four draft picks in total if they were to sign elsewhere.  

If the Jays were to let these two go through free agency, and then didn’t renew the option on Gregg, that would considerably deplete their bullpen.  The Jays certainly aren’t lacking in young arms, but the management has often claimed their preference for veterans in the relief role.

It is a strong possibility that the Jays would keep at least one of the these three pitchers to provide leadership and a steadying influence.  The one-year option on Gregg is the easiest solution since he fills the necessary closer role.

Of the other two pitchers, Downs is a left handed set-up man with fantastic numbers and will be highly sought after.  The Jays chances of outbidding the competition on Downs is limited, so they might be quite happy with taking the two compensatory picks.  

So it would seem that Frasor would be the less desired commodity of the two, and has the better chance of being retained by the Jays simply due to the price.

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The Rebuilding Continues: Looking Ahead at The Jays’ 2010 Offseason

Now that the Jays have hired John Farrell as their 12th manager in franchise history, the team can now begin looking into their offseason plans as they look to continue rebuilding in 2011.

The team was fortunate to come away with 85 wins last season, surprising just about everyone. They also surprised everyone by leading the league in homers.

Fortunately, most of their core is locked up, such as LHP Ricky Romero, DH Adam Lind and 2B Aaron Hill. They also have a number of players under control who have yet to amass six seasons of big league experience, such as RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Morrow, SS Yunel Escobar and RHP Jesse Litsch.

That said, this team is full of question marks. This can be broken down into three categories: the Bautista decision, the bullpen bind and their corner-infield predicament.


Bautista Bomb!

News flash: OF Jose Bautista has some pop. His 2010 breakout season was foretold by no one, but the 30-year-old’s future in Toronto is very much in the air. At the moment, it appears as though the Jays would like to work out a three- or four-year deal with the third baseman/right fielder to stay in Toronto with a reasonable salary.

Bautista, however, could take a one-year deal or go through arbitration to see if he can get a bigger payday. Based on his numbers, Bautista would see somewhere around $6.5-7.5 million from the arbitrator.

The potential contract offer will come down to whether both sides can agree on a number in both years and term that will land Bautista less than a 54-homer guy would normally be worth, but a lot more than a guy with 17 home runs a year would make. If neither side is lenient, Bautista is as good as gone.

In all likelihood, Bautista will open the 2011 season with a Jays uniform. Where he plays is yet to be determined, as he’ll likely have to wait to see what GM Alex Anthopoulos does in the free agent market, if anything.

My question is this: is Bautista a fluke? There’s no question that he won’t come close to 54 homers again (my prediction is 25), but will there be a regression like there was for Hill and Lind?

Both players still put up good homerun numbers, but that, as well as all their other stats, slipped significantly. Are Hill and Lind for real? Can they bounce back in 2011? Can we expect Bautista to have a similar slip statistically?


Infield Corners

Current 1B Lyle Overbay, 33, is a free agent coming off a disappointing season. Toronto is currently thin at first basemen, but all signs point to Lind, who played 11 games at first base, taking over the position.

Luckily, their options are not limited, as the 2010 free agent pool is especially generous this year. Big names like Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee are all set to test the market.

The Jays certainly won’t sign any of these players to a long-term deal, but some may accept a short-term deal to get see if they can bounce back statistically in the hopes of signing a bigger contract the following season.

Across the diamond, 3B Edwin Encarnacion sits at third base. The Jays hold arbitration rights over him, but the club could elect to walk away from the soon-to-be 28-year-old, despite hitting 21 homers. Encarnacion is poor defensively, and it’s unclear if the club would be willing to pay him over $4M in arbitration, especially since they sent him down to Triple-A twice last season.

Letting Edwin walk, though, means that Bautista is stuck at third, whereas his value is higher in right field because of how strong his defensive play and throwing power/accuracy is. If they choose to keep Bautista, their best option is to try and groom a new third baseman, such as Brad Emaus. On the market, the free agent third basemen are headlined by Adrian Beltre, but aside from him and maybe Mark DeRosa, the pool is shallow.


The Bullpen Bind

Toronto’s three major relievers from last season—LHP Scott Downs, RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Kevin Gregg—all enter 2011 with doubt.

According to Cot’s contracts unofficial Elias Rankings, both Downs and Frasor will be “Type-A” free agents, meaning that teams that sign them would forfeit their first-round draft pick to Toronto, and the Jays would get a sandwich pick between the first- and second-round in the draft from MLB.  Gregg projects to be a “Type-B” player, meaning that the Jays would only receive the sandwich pick.

Both Downs and Frasor will need to be offered arbitration for the compensation to be awarded, so it’s almost a guarantee that this will occur. Whether they accept it, however, is an issue on its own—they can either accept the one-year deal with the Jays or walk away and test the free agent waters.

Of the two, Downs is almost guaranteed to decline arbitration to become a free agent. His value is currently sky-high: a lefty reliever who can pitch equally well to lefty and righty bats, and also has the ability to save games is something that’s highly sought after.

Few teams forfeit draft picks for a late-inning reliever, but many teams are currently just a solid bullpen arm away from becoming serious World Series contenders—namely, the Yankees and Red Sox. Downs will almost assuredly receive an offer from both clubs, as well as from about half the league as well.

Frasor, however, isn’t in the same boat. He’s coming off a below-average season and lost his job as the team’s closer early in the year. At the moment, his interest on the open market is unclear, and you can expect fewer teams to come calling if they’re forced to lose a draft pick to sign him. Because of this, Frasor is likely in Toronto for at least one more season.

Finally, we get to Gregg, in which the Jays have two options. As to which route they can take—they can sign him for $4.5 million for 2011 or lock him up for 2011 and 2012, which would cost the club $8.75 million over the two seasons. Gregg saved 37 games last season, but isn’t the prototypical “closer” that most teams look for.

His “stuff” isn’t great and is nowhere comparable with other closers who are in or around 30 saves. Until the Jays either sign or develop a closer in waiting, it’s hard to imagine the club at least not picking up one of the options.

Downs would be the best option in terms of getting key outs. That said, he’s too important to simply limit to ninth-inning duties. He needs to be available in the fifth, sixth or seventh when the Jays need a double-play ball or to get a lefty bat out with two on and two out. I’d like to see others get chances—guys like RHP Shawn Camp or RHP Casey Janssen could be given tries, and if all else fails, they can always go with a closer—by committee.



I don’t claim to know everything about baseball, but these are just some ideas. I’ve been high on RHP John Lackey for years, and now’s Toronto’s chance to get him. He’s finally a free agent, and Toronto would be a great place for him to bounce back from an inconsistent 2010 campaign. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be the No. 5 either.

I’d really take a serious look at OF Carl Crawford and OF Jayson Werth. Both guys add power, speed and defensive ability to the lineup, a deadly combination. Take a look at teams like the Rangers, Rays, etc.. They’re all fast teams. Not all their players are fast, but they can, and know how to, run well.

If you can put pressure on the pitcher and make him lose concentration by worrying about you, you’re halfway there. Adding Werth or Crawford means more steals and allows the Jays to be more aggressive on the basepaths since they now have faster options. Neither player would come with a terribly high price tag either.

Speaking of price tags…Mannywood North?

Oh God. Yes, Manny-to-Toronto rumours have started. Again. Manny told ESPNdeportes.com on Monday night that he’d be interested in playing for Farrell in Toronto.

“John has tremendous knowledge of the game, a very pleasant man and he trains ballplayers. Toronto has made a great acquisition. Farrell is a manager for whom I would like to play, and Toronto is a team I’ve liked since they had all those Dominican players in the ’80s…I still have a lot of baseball left in me. I think that I can still bat if I keep myself healthy, and it is less probable to have an injury playing as the designated hitter.”

Well, he’s not wrong. Personally, I can’t stand Manny. He’s slow, he’s dim-witted, he’s annoying, he hogs the spotlight and is a clubhouse cancer. I’d rather have Werth or Crawford over Manny any day of the week.

But at the right price, Manny in Toronto (*only* as the DH) would be another great power bat to add to the lineup. He did hit .298, but the 38-year-old slugger had a down season with just nine home runs and 42 RBI in 265 ABs because of knee and groin issues, which are now resolved after he underwent successful hernia surgery. He’s expected to resume baseball activities in mid-November.

It makes sense, though. If Lind plays first, Bautista third and Snider in the OF, the team needs a new DH. It doesn’t make sense for Toronto to use a DH-by-committee whenever someone needs some time off—if there’s a power bat available at a good cost, go for it. The Twins had this with Jim Thome this year, and he worked wonders when Justin Morneau was lost for the season.

Manny still has a season or two of solid offensive numbers left, so maybe Toronto should use them. Since he’s coming off a down-year and recently had surgery, now might be the perfect time to offer him a one-year incentive-laden/performance-based deal to get him to step it up. Plus, he consistently *kills* the ball at the Rogers Centre.

Will Anthopoulos do it? Unlikely. He’s building the team wisely—a young foundation with added veterans where needed. The Jays have arguably the best young staff in the majors, so their starting five is reasonably solid and young.

They’ll need to add some bullpen help and a big stopper for late-innings. I think 2011 is a tad optimistic for the Jays to be seriously competing in the AL East, but 2012 is more reasonable to think they’ll make a splash.

These are the three biggest issues for Toronto. They still need to figure out what’s happening with All-Star C John Buck, as well as finding a fifth starter in the rotation (Marcum, Romero, Morrow and Cecil).

This winter should be one to keep an eye on for Jays fans, as it could be the final steps before slugging it out with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East.

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Toronto Blue Jays Offseason Could Cement Anthopolous’ Legacy as Jays GM

Last October, when JP Ricciardi and the Jays went their separate ways, Alex Anthopolous was promoted from within house. It was a baptism by fire soon after that for Anthopolous, who had a whole slough of roster issues and organizational matters to deal with.

First and foremost, he had to deal with Roy Halladay and his eventual departure on December 16th, 2009. Anthopolous would trade Halladay in an eventual nine player trade that would see key Phillies prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D’Arnaud sent to the Blue Jays. Taylor would then be dealt to the Oakland Athletics for then-third baseman Brett Wallace.

Looking back on that trade, you could easily argue that the Jays came away as landslide winners. Not only did they receive young, controllable contracts, but they also got the best young talent out of the deal.

In hindsight, the Phillies may of been better off keeping Cliff Lee and not trading away guys like Drabek, Taylor, and D’Arnaud. The difference this year between Lee and Halladay has been minimal at best, so when evaluating the deal, you look at the prospects changing sides. After looking at the stats at www.milb.com you can easily see who won that part of the deal.

Anthopolous’ next move was to deal with the crop of Jays free agents that season that included shortstop John McDonald, first baseman Kevin Millar, catcher Rod Barajas, and shortstop Marco Scutaro.

Making the smart decision, Alex opted to only keep McDonald and elect for the draft pick compensation from the likes of Barajas and Scutaro. He would go on to draft Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Asher Wojciechowski and Marcus Knecht with the sandwich picks. 

All these prospects are having good starts to their MLB careers. 

The next move in the offseason came with replacing those lost players via free agency. What was needed was a backup bat off the bench (Millar), a starting catcher (Barajas) and a starting shortstop (Scutaro) to replace what left.

With that in mind, Anthopolous signed Joey Gathright, John Buck, and Alex Gonzalez to one-year deals with the club. Gathright was released after spring training to make room for back-up infielder Mike McCoy and Buck and Gonzalez would go on to have All-Star caliber first halves with the team. He also added veteran catcher Jose Molina to the roster, a most in retrospect that may of been one of his better signings to date.

Anthopolous’ legacy was growing as we speak.

As the offseason progressed, the Jays began to make deals and their current team began to unfold. The most notable deal was the Halladay deal, but a deal that fell under the radar somewhat was the trading of Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez for Brandon Morrow.

Morrow a converted closer, is just realizing his potential as a starter, and has began to dominate opponents, just recently pitching a one-hit, 17-strikeout complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays. League leads the major league in relief wins with eight and Chavez is lighting up the High Desert League in the Mariners farm system. Simply, this was a deal that both sides you can say won with.

A more recent trade saw the Jays trade Alex Gonzalez, Tyler Pastornicky, and Tiny Tim Collins to the Atlanta Braves for shortstop Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes. Escobar, who was suffering through a terrible start with the Braves, was dealt with hopes the Braves could improve their production from the shortstop position for the short-term. 

Escobar took this as an insult and has raised his batting average nearly 60 points coming into the nights action, from a .238 batting average with the Braves, to a .298 batting average with the Jays.

As the year moved on, the Jays began to show the powerful lineup they possessed. Leading the entire league in many team power categories, Anthopolous believed that the team needed to still get more athletic and younger, so he went out and acquired lead-off hitter Fred Lewis, and traded Gonzalez for the younger, more controllable contract of Yunel Escobar.

Going into the draft, Alex Anthopolous went into the draft with something previous GM’s would’ve loved to have—spending money. By all accounts, this past draft for Anthopolous was a very good showing for the Jays.In the long run, it may turn out to be one of the better drafts in recent memory for the Jays.

Having already signed 27 of 56 drafted players, and signed international prospect talents like Adeiny Hechavarria, Adonis Cardona, and Gabriel Canas, the Jays have essentially signed half of their drafted players, something many organizations only wish to accomplish.

After the trade deadline passed with no movement among some of the Jays best trading assets, it was becoming more clear that Anthopolous would rather keep the sandwich picks rather than trade players just for the sake of making trades.

As the Jays begin the dog days of August, and the eventual conclusion to the 2010 season, major question marks remain unanswered heading into the 2011 season. 

Is Jose Bautista a realistic option to re-sign? 

What Happens to the Three Headed Monster in the bullpen with Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg (all of whom are potential free agents)?

How do the Jays replace the void left by the trading of eventual first baseman Brett Wallace, and the potential loss of current first baseman Lyle Overbay?

Who will be Cito Gaston’s successor? 

Going into the offseason, the Jays will be losing roughly $20 million dollars in potential free agents, leaving them with a team payroll of roughly $41 million, a far cry from the Yankees starting rotation that costs upwards of $65 million. 

With prospects Kyle Drabek, JP Arencibia, and potentially Zach Stewart nearing regular major league duty, the Jays could be primed for a breakout year, if Anthopolous can somehow work his magic. 

The very low team payroll heading into the offseason, leaves Anthopolous with a wide range of possibilities to explore. 

I expect Jose Bautista to be re-signed, and 2/3 of the bullpen trio to come back, and Brian Butterfield to be hired as the new manager, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess how this team will turn out.

This offseason Anthopolous will be armed with a loaded farm system, money to spend, and a new organizational outlook heading into the 2011 season.

Now is the time for President Paul Beeston and Jays management to increase payroll and give this team a fighting chance to compete in the so called “Division of Death” in Baseball.

The ball has been grounded into Anthopolous’ glove, only time will tell if he can cleanly make the throw to first base, or throw the ball into the stands like Chuck Knoblauch. If he can bring in the right pieces to add to the current Jays roster, next season could be the start of potentially the rebirth of the Toronto Blue Jays in Major League Baseball.

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