By: Dan Grant
Toronto is buzzing right now as the Blue Jays have yet again made a massive trade, acquiring perennial All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies. They also nabbed veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. Headed back the other way? The polarizing Jose Reyes and prospects Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.
I’ve been basking in the glow of Twitter and sports radio since I heard the news late last night. While most people are super pumped about the acquisition, a number of questions and concerns are now being repeated ad nauseum because Toronto sports fans don’t know how to have nice things. They may be a select few, but they are stupid and loud.
Let’s do a rundown of the top eight:
1. Isn’t that guy always hurt?
The biggest defense I’ve heard of this is that Jose Reyes was also frequently hurt, so why not take the younger, higher upside guy if you have to have an injury prone player. And I mean, sure, I guess? But it is a real concern, especially since Tulowitzki has hip issues and the turf at Rogers Centre is notoriously unforgiving on players lower extremities. That said, being in the AL means he can take days at designated hitter, which is nice, and he has been healthy so far this season. The big stat thrown out is that he has played 150 games ‘only’ twice in nine seasons. Which is nice if you like arbitrary numbers. He’s played in 120 games in five of eight seasons and is on pace to crack the 150 mark again in this season, which is his ninth. Not as bad as ‘twice in nine years’ sounds, right?
2. Who will bat lead off now? I think we’ll miss Reyes’ speed!
3. Isn’t that guy getting paid a lot of money?
Yes. Owed the equivalent of roughly $100 million over the next five seasons, with a full no trade clause. That might seem steep, but remember: Reyes was making $44 million over the next two seasons. If free agency began tomorrow, and we could sign Tulowtizki to a 5-year deal, $100 million dollar deal, wouldn’t you do it? If you said no, you are probably Ryan Goins’ mother and/or a cat.
4. It’s an OK start, but Alex Anthopoulos still has work to do if he wants to keep his job!
In rebuttal, I found this on Alex’s voice recorder, which I will transcribe for you:
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
‘Beyond Edwin, the infield is a bit shaky. Lawrie/Reyes/Izturis/Navarro. How about… yeah, OK. Get best position players in baseball at 3rd and short. Add multiple All-Star catcher. Acquire .300 hitting rookie at 2nd. Get milk. And remember, you’re a handsome guy’.
5. Hoffman is going to be an ace! This is Noah Syndergaard all over again!
Listen, the reason you draft tons of high upside pitching prospects and almost zero position players is exactly for this scenario. Breaking news: the Jays can’t have an eight man starting rotation! So if you think to next year, Hoffman’s earliest possible arrival date as a starter, the Jays already have Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison and Daniel Norris likely for jobs, as well as the possibility of Roberto Osuna transitioning back to starting. That’s pretty incredible, in terms of young arms. So if dealing Hoffman brought us back potentially the best all-around shortstop in baseball, it was worth it. As for Syndergaard, get over it. He throws hard, sure, but he lacks a third pitch (for now) and is destined to be a closer if he can’t develop one. He also just reached the majors this year: Jays fans with short memories forget that we were trying to go for it in 2013, hence the deal. Did it work out? No. But if Tulo gets hurt, and Hoffman wins the Cy Young in 2019, that doesn’t mean this trade was made with poor reasoning. Prospects are meant to be traded for proven assets. That’s just how it works.
6. But can Tulo pitch? (said dickishly)
No, he can’t. But he can catch! I wrote about this last week but the Jays pitching has actually been much improved of late; it’s their defense that has been letting them down. By Defensive Runs Saved, Reyes ranked 25th out of 26 qualified shortstops with a -9. Tulowitzki, a two time Gold Glover, has had a down season by his standards, posting a -1, but still ranking 15th overall. That’s a significant upgrade regardless, and when you consider that Tulo had off-season hip surgery and started slow out of the gate, the improvement on that side of the ball could be monumental, which can only help out Toronto’s pitching staff.
7. Hawkins, is like, old. And not a closer.
Yup, he’s 42. He first pitched in the Majors when current closer Roberto Osuna was three months old. He’s also still very effective, striking out close to a batter per inning. He’s also thrown to a 1.10 ERA after an early season trip to the DL, very impressive considering the thin air at Coors Field. He will help.
8. But seriously, what about the goddamned pitching?
It’s Tuesday. The trade deadline is Friday. Enjoy this right now and lets see what else AA has in store. And if you can’t do that, well, see below:
Alex Anthopoulos could have made a move for a ‘rental’, he could have gone hard after the retread names everybody has bandied about for months. Instead, as he always does, he went outside the box. He stayed true to himself and his organizational philosophy. He made the team better now and in the future. If he was going to lose assets, he was going to get a massive one back in return. And did he ever.
Stop doubting the ninja.