Editorials

Deadline Day Perspectives: Action-Packed or Status Quo?

Blue Jays

Deadline Day has arrived. Whether it amounts to excitement or results in an uneventful holiday Monday, it can provide a bit of clarity in more ways than one. Get your popcorn ready?

Chris Young - The Canadian Press

Whether you’ve been relaxing at the cottage or spent the long weekend in the city, chances are your Deadline Day activities will fall into a few of these categories:

  1. Constantly checking Twitter while frantically flipping between Sportsnet and the MLB Network.
  2. Turning up Sports Talk Radio while you’re stuck in traffic.
  3. Crossing your fingers that Troy Tulowitzki’s injury won’t result in another DL stint.
  4. Hoping that the bulk of Jesse Chavez’s appearances moving forward will begin without runners on base.
  5. Re-watching, or catching up on last night’s episode of The Night Of…It’s worth your time, trust me. 
  6. Taking a timeout from chasing Pokémon around town…Question: Is there an actual “end game” to this madness or are people just, well, chasing Pokémon around town? Ok, moving on. 
  7. Above all: you’re simply just enjoying your extended break from the work week chaos.

Whichever way you decide to take in the intrigue, it all begs the question: What do fans expect to happen? Better yet, what do we truly want? Realistically speaking, of course.

Attempting to find a consensus of opinion within this city’s sports scene is almost always a daunting task, but with a heated pennant race unfolding before us, I can safely assume that the overwhelming majority would be disappointed if the trigger wasn’t pulled on something of substance. It’s also a fair assumption that after 22 years of discouraging results, not to mention getting a short-lived taste of AL East supremacy over the weekend, reaching the postseason for the second straight year is now the bare minimum when it comes to the mindset of this fan base.

It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Jays are built to contend with or without any deadline action taking place. But, at the vey least, bolstering the bullpen and reinforcing the rotation would be welcome sights — especially after Cleveland stepped up their game and acquired Andrew Miller.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into how the bullpen has performed, I suggest giving Trevor Martin’s recent column entitled: “Relief Woes” a spin. I would also recommend you follow that up with Drew MacQuarrie’s “Potential Pitching Solutions” to familiarize yourself with the marketplace of available trade targets.

With that said, we all should prepare ourselves for this team being satisfied with the status quo. That marketplace isn’t exactly brimming with top-end talent. So if anything were to take place that would whip this country into a frenzy, and truly give this squad what it’s missing, it’ll unfortunately have to come in the form of the Jays dipping into their own top-shelf talent pool.

It’s a reality that only grows stronger considering the official word on Tulowitzki is that he suffered a chip fracture in the thumb of his throwing hand after Chris Tillman lost control of an inside heater. In terms of addition and subtraction, Toronto’s middle infield depth gave this team some much needed flexibility to make an impact deal. But with Tulo’s status now up in air, even for the short term, the possibilities shrink back to you know who.

It’s not breaking news that I’m referring to Jose Bautista. But there’s more to it then just whether or not the slugger is shipped out of town. Cause either way, it could have a direct impact on another lingering question.

Let’s dig into this overall storyline a bit further:

Blue Jays

The Bautista Connection

Will Bautista being rung up to end Sunday afternoon’s extra inning battle with Baltimore be the last image of him in a Blue Jays’ uniform? The odds suggest we should bet against it. With a short list of reasons consisting of:

  1. A contender (which one can only imagine would be looking to add Jose) rarely gets together with another contender to make an in-season deal. And even though a National League frontrunner could render that a moot point (more on that in a bit), it would still require said team to be willing to take on either a rental player or miraculously working out an extension in a very short amount of time.
  2. With only 7 hours remaining to the deadline (as of this article going live) Bautista’s 10/5 rights rise to the forefront even further. Unless the moving parts behind the scenes have already reached their apex, trading such a player would usually need to happen well before being up against a running clock. The damage control needed if Bautista essentially pulled a Jonathan Lucroy would be difficult to accomplish.
  3. It took a bit a time for Shapiro, Atkins and the rest of the newly implemented brass to win over this fan base. They now face a fine line when it comes to keeping that momentum going. This country is undoubtedly loyal, and even if there’s any validity to the rumours of a straight up swap for the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, or a deal involving one or more of their young guns (particularly starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and infielder Trea Turner), considering how much Bautista means to this franchise, the chances of a backlash are relatively high.

However, this shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Or a case of fans letting their emotions get the best of them.

Let’s face the elephant in the room: As much as Bautista’s production as a Jay has seen him go from unwanted underdog to late-blooming superstar — one that represents the way Toronto is perceived across the United States perfectly — YOU RUN (DON’T WALK) to the dotted line if Scherzer is the payoff. And you also take a cold hard look at “elite” prospects such as Giolito and/or Turner who are already contributing at the Major League level. Even more so when part of that prospect package features a position this club currently covets the most.

Don’t get me wrong, though, keeping Bautista in the fold while running the risk of losing him in the offseason for nothing isn’t exactly an issue worth harping on. There comes a time when one has to realize that we as fans are basically at the mercy of a particular team and essentially forced to take what they give us. So when there’s a World Series window, alongside what promises to be a team that will stay in the upper echelon the following year, even with the loss of one its stars, every single one of us should be pushing all in. If not, we’re all just glutton-for-punishment bystanders.

Speaking of going “all in”, let’s bring Aaron Sanchez into the conversation:

Since this site is in its infancy stages, you likely missed what I’ve previously stated. Nevertheless, it bears repeating/paraphrasing:

While Marcus Stroman is showing signs of turning the corner, he’s still performing at an inconsistent rate. Add in R.A. Dickey, who plays the lead role in that very same drama, and this team has little room for error when it comes to going forward with the decision.

Once Sanchez is removed, there’s no going back until next year. That would be more detrimental than Sanchez exceeding the so called “innings limit” that management has apparently placed on him.

Bottom Line: Even if Stroman and Dickey stabilize their inconsistencies, should Sanchez remain on the staff no matter what? Well, the desire to treat a prize possession with kid gloves is understandable to a certain extent. But if the ultimate goal is making the leap over last season’s ALCS appearance and competing in the Fall Classic, particularly when that aforementioned window is begging to be opened, every creative avenue should be exhausted before any concrete move to pen is exercised. Whether that means a hard cap on pitch counts in individual outings, experimenting with a six-man rotation, or even skipping starts against inferior opponents altogether.

Besides, what hard evidence has been presented that suggests the odds of him developing arm trouble will significantly decrease if such a switch is made? One could argue that tampering with what a pitcher’s arm is used to could very well become the root cause of the very same worries you’re trying to avoid.

To connect back to Bautista, his situation could hold all the cards:

If he stays, the opportunity for the offence to come to the rescue on any given night will remain in peak condition. Which suggests the Jays could seemingly get by with Estrada and Happ leading the charge while also solving their bullpen issue with an in-house option.

If he goes, and the return doesn’t net a starter that’s in the same caliber realm as Sanchez, the rotation will have to carry much more weight than they already are. And you can make the case that overachieving has already taken place.

At the end of the day (or should I say when 4pm strikes), whether or not meaningful additions have materialized, our daily dose of playoff-atmosphere Baseball continues with the Astros on deck. Get your popcorn ready, regardless.

Enjoy the holiday, folks.

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