So after two trades involving potentially as many as 14 players (the Cardinals still have the choice between receiving three ‘players to be named later’ or cash from Toronto), it’s safe to say that there’s been some shuffling going on in Blue Jays land.
Out are Jason Frasor, Marc Rzepczynski (who I’ll miss as a reliever, but certainly not as a name to type out), Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson and Zach Stewart; their exits ushering in a revamped (although not likely long-lasting) bullpen, a new-look outfield and some changes to the left side of the infield. And to think that most on-lookers expected a quiet deadline from the Jays!
Now, about these new guys. What can be made of a group that includes a talented youngster with maturity issues, two prodigal sons, a naturalized (and overpaid) Canadian and a PJ?
The Talented Youngster
For the Blue Jays, the trade’s biggest risk doesn’t come in what they gave up, but rather what they acquired. Much ink has already been spilled on Colby Rasmus’ testy relationship with Cards manager Tony La Russa and his issues with authority. However, it’s another Tony that may pose the biggest problem, as Tony Rasmus, the father of the 24-year old, is said to have an overly significant influence on his son’s pro career (think Carl and Bonnie Lindros).
Whether that is true or not – and whether or not Colby is simply a good but misunderstood kid who was in a bad situation – he hasn’t played to potential and St. Louis’ willingness to part ways with him speaks to a frustration in his development on the part of the organization.
How Rasmus responds to his new environment will reveal everything about how this trade works out. If he embraces the fresh start and takes advantage of his phenomenal tools, Alex Anthopoulos will have acquired an elite, young outfielder with both power (his .859 OPS in 2010 ranked behind just Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Ryan Braun among outfielders) and speed. If his attitude problems weren’t exclusive to St. Louis, he could create a rift in the Jays’ clubhouse and evoke the worst in guys like Yunel Escobar and, eventually, Brett Lawrie and Kyle Drabek.
The Prodigal Sons
It’s funny that the player to receive the second biggest response of the new acquisitions has been Brian Tallet, who is back after an initial stint made more memorable by his quirky appearance than anything he actually contributed on the mound. The reality is that Tallet is, in fact, the least significant among the new Jays. Now, in a thin bullpen short on left-handed pitching, he’ll likely get his chances, but it’s hard to fathom this stint lasting as long as his previous five-year tenure did.
On the other hand, fellow lefty and former Jay Trever Miller, whose forgettable 2003 season in Toronto included a 2-2 record, three saves and a 4.61 ERA, may find himself filling a needed role as a situational southpaw. Miller has been effectively utilized as such over three seasons in St. Louis, facing one or two batters at a time and relying more on placement of pitches and off-speed movement to get hitters out (good thing, too, as he’s 38 years of age). Still, there’s little reason to expect either man to be part of the team’s plans beyond this season.
The Naturalized Canadian
Okay, so picking up Mark Teahen represents subtraction by addition – that is, a guy whose .203 average and .277 OBP in no way justify the $6 million+ and one year left on his contract, so Chicago insisted that Anthopoulos take him off their hands. But hey, the organization has the money to spend, he’s Canadian (well, through his dad) and he provides some insurance and a defensive boost at third base.
So Teahen brings something to the table defensively and depth-wise. Unfortunately, the 29-year old has also regressed offensively in each of the past three seasons and hasn’t sniffed a .350 OBP over a whole season since 2007. In other words, while he may well hang on with the club through next season, it’s hard to fathom him playing any kind of prominent role (barring injuries, of course).
That would be PJ as in P.J. Walters, a 6’4” righty with an unsightly 7.38 ERA in parts of three seasons at the Major League level. However, the Jays see a still-developing 26-year old kid with a big frame and an impressive 39 strikeouts over 50.0 innings pitched. A late bloomer at every level from his days at the University of Southern Alabama, Walters could not have been at 100% over the past season and a half having suffered through the death of his newborn daughter two days prior to Opening Day in 2010.
Walters could be one of the few relief options that hang on with the club following this season. As a young project who has yet to reach arbitration eligibility, he could prove to be an inexpensive, low-risk asset that would really only cost them a roster spot (and not even that, given that he can still be demoted without having to clear waivers). At best, he’s a guy that could grow into a viable bullpen contributor with a club that can afford to be patient with him. At worst, he’ll flame out and the Jays won’t lose much in ridding themselves of him.
About the Author
Written by Ben Fisher