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January 24, 2018

Damned If You Do And You’re Damned If You Don’t

We’ve all heard the saying, albeit a little different, but this spin on the norm perfectly dovetails with the text that follows. I realize that it may look as though I’ve written the title incorrectly.  I assure you, I’ve proofed this.

Let’s look at a potential workplace interaction between a team leader (Elisa) and a member of the team (Jim).

“Hey Jim, the next time you X the Y, can you make sure to Z it?

Sure Elisa.

Hey Jim, as we talked about a few hours ago, the next time you Y the Z, can you X it?

Ummmm. Yeah, Elisa. I thought that’s what I did.

Jim. When you Z the X, please Y it. Let’s not talk about this again. I thought I made myself intrinsically clear…”

Seems unfair, right?  How can one be expected to succeed when the parameters of a specific task change on a whim and repeatedly. And then change again.

Ladies and gents, welcome to the world of the modern General Manager of a professional sports team.  Damned if you do, then repeat OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Social Media, especially, has made it so that this behaviour can stand in the spotlight and wave at an adoring stadium full of people.  Remember when your Grandfather would turn to you and say “If I was running this team they’d be in the playoffs every year and would have championships in 3 of the last 7 years.  It’s a simple fix, all they need to do is….”

Yeah, well now Grandpa can say all those things in a public forum, AND get reactions and responses, AND continue the conversation…

And your Grandpa and her Grandpa and his Grandpa are all doing it.  Every damn day.

So, being that we are staring in the face of a generation of sports fans that deal in hypocrisy as currency, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look into some of the trades, acquisitions and actions of one of the most celebrated GM’s in Toronto sports history and see exactly what was made of the trade/acquisition at the time it was completed and how the trade held up, years removed.‍

Will the beloved Alex Anthopoulos take the stage, please?

Transaction 1:

Trading Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marco Estrada.  

Adam Lind, fan favourite at the time of the trade, was unable to hit left handed pitching.  Relegated to playing a platoon role, he was a liability in any situation he was in that involved anything south pawed.  He was a great first baseman, but fans bemoaned his offensive proclivities.  LOUDLY.

AA traded Lind for WHO!? This pitcher that led the majors in HR allowed?  Yup.  That’s what he did.

The venom in 2014 was palpable. AA had made an error.

Estrada’s 2015 season as a Blue Jay was brilliant.  AA IS DAMN GENIUS!  Estrada posts a 3.13 ERA in 181 IP, with a 1.044 WHIP.  Like redonculous numbers.  Someone buy AA a drink.

2016 was also REALLY, REALLY good for Marco Estrada. Fans fell in love with the man that, some 2 years earlier, led the league in balls leaving the field.  My, how the trade looked different.

And then, the 2017 season and Marco Estrada hit a number of rough patches.  Fans began to call his dedication into question.  He was washed up.  He needed to be sent down or DFA’d, that is until he righted the ship in the 2nd half.

How did the trade look in June of 2017?  To most, pretty rough!

Transaction 2:

Trading Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for RA Dickey.

Ohhh boy.  This might be the one that will get the masses hopping mad.

In late 2012 I sent a text to Barry Davis, then of Sportsnet.  I asked, at the time, if I should be getting a Dickey jersey now, or wait until the beginning of the season.  His advice was to wait.

Syndergaard was a highly touted prospect and the jury was still out on what d’Arnaud would become but Dickey, Dickey was a Cy Young winner.  Not 3 years ago.  NOW.  He was an ass-kicker NOW!

Fans were divided on the acquisition, but the Dickey trade, coupled with a blockbuster with the Marlins, and a brand new sparkly uniform, reinvigorated the fanbase. I was there, on opening night, wearing my Dickey jersey.  The wheels came off the season in game 1.

2013 was a bust. The Blue Jays went 74-88 and were 5th out of 5 in the AL East.  Almost every move AA made to launch the Jays into the postseason was for naught.

Dickey’s tenure as a Jay will be forever linked to the brilliance of Syndergaard.  It will always be thought of as one of the worst transaction’s AA ever made.  Even if you show detractors that, without Dickey’s brilliance in the 2nd half of 2015, the Jays would have been in tough to make the playoffs; that his numbers bear out to him being a solid 3 or 4 in an American League rotation, and his being brought in was a “win now” move because he was a known commodity and Synergaard was a “what if.”

How did the trade look in 2012?  Hmmm.  Lets wait and see.  In 2018?  THE. WORST.  EVER…. IN HISTORY…

Transaction 3:

The rebuilding of the farm system and drafting well:

From 2010 – 2015 Alex Anthopolous rebuilt one of the worst farm systems in Major League Baseball.  Years of inept drafting, ill advised trades and virtually no international presence left the Blue Jays farm in disarray.

What did AA do?

Started from scratch.  He pumped resources into drafting a development.

The fact that he was able to trade 11 prospects at the 2015 trade deadline goes to prove that the farm was in far better shape in 2015 then it was in 2010.  Whom did he trade these prospects for?  Troy Tulowitzki and David Price.  Fans in 2018 will say that AA made a mistake trading for both these players, but in 2015, without both Tulo and Price, the post season would have been a pipe dream without the dream.  Damned if you, damned if you do…

Trading for face of the franchise Josh Donaldson involved prospect capital.  Yeah, more guys from the farm system. Just sayin’.

Marcus Stroman.  You know, that guy!?  HDMH…  Anthopoulos drafted him.  Aaron Sanchez, yeah, that was also AA. Osuna.  Just guess who signed him.  First letter of the alphabet x 2.

But as of 2018, when the farm system has seen numerous faces come and go in trades, it is thought of by many that AA mismanaged his farm system and was too willing to deal his young weapons away.

How did fans feel about the transactions in Sept of 2015?  PURE ELATION.  What about now?

Well, most would tell you the cost was a little high.  Talk about Troy Tulowitzki and watch Jays fans turn the heat up.  Especially if he’s wearing an NHL jersey (wink, wink!!!)

So, as we do on Outta The Park, if there was a straight line to take between two points, we will, almost always, choose to take the scenic route, complete with tents and canteens for overnight stays.

In the case of a major sports GM, those stays should be atop a hunters blind, as the wildlife circling below is armed with teeth and hunger pangs.

My exploration through this topic raises a few questions, though.

Why would someone be masochistic to take a job that involved metaphorical, loaded projectile weapons, pointed at them at all times?

How can we be so brazen to think we, from the outside looking in, could do a better job than someone blessed with having all the information, the plan on the whiteboard in front of them, and the budgetary concerns of ownership spelled out in the simplest of terms.

Are we that narcissistic to think that because we have a social media account and follow some “insiders” that we are equipped to move assets worth millions of dollars on contract obligations.

Maybe we are…

But in any event, the information spelled out here paints a “damned if you, damned if you do scenario.”

What’s say you?

Leave your comments below, internet GM’s! You could have probably written this better than I have, right?

One Comment on “Damned If You Do And You’re Damned If You Don’t

MuskokaSue
February 27, 2019 at 1:39 am

AA got the city excited! Right or wrong it was a fun ride. Anybody excited today? Whats that? (Silence)

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