Monday, February 1, 2010

Yo, Anthopoulos! Be More Like The...Leafs?

Alex Anthopoulos would do well to highlight a page of the book on Brian Burke today.

In one fell swoop the Leafs GM managed to recreate the culture of his hockey club. Obviously, blockbuster mid-season deals like this aren't very common in the sporting world any more, let alone in baseball. Burke brought in two big name players, and I'm sure we're all very excited about it, but more importantly he got rid of six players from his under-achieving and often complacent looking roster.

The criticism had been made that the Leafs were not hungry enough, and that they had become too accustomed to losing. So, Burke got rid of 30% of his roster, at least half of whom were having their best season in the NHL. None of them were irreplaceable, though, so Burke allowed himself to cut ties with them.

Burke also managed to dispense with what most people believed was an immovable contract in Jason Blake. The only contract that might be harder to move in the city of Toronto was Vernon Wells', and now I have a little bit more hope. (note: that still doesn't mean there's much hope, but a little optimism never hurt)

Although the Jays probably aren't going to be as embarassing as the Leafs in the upcoming season, I don't think that it's much of a stretch to say that they've probably become pretty accustomed to missing the play-offs. I don't presume to put all of the blame on the players, but eventually something's got to give. In my opinion, there are still too many players on the roster who've had their chance - and missed it - to help the Jays take it to the next level.

At this point I should probably point out that I am a huge fan of big trades, if you didn't realise that already.

The Blue Jays, and specifically AA, have made sweeping changes this off-season. There should be very good, healthy competition for positions in the outfield, bullpen, and starting rotation. I can't help but feel, though, that the team would be much further ahead if a few culture shock type trades took place. There are rumours that guys like Scott Downs and Jason Frasor might be on the trading block, and as much as I'd like to keep watching them pitch, I'd be just as happy to see the clubhouse reboot further.

I would also be overjoyed to see Wells and Lyle Overbay moved. Even if the Blue Jays have to eat half of Wells salary. You know, I'd even be curious to see what Aaron Hill or Adam Lind could fetch at the deadline.

It's going to be pretty hard to move this team towards the post season with a roster of players who don't expect to, or believe they can get there.

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