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The Dangling Conversation, Part III: Can Analysis Be Worthwhile?

Rincewind:  So Should the Jays go into rebuilding mode?

Hugo:  Good question.  My answer is no.  The Jays third order wins, run differential (better than the Rays) and Pythagorean record all suggest that the Jays fielded an excellent team last season and the results just didn’t match the quality of the play.  That said, not all the starters are back and the offense was a real, not an imaginary, problem.  Getting more games from Rolen and Wells, the return of Aaron Hill, and replacing Brevin Stewie Mencherson in the outfield and Stairs/Thomas at DH will help the offense, but the Jays do not have good offensive talent in the high minors and so help from outside the organization is needed. 

Not many Jays have trade value, to be honest.  Most think of Wells’ contract as untradeable, but I actually think the Yankees might bite on it if the Jays didn’t expect too much back (I can’t remember if Wells has a no-trade clause, but he might likely waive it anyway). They are desperate in CF, Wells is a quality player, and the money won’t faze them.  I might look into that, move Rios to centerfield, and use the cash to sign another corner outfielder – I’ve always thought that the Jays aren’t getting full value by using Rios in right when he is capable of manning center, and Wells’ defense appears to be declining to the point where he will be a rightfielder soon anyway.  But that wouldn’t really be rebuilding, just freeing up money for the future.  I doubt the Jays do it anyway, at least now, though I would be surprised if Wells plays out his contract as a Jay. 

Ryan and Downs have some value, but Ryan’s salary means he might not fetch too much back.  Certainly no one in their right mind is going to give up an A position player or starter prospect for a $10 million closer, but Ryan plus might be enough to get J.J. Hardy to play SS, though alone he’d perhaps command someone like Khalil Greene.  Again, not rebuilding.

Really, the rebuilding question comes down to Halladay – he’s the only Jay who has the status, the quality, and the salary (and the right amount of time left on his deal) to get a real package of quality prospects back in return.  A Rangers fan on the site posted with a possible package that I think the Jays would have to entertain – SS Elvis Andrus, 1B/DH/3B Chris Davis, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and SPs Neftali Perez and Tommy Hunter.  But would the Rangers actually offer that?  I very much doubt it.

Rincewind:  Yeah I agree that basically they can’t go into rebuilding mode. First of all JP likely couldn’t survive a rebuild. This is his team, if he rebuilds he’s saying the he didn’t do the job right in the first place. And you are right the team’s numbers were better than their record, there was some bad luck involved and bad luck should balance out. Just a modest improvement and the reversal of some luck would put the Jays into the playoff race.

And to rebuild they would have to trade Wells and I don’t think he is tradable at that moment. I don’t think Rolen is tradable either, so we can’t do a full rebuilding and half measures aren’t of any value. Really we have to hope Vernon has a season that lives up to his contract and that Rolen finds the fountain of youth somehow. Actually at the end of last season it looked like Rolen had found his youth so….I’m hopeful.

Hugo:  You’re definitely right about JP.  I can’t think of a team that has given a GM a chance to start over from scratch, left him alone as he built the team he said would compete, and then allowed him to blow it up and start over without ever even sniffing the playoffs.  Terry Ryan had a tough time through several years as the Twins GM, but they were operating under tight financial constraints that JP hasn’t had.  No way he blows the team up.