Last night I learned the hard way -- the very, very hard way -- that Alex Anthopoulos cares not for your deadlines.
Originally, the news of Andy Dirks and John Mayberrry Jr. being non-tendered had me worried. Not entirely for what we potentially lost, but what it meant for the starting left field position. So worried, I wrote an entire article on it called The Kevin Pillar Experience that now makes no sense. And, as thankful as I am that it doesn't make sense and will never be published, Michael Saunders will always be the player that ruined my first article for Bluebird Banter. Thanks Condor.
The hammer has officially come down though, Anthopoulos seriously hates platoons and it looks like they are officially extinct in Toronto. There was legitimate value in a Dirks/Pillar platoon or, even better, a Dirks/Mayberry platoon with Pillar starting in AAA, but Anthopoulos has tried to make Gibbons' job as easy as possible next season. The only platoon that may end up happening now is a Pompey/Pillar timeshare in CF, but I think, barring a poor showing in Spring Training, that job is Pompey's at the beginning of the season. Now that I've mentioned platoon this much, this article will probably be obsolete within 24 hours. Come ooooooon trade for Mike Trout...?
So, under 24 hours ago, the Blue Jays outfield consisted of two bottom third of the order bats in Pillar, Pompey and Bautista. As of now, and I can't stress how tentative this is, it's Saunders, Pompey and Bautista. And who knows, without Melky Cabrera, Dalton Pompey may actually end up batting second in the order. Despite being a switch hitter, Pompey has great numbers against right-handed pitching and has been abysmal against left-handed pitching. Unbelievably small sample size alert but last season, in 25 plate appearances, Pompey had a .431 wOBA against right-handers. To hold him to this standard would be unfair to the 21-year old and unrealistic as fans. Thankfully though, for you and I, I'm not in charge of ordering the lineup card.
Up until this move however, Anthopoulos had trouble answering any of the needs diagnosed by the previous season. The Blue Jays were 22nd in wRC+ at 2B last season with 75 and sent six people to the position, the most of any American League team and only less than the San Francisco Giants. Yet, other than Devon Travis and a healthy Maicer Izturis, that position appears to have the same outlook as 2014. It's still early though and it doesn't seem that Anthopoulos is all that interested in slowing down.
Whether this is an unofficial goodbye to Melky Cabrera or not is still uncertain but trading for Michael Saunders is arguably the best deal the Blue Jays have made. I mean, Saunders isn't going to create waves the same way Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin did, but he does fill a much-needed position while simultaneously creating quite a bit of bench flexibility for Gibbons.
During the off-season I like to catch up on the television I missed during the season. It is clear to me now that Alex Anthopoulos doesn't care about my Netflix addiction; he will continue to make this the most entertaining off-season Toronto has ever seen since... 2012.
Seriously though Alex, if I may use your first name, try House of Cards sometime.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Michael Bradburn is a Contributor for Bluebird Banter. You can follow him on Twitter at @mwbii. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org