Sports Opinion & Analysis

The AL East Better Watch Out (And So Should The Rest Of The League)

In MLB on December 17, 2012 at 11:01 am

By Jonathan Danielson

The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t screwing around.

After a series of bad (to horrible) logos since redesigning the classic blue bird worn from 1977-to-1997, the Jays spent last year reinventing the team’s look for the field. What’s old is new again, and the Jays went back to their roots with their new (old) retro-inspired logo.

Lesson learned? Don't mess with a sure thing.

Lesson learned? Don’t mess with a sure thing.

Now that the team’s appearance has been addressed, management is tackling an even more pressing and important matter. They are completely reinventing the team that plays on the field. Forget everything that has happened since 1993, when the team worn their second (and so far last) World Series. In the offseason of 2012, the last remaining team north of the border is going big, and doing it by going for broke.

Earlier in the offseason, the Jays (literally) sold the farm for Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio. You might not have heard about any of this, because the trade wasn’t reported as the Jays acquiring quality players, but as the Marlins dumping their entire payroll in yet another massive fire sale. As the baseball world focused on the penny-pinching predictability of Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins owner, the Jays quietly went off into the night with their South Beach coup d’état complete.

Then, after some time passed and just as the dust settled over prized free agent Josh Hamilton signing with the Angels, the Jays made another huge move and acquired the reigning NL Cy Young knuckleballer from Queens.

Yeah, Dickey's knuckleball is screwy, but he's going to Canada. It's a perfect fit.

Yeah, Dickey’s knuckleball is screwy, but he’s going to Canada. It’s a perfect fit.

Toronto gave up Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard in the trade, the team’s last two quality prospects, but they’re gaining the guy who, in the later part of his career, has become one of the more dominant pitchers in the majors. Is Dickey poised for a down year, after his sudden and surprising rise to the league’s elite? Of course he might, but unlike in New York, he won’t have to brunt the burden of wins like he did last year. He will be surrounded by what should be a very good rotation.

If anything, this is a tough pill to swallow for Mets fan. Your team might be getting younger and gearing up for the future, but they also just dumped a boatload of money on their aging and injury prone third basemen.It’s like every step the Mets takes, they take two to three to a giant leap back.

Regardless of the issues facing New York’s second team, it’s their first team, and the rest of the division, that should be concerned about the recent moves up north. While the Yankees are making an attempt at fiscal responsibility (you know the economy’s bad when even that happens), Boston is still coping with the train wreck that was 2012, the Rays appear to be getting ready for the time they can’t afford anybody on their roster, the Jays have quickly and quietly loaded up to win now, and win now they must.

From left to right: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays.

From left to right: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays.

How long can anyone honestly predict that the Yankees will continue counting pennies? That the BoSox will keep being the division’s funniest joke (although, it did take 86 years to quit being a punchline last time)? Of course the Rays still have the other reigning Cy Young winner, but they too just shipped out major pieces from their roster. While they did acquire highly ranked pitching prospect Wil Myers, he may not even see a single game’s worth of playing time next year. Then what?

Right now, in the AL East, the window is open, and the Jays know it. Of course, anything can happen in baseball (what if the players acquired from the Marlins continue playing like they’re on the Marlins?), and just because the Jays have a bunch of highly paid players everyone knows by name, that doesn’t mean they are a shoe-in for anything (right, Oakland?). Anything can happen in baseball, except crying, but it sure doesn’t hurt to add some of the hottest free agents from last year and the recent Cy Young winner into the mix.

The AL East (and after making that splash for Hamilton, that other team in Los Angeles) are quickly taking notice of the arms race going on in Canada. Come Opening Day, the rest of the country should probably do the same.

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