AA Faces Trouble Right Out the Gate

All right!  Time to get serious about this season, and Jays in the future.  Reading ‘Baseball Prospectus‘ I see that Jays GM Alex Anthopolous is already facing critics.  Here is a little background on Anthoupolous, and the situation he faces for the upcoming season.

Walrus.jpg    

At the end of 2009 the Toronto Blue Jays went
the route of choosing a young, and up-and-coming General Manager, Alex
Anthopolous
. Among Blue Jay faithful, Anthopolous is beginning to
become known as ‘AA’ out of conveinence for his large name.

AA took over the job in October of 2009 after working as an Assistant
GM apprentice to the J.P. Ricciardi for four years. Before that, AA had
been with the Montreal Expos and the Blue Jays as a scouting
coordinator since 2000.

AA is great young sucess story graduating from my Alma-matar,
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, with an Economics Degree. At
23, he decided to pursue a career in the game. He became proactive,
calling organizations and looking for any way to get a foot in the
door. Finally, after getting a direct line to Expo GM Jim Beattie’s
office in Florida, he got his chance. Starstuck, AA says that he hung
up on Beattie the first time he called.

In his short time as GM, AA has inherited a team with many problems
seeking an innate desire to rebuild. Right from the beginning, it was
clear that AA had a new agenda than the previous GM that was said to
have ‘reign’ over all Front Office decisions. J.P. Ricciardi cut Blue
Jay scouting, and AA’s first instinct was to expand it, possibly
looking to go after ‘gem’ high-school prep players that the previous GM
was reluctant to take the risk on. Over Ricciardi’s tenure, he drafted
low-risk, low-reward college prospects that didn’t completely fail
(finding guys like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Ricky Romero) but they
were enough to deplete the depth in the Blue Jay’s farm system to where
they were rated #28 system in baseball.

The appease the public, and address this need, AA showed a committment
changing this by expanding the scouting staff and trading the Jay’s
most valuable commodity, Roy Halladay, for three top-level prospects
that instantly boosted the rating of the Jays system.

The rebuilding that every Jays fan is looking for has seemingly been
initiated with these moves. However, reading the recent issue of Baseball Prospectus
they consider the trading of top prospect Michael Taylor to the Oakland
Athletics for A’s top prospect Brett Wallace a fatal mistake by AA.
Baseball Prospectus evaluated Taylor as a player with much more
naturally gift skill, and having a higher-ceiling.

Wallace, a low-risk college phenonom at Arizona State, was ripped by
Baseball Prospectus for his athletic ability and they made fun of the
way scouts mocking called him ‘Walrus Boy.’ The Jays have notoriously
been critisized for showing a tendancy to disregard building their team
around speed and defense. Trading Taylor for Wallace only fuelled this
debate among Blue Jay faithful.

The current do not have a legitimate leadoff hitter, they have two slow
outfielders that have trouble making plays in the gap (Travis Snider
and Adam Lind) and third baseman with notorious defensive problems
(Edwin Encarnacion). Taylor, with speed and outfield range, would have
been able solve two of those problems. Instead, the Jays saw fit to get
a player that REALLY needs to ‘mash’ in order to play first base in
MLB.

Altogether, AA has been critisized and commended for his initial
dealings with the Jays rebuilding plan. He continues build from within
while cutting payroll and improving his chance to reap the benefits
young players. It is the way in which he is doing it, which has been
critisized.

Personally, I tend to agree with Baseball Prospectus. Taylor would have
been the option with more potential. However, looking at the Jays
current first base situation, they could use help in the area. Teiexia,
Youkilus, Pena and Atkins are what the Jays are up against at first
base. They haven’t had that ‘jumpstart’ in the middle of the order from
that position. I see both sides here, but I’m also skepitcal about how
Wallace with be able to hit, or field even considering his frame. I
believe, this deal could definitely backfire HUGE in AA face!

Do you agree Billy Beane swindled the Jays by acquiring Taylor for Wallace?

Does AA deserve to be ‘ripped on’ for the ‘Taylor/Wallace deal?

How important is it to have athletes on your team, as opposed to players that can ‘mash’?

10 comments

  1. Jane Heller

    I’m not familiar enough with the players involved to comment intelligently pro or con, but when the Yankees signed Teixeira, I realized what a difference a quality defensive first baseman can make. It had been a long time since Mattingly and Tino Martinez (Giambi was not the answer), so I’d always advocate for a guy who can catch and throw the ball. If he can mash too, so much the better.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  2. angry fan

    I was suprised the Jays traded Taylor for Wallace but I don’t think they were swindled. Wallace is a little more advanced and the Jays do need some pop this year.

    AA should not be ripped – he’s proactive at least !!

    Greg
    http://baseballfix.mlblogs.com

  3. yerouttaheah

    I agree, Homer. Wallace may eventually be better than either Dopirak or Ruiz at first, but would he be better than Dopirak/Ruis at first, plus Taylor in CF with Wells in right? I don’t think so. I find it really funny that AA sez he wants to develop more speed, then trades Taylor. Maybe he meant next year, he will go for speed.
    “POWER SHOWS UP TWICE A WEEK, BUT SPEED SHOWS UP EVERY DAY.”

  4. welikeroywelikeroy

    Jane,

    Teiexira is a ‘gem’ switch-hitting first baseman that comes across only once in a blue moon! Definitely was a smart move to lock him up, but kind of a no-brainer. Tino and Mattingly are a hard act to follow, but Tex is up to the task, I’d say.

    Greg,

    I do think that Baseball Prospectus was being a little harsh on Wallace. The problem was that the deal seemed like a thing J.P. Ricciardi would do. Drafting a low-risk college player, or acquiring one like Wallace. You never how it will turn out, but as a Jays fan, I hope Baseball Prospectus is wrong here.

    yerouttahere,

    Thanks for coming by my knowledgable Blue Jay friend! You express the fears of this trade exactly! Hitters do show up, we see them all around and for one reason or another a good portion of them never reach their full-potenial. Taylor is a player that seemingly has the ability to be a 5-tool, 5-catergory player! He is HIGH-REWARD in the outfield if he keeps it up! Wallace is a nice hitter, and probably will be a nice hitter in MLB at best! I don’t see him as being the kind of prospect with a hitting ability beyond the curve! No way he is a legitimate 35 – 40 homerun guy. I don’t see how the Jays can believe in the kid THAT much! Your right, there are many guys like Wallace. Especially at first base. He is a low-risk option, that offers only one reward – hitting. That is why this deal doesn’t seem all that special, and AA has been getting heat over it. However, I refuse to critiques on AA before one of his teams even takes the field.

  5. cookandsonbats

    Personally, I was shocked when the Blue Jays traded Taylor. Admittedly, I live in Reading and am well-familiar with Taylor while I had never heard of whatshisface from Oakland. I’ve seen Taylor play in AA Ball and the guy is very impressive. Who knows, maybe it will work out for the Jays. But if you’re trading a guy like Taylor, I would have figured you’d get someone back who I’d at least heard of. Plus, I would have much rather had Taylor in the A.L. East, far away from my Seattle Mariners.
    -Todd
    http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

  6. phillies_phollowers

    I might have to agree that shipping Taylor off was not a great idea. I have seen this kid play and spoke to him a few times too…he is amazing. And a nice, down to earth personallity as well. You may be looking at a backfire here, but for your sake, I hope it is minor :O)

    Jenn
    http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

  7. welikeroywelikeroy

    Todd,

    Thank you for stopping by my blog again. You rock! Watching Taylor in Reading, you probably see exactly what the scouts are seeing. He is a guy with a potential high upside in all areas. Wallace only may have the upside of being a good hitter. You never know for sure, but this could definitely backfire on AA. However, the Jays have just made what appears to be a very aggressive move going after top Cuban Prospect Adeiny Hechevvaria.

    Jenn,

    You rock also for coming by my blog! Part of what upset me about this was that Phillies fans loved the guy, and we got him! The Phillies were willing to give him up, seeing as they already have a top outfield prospect Dominic Brown and a full outfield with Werth, Victorino and Ibanez. Best case scenario is that Wallace and Taylor are both amazing! Worst case is that this blows up in AA’s face!

  8. opinion4athletics

    I was surprised with the trade when it happened, just because the A’s started to really focus on Wallace & what he could do for our team. I don’t know if Beane “swindled” the Jays, but that’s only because I hadn’t had a chance to see Wallace & Taylor before all of this happened. I am happy that we got Taylor, he seems to be doing really well for us in Spring Training. I hope Wallace can prove to do that same for you all.
    Nice Blog!
    – Opinion4Athletics
    http://opinion4athletics.mlblogs.com/

  9. dymondad

    I had the pleasure of watching Michael Taylor grow up in the Phillies system. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that the Phillies included him in the deal. But I was completely taken off guard when I saw the Jays ship him off to the A’s the same day. This guy is special and his numbers showed it. I don’t know much about Wallace but Taylor was a specimen and doesn’t belong on the field with anyone but Major Leaguers. I’m anxious to follow him in the bigs with the A’s. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about Wallace as the future comes.

  10. welikeroywelikeroy

    dymondad,

    I appreciate you coming by and commenting! You are the third person to come by here with first hand knowledge of Michael Taylor. Brett Wallace will be under a microscope, for sure. Not only did we deal Taylor for him – a potenial stud outfielder – we also made Wallace the centerpiece hitting prospect in the Roy Halladay deal.

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