Monday, December 19, 2011

What Yu Talking About?

Alas, the Yu Darvish sweepstakes have come and gone, and much to the chagrin of the rather vociferous Blue Jays fan base, the Texas Rangers have emerged as the winners of the exclusive negotiating rights with Nippon Ham's prized Fighter.

While the Blue Jays fell short, the saga managed to invigorate Jays fans to a level that I can't recall in recent memory, and demonstrated that a profound passion for baseball in Toronto is not a thing of the past. It's simply dormant.

And despite the initial shock and disappointment -- and contrary to the premature and ubiquitous reports suggesting the Jays' bid had blown all others out of the water -- the fact that the Jays didn't obtain the rights to negotiate with Darvish is actually quite consistent with Alex Anthopoulos' modus operandi.

In fact, the two moves AA has made this offseason -- trading for Jeff Mathis and Sergio Santos -- are a microcosm of his philosophy, which espouses the acquisition of cost-controllable assets. It was a tad optimistic (and somewhat delusional) to expect him to venture into a pursuit that would've ended costing upwards of $100M.

Do I think the Jays bid on Darvish? Yes. Do I believe it was a competitive bid? I do. But AA, above all else, thinks economically. No algorithm exists for calculating how performance in Japan translates to performance in the MLB (see: Dasiuke Matsuzaka), and frankly, dishing out nine figures on a man who has never thrown a pitch in a big league uniform is not the kind of calculated, economically-astute move that has come to define AA.

Since taking over for JP Ricciardi in October of 2009, Anthopoulos has quickly established himself as one of the most savvy executives in the game with shrewd moves that A) give the organization leverage rather than the player; and/or B) bring in high-risk/reward players at a relatively low cost. Signing Darvish would've been a pretty dangerous first deviation from this model.

Of course, seeing Darvish in a Jays uniform would've been really cool. And yes, Darvish's presence would've ushered in a new contingent of fans to the Rogers Centre -- at least once every five days. But the fact that the Jays didn't land him doesn't necessarily mean that 2012 is simply another building block year.

In fact, in regards to reinforcing the rotation, there are likely better alternatives to Darvish (and his price-tag) anyway. Various reports suggest that the Cubs are interested in trading right-hander Matt Garza, who has plenty of experience and success pitching in the AL East; southpaw Gio Gonzalez of the Oakland A's is also being shopped.

And of course, the incumbent prize of the free-agent market, Prince Fielder, has yet to sign, and Toronto has been linked to the slugger in numerous reports.

If Anthopoulos has proven anything, it's that he is liable to strike at any moment, and without warning. So go ahead and waste your tears over Darvish, if you must, but bear in mind that the guy who posted an inferior bid for negotiation rights with the Japanese/Iranian phenom is the same guy who acquired Brett Lawrie and managed to foist Vernon Wells' monstrosity of a contract on some other poor bloke in the same offseason.

I think it's a little premature to fret.

Don't Yu?

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