I was thinking about the rotation at some point this morning. Dickey, Buehrle and Morrow all seem to be practically locks for this business, as Morrow has been apparently throwing at full intensity and, by all accounts, will be good to go. We'll just go ahead and call them 1, 2, and 3, for simplicty. JA Happ is pencilled in as #4 or whatever, but can certainly be replaced-- he projects to be about average, depending on how many innings he can toss, but if there is another, better option when all is said and done, it's not a real big deal. He's a guy who, other than getting hit in the head by a line drive, has been able to stay reasonably healthy, so if he can just go out there every fifth day and throw some innings and help the bullpen stay reasonably fresh, it's not awful.
That fifth spot is really where I get going. Masahiro Tanaka is probably a bit of a longshot, given that 20 or so teams will be givin' 'er pretty hard on him if he's even posted. It's not impossible, but it's probably not something we should totally rely on. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are all there and have been spoken about ad nauseum. Jeff Samardzija is there as a trade candidate, and there might be another one or two out there that haven't been mentioned, at least seriously.
Basically, there's a really good chance that the Jays miss out on all of the above mentioned starters, and need to work something out from within the organization, or expand their trade targets to someone who isn't a top target.
Dustin McGowan, Sean Nolin, Todd Redmond, Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are all kicking around. Beyond them, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are the two hotshot prospects that we're all dying to see, whether they're ready or not. Stroman and Sanchez are likely the ones with the highest ceilings, and might be the best pitchers of the group at the moment, but it's likely that at least one, if not both, start the year in the minors, for seasoning, service time and option year reasons. Sanchez is definitely farther away from the majors than Stroman is, so Stroman is certainly a candidate for the rotation more so than Sanchez.
The thing is, McGowan has no options left, I'm pretty sure Redmond is the same, and Drew Hutchison is probably the best actual pitcher of the five non-Stroman/Sanchez pitchers up there, and is probably more valuable over a full season (assuming health) than Happ. I think that, as of right now, we're going to see Happ and Hutchison round out the rotation, with McGowan having an outside shot, and probably filling a Carlos Villanueva role.
If an upgrade is purchased/acquired though, things get interested. Let's say the Jays get Ubaldo/Tanaka/Garza (UTG herein). That makes Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow and UTG, with one spot left covering the 8 different guys above, plus Happ. This would probably be the time to bring up Stroman and go for it. Time to squeeze every bit of value out of that new acquisition, and field the absolute best team you can during the early part of whichever contract it is. If there's no acquisition, it's probably less of a "squeeze every bit" and more of a "let's see what happens and maybe we can find someone midway through the season, but in the mean time, it's a big revolving door of hot streaks" scenario.
There's all this talk about the need to improve the rotation, and I'm all for it if it happens, but there's some depth there, and some prospects in the pipeline. We'll see Stroman this year, and sooner rather than later barring a trade. If you're committing to peaking in 2014 then yeah, get another pitcher and then have a big fight for the last rotation spot. If we're more worried about staying healthy, keeping assets, and not mortgaging away the future though, there's probably some combination that winds up the rotation in a not-too-terrible fashion.
The Jays signed Steve Tolleson today. This is not likely to be anything of note, but if someone up the middle happens to get hurt, Tolleson could hope to fill Munenori Kawasaki's shoes.
The other thing I saw is a report that the Pirates are in on Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland, both of whom aren't Adam Lind. The Pirates clearly want a lefty 1B who can platoon with Gaby Sanchez, and had been linked to the Jays and Lind earlier this offseason.
And finally, about the picture. I googled Jose Reyes' name right before starting this post. No idea why. Like, really. Zero clue. Wasn't even a conscious decision; my fingers just went where they went and made my mouse click the thing and then typed in the letters, as if I had a purpose for my search. I wasn't looking up stats, I wasn't looking up his contract info, I wasn't curious what day he was born. I just googled his name.
While I was there, I decided to look at some images, because that was one of my options, I guess. Naturally, I saw a lot of Mets photos, a Marlins photo or two, and a pretty good selection of Blue Jays shots.
"Oh yeah," I thought, "he's our shortstop. Sweet."
Jose Reyes is fucking awesome.