B.J. Ryan, 5 years $47M. A.J. Burnett, 5 years, $55M. Lyle Overbay for Bush and Jackson and Gross. Troy Glaus for Hudson and Batista. Howís a longsuffering Blue Jay fan feel about all this?
This one feels culture shock.
I mean, when was the last time the Jays acquired an established player as good as Lyle Overbay? The answer is amusing: Mike Sirotka, January 14, 2001. If you disqualify that transaction given the circumstances (Boomer having demanded a trade), you go back to November 14, 1996 and Orlando Merced. (Yeah, Iím thinking it too: Orlando Freaking Merced was a good player? Yup, history claims he was. Until he got to Toronto). When was the last time the Jays signed a free agent as high profile as B.J. Ryan? Randy Myers, November 26, 1997.
So youíre telling me the last time the Jays really went out and traded for a player as good as Overbay was NINE years ago, and now theyíve gotten him AND an even better hitter via swap?! They havenít signed a big shot free agent like B.J. Ryan for EIGHT years, and now theyíve inked him PLUS an even more highly prized hired gun for good measure?!
Iíd learned to cope with being resolutely stuck in baseball middle class. It had become comfortable. I relished the little victories, cheering out loud in my car December 30, 2002 when I heard the Jays had signed a player Iíd fervently hoped they wouldÖ Mr. Frank Catalanotto. I took great pleasure in deriding the every move of the Evil Empire, and in predicting their imminent downfall, year after year. I started paying rapt attention to the minor leagues, distracting myself from the hopelessness at the big league level with the untold promise of the kids on the farm. I amused myself building gigantic spreadsheets to keep track of every player in the Toronto organization, every transaction, every dollar committed. Thereís no such concept as 3rd place in the spreadsheets.
Now youíre telling me my team has added more gross talent than any other club this offseason? That I canít ink Doc in as the teamís All-Star representative in 2006 because there are other players with TORONTO on their shirt who are just as likely to be among the very best at their positions? Iíve got to go remove names of guys Iíve followed from the moment they were drafted from my spreadsheet? The unwashed masses surfing ESPN.com think the Jays have surpassed the mighty Red Sox? Youíre killing me.
Sure this stuff is normal for some teams. Since the end of the 2003 season the Yankees have traded for Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, and Alex Rodriguez, and signed free agents Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Gary Sheffield, and Tom Gordon to contracts totaling 173 million dollars. In the same time frame the Red Sox have dealt for and Josh Beckett, Mark Loretta, Curt Schilling, and signed free agents Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement, and Keith Foulke for a total of $89M. Thatís all well and good for them. But Iím a Blue Jay fan! Iím a Canadian! My team doesnít do things like this! My team is all about the gems to be found in the bargain bin! My team is timid and passive, my team politely waits for its turn to come, when the big boys are bored of winning!
Oh well. Just give me some time, Iíll adjust.
With thanks to Ducey for providing the inspiration for this piece.