We all know you have to give to get. It is never easy to give, no matter the return. Except today.
What We Lost
The biggest piece the Jays parted with is Marc Rzepczynski. Whacked out of their gourds as the Cardinals might be, I remain confident they'll do the right thing and return Rzep to the rotation; where he will quickly turn himself into Jaime Garcia's Polish Brother.
Ghostrunner on First is pretty much Ground Zero for Rzepczynski love - losing him hurts differently than the other GROF pet projects. I'm bummed he's gone but tempered heavily by, you know, all the bonerz.
The Cardinals did improve their bullpen for this season, which is the basis under which they generally operate. Appease The Genius and win now. Say what you want, they're aren't exactly wasting the peaks of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday waiting for a "troubled youth" to figure it out.
Jason Frasor hurts to lose but only in the most sentimental way possible. It is nice (and fitting) he set the appearances record recently and is now gone. It's the nature of the battle he fought so well for so long.
He got his eulogy and we all noticed how fond we are of Frasor and how thankless his role. His job is an easy one to fill right up until it comes to actually doing so.
Zach Stewart will likely appear in a number of big league baseball games. Either as a starter or reliever, he will get there. Some really like him while others suggest he's 25 and playing at Double-A. I cannot pretend to know too much either way so I'll just say neither fate will surprise me.
Trading Dotel and Patterson is a testament to patience, and how much of it smart people have while dummies like us bray for blood all too easily. Two true pros who will go about their highly specialized business in the most businesslike manner imaginable.
Dotel is like a La Russa wet dream, when you think about it. Patterson is a nightmare for Cardinals fans, a La Russa fever dream of too clever by a half in-game ego stroking. Corey Patterson will single-handedly strip the Cardinals of the "best fans in baseball" moniker, just you watch.
What We Gained
Hope. By the truckload.
An unshakable belief in a general manager we already believed in implicitly.
Colby Rasmus, a hopefully not very sick but good to have around again like an old shoe Brian Tallet, proto-LOOGY Trevor Miller, other things shaped like Mark Teahan. Colby Rasmus. Colby Rasmus. And somehow, even more swagger.
As much as AA likes to crow about the value of good people and good citizens, he's clearly drawn to (and sees fit to compile) swagger. Swagger puts some baseball people off, which is fine. Most people I know, in real life and on the internet, are not some baseball people. We like swagger because guys with swagger can often play.
Throw a bunch of swagging ballplayers who aren't quite living up to expectation together and you have, at the very least, potential. Imbue these malcontents with the freedom to let their freak flags fly, with some gentle pillow talk about how much belief there is in them, and you just might have something more.
Throw a few option-heavy contracts their way and you have a carrot-on-a-stick to go with the chip on their shoulder - you have fuel for their hate game. That fuel might just burn hot and move the whole ship along at high speed.
What it all means
Phase One of The Plan is now over. 2012 is now Next Year. It is, in a word, fucking on.
Not only is getting a cost-controlled, 24 year-old centerfielder with a 4 WAR season already under his belt a great move for the club moving forward, it is also the kind of move that reverberates. Moving from a replacement level-ish stopgap to a guy with legit 6 Win upside right now, not 4 years down the road means the club requires one fewer piece to compete. One piece (Prince Fielder?) makes them not a good team but a competing team. A "better than the Rays" team. A "shit down the throats of the AL Central" team. A "buy your tickets now" team.
It is happening, people. Maybe Prince Fielder is a bad example but, then again, maybe he isn't? This coming offseason starts the whole "marginal win value" debate anew. That is a debate that can be an awful lot of fun.
Then again, why go out and throw money at a player when another GM will grow tired of some underperforming asset. Whomever will stand by ready to scoop up that unwanted trash? The Toronto Blue Misfits want your problem children - they're starting a movement.