Blue thunder

Perhaps the premature declaration of the Blue Jays’ dominance over the local nine was an overstatement made in haste yesterday, the likely result of a massive overdose of Worcestershire sauce due to the annual holiday Chex mix gluttony challenge.

“The Toronto Blue Jays have officially become better than the once and former World Series champs.”

I wrote it, yes, I admit. Do I believe it? That I am less convinced of. Others, not so much…

The Toronto Blue Jays are “officially better” than the Sox? You can’t be serious. While I enjoy laughing at some of your entries, you are way off the mark sometimes. Like, ridiculously off. First of all you don’t explain this “official” statement at all. Why? Because they added Burnett for a truckload of cash? He’s a sub-.500 career pitcher (kind of like Clement last year, did he turn the tides on the season? no). BJ Ryan? I will give you that he has been successful as a closer. But so was Foulke. He’s a lefty and throws some heat, but I still say there have been only a handful of guys in the world who have closed for YEARS and been highly successful. I am reserving judgment on Ryan for now. And now Glaus is the nail in the Sox coffin? Please. The guy is physically crumbling and he’s going to play in friendly Toronto and destroy his body on the turf. So you let me know how the Sox have fallen to 3rd (the Orioles and Rays haven’t passed as well? Just checking I didn’t miss this) in the AL East. Do they have holes? Yes. Do they have good looking starting pitching next year? I’d say so. But we are without a center fielder and shortstop so we might as well pack it in.
Tim Foley

Advertisement

Everybody talks about what Toronto did. Has A.J. Burnett proved anything? And B.J. Ryan, why he does have great stuff has been a closer for one year. Maybe Troy Glaus will stay healthy this year?
Eric Goolst

I just don’t see the Sox any worse than last year at 95 wins. And to your “self truth” that the Blue Jays are better than the Sox, I just don’t see how signing BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett gained the Blue Jays 15 games on the Red Sox.
Anthony Augeri

Point taken. And absorbed thoroughly. It’s difficult not to lash out at the ridiculous signings of Overrated AJ Burnett and BJ Ryan, who received more than a million dollars per career save from Jays GM JP Ricciardi. And then, I turn around and go ahead, waving the Maple Leaf around like some sort of deranged Terrence and Philip fan boy. Why the sudden turnaround? I’d like to say a gun-toting Canadian put me up to it, but we all know those don’t exist.

Truth is, I overreacted to the Troy Glaus deal. Yes, it is a stellar move for the Jays, provided, as Mr. Goolst stated previously, if he stays healthy. Glaus played in 149 games last season for the Diamondbacks, the same number he played in the previous two seasons combined for the Angels, thanks to a shoulder injury. He hit 37 homers and drove in 97 last season for the terrible Diamondbacks, but batted just .258 in the process. His .363 on-base percentage ranked in between David Eckstein and Julio Lugo in 2005, 49th – best in baseball.

Advertisement

We’re talking a solid major league power hitter here, something Toronto has not had the luxury of having since Carlos Delgado left town. And yet, not quite a superstar, all-world, sure Hall of Famer, the reason many fans around these parts rolled their eyes when a Manny Ramirez for Glaus trade was rumored earlier this month at the winter meetings. That’s why Glaus coming here was just as fearful for Red Sox fans as it is having him on a team yours will face 19 times a season.

Glaus for the Red Sox would have been all wrong for the price. For the Blue Jays, that will be determined largely on whether or not Ryan is the legitimate long-term solution at closer, or if he was the one-year wonder some fear he could have been last summer with the Orioles. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the disturbingly short shelf life for many closers in the game. In dealing Miguel Batista, who had 31- saves last season, in the Glaus trade, the Jays have no proven fallback plan in case Ryan all of a sudden pulls a Foulke next summer. (Orlando Hudson replacement Aaron Hill, who played some minor league ball in New Hampshire, is ranked the franchise’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, and should slide in nicely at second for the Jays.)

Glaus and opposite corner offseason pickup Lyle Overbay may not drastically help improve a lineup that hit just .265 last season, but they will help it improve on its 775 runs scored, which was already eighth-best in baseball. Burnett will help somewhat deepen Toronto’s rotation after Roy Halladay, though likely not with the impact of Gustavo Chacin, who is poised to have his breakout season entering his third year in the bigs.

Advertisement

In essence, guys like Burnett and Ryan are complementary pieces at superstar prices, a concerning trend in baseball, which has virtually ignored any intentions of the fiscal responsibility which was so supposedly imminent not so long ago.

Do they make the Blue Jays 15 games better? Maybe, but only if the Jays can squeeze a full season out Halladay, Chacin hits the big time, and the bullpen can be the dependable source it was in 2005. Then again, are the Yankees and Red Sox still good enough to win 95 games apiece, particularly with all the dour pitching issues both clubs faced last season? You’re kidding yourself if you respond with anything but a shrug of the shoulders.

If you can accurately predict that Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon will once again play saviors in the Bronx, then Dionne Warwick is calling with work. Randy Johnson is another year older, and Kyle Farnsworth’s erratic resume doesn’t exactly guarantee he’ll be the setup lock Tom Gordon was more often than not. The Sox vastly improved their rotation with Josh Beckett, but have barely addressed the bullpen, except for Rudy Seanez Round 2, a move that generated about as much excitement as toothpaste in your Christmas stocking. Remember, they let Mike Myers get away to the Yankees based on the fact that they already possessed a one-batter specialist in Chad Bradford? Well, anybody notice that Bradford is on the verge of joining the Mets? So…then… Anyone wanna explain that one?

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles continue to listen to offers for shortstop Miguel Tejada and that the Red Sox have made the most intriguing one, including Matt Clement and Manny Ramirez. But the Orioles continue to refuse to trade within the division, and have their sights still set on Carlos Zambrano, though the Cubs continue to counter with Mark Prior. The Orioles may very well look vastly different come time for pitchers and catchers. The Red Sox as well, with a TBD penciled into short and center (although Jacoby Ellsbury’s old coach seems to think the kid is ready to patrol Fenway). Barring a spare piece here or there, the Yankees and Blue Jays seem to have rounded out their hopeful rosters for the coming seasons.

With Halladay healthy and a more mature Chacin heading into 2006, the Jays would have already been better by perhaps as many as 10 games. Is it out of the realm of possibility that further additions like Burnett, Ryan, Overbay, and Glaus might be the difference in another handful of wins north of the border?

On paper, maybe. But heck, who knows. Even Aeon Flux probably looked good on paper at one point or another. The Blue Jays do too. In December. Just one week officially into winter.

Close
Ski season updates, free from the Boston Globe.
Get the Globe's free newsletter, It's All Downhill, for the latest from the slopes.
Thanks for signing up!