That's pretty much how I feel right now. I've loved Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos since pretty much the minute he took over the job there. He was saying the right things. People were saying the right things about him. It all just genuinely seemed like a good situation for the Blue Jays franchise to be in.
Then Anthopoulos starting to actually make deals. And what we soon realized is that the Toronto Blue Jays didn't just hire a good GM to run their organization; they hired a freaking AWESOME one. They hired a GM that makes me go, "Oh wow... how'd he get that done?" with practically every other move he makes. He's been on the job for less than two years; I live in Chicago, and Anthopoulos has already practically made more superb deals than Hendry and Williams combined.
Sure, the Blue Jays aren't quite in contention yet. But golly, they're so much closer to being there than they were two years ago, even sans Halladay. Now, Toronto has a splendid base of young talent, and one of the best players in the entire game locked up for the next four years. Now, Toronto has arguably the best farm system in the entire game, and a system that's absolutely among the top two or three. Now, there aren't many teams in baseball that have shown such positive direction over the past couple years.
And today, we just saw another example of that greatness shining through. Here were the Cardinals, with a precocious talent that they didn't quite seem to fully appreciate in one Colby Rasmus. Sure, the Cardinals wanted a decent amount of talent, but you're talking about acquiring three-plus years of a young center fielder with genuine superstar potential. If the Blue Jays are ever going to catch up to the likes of New York, Boston and Tampa, they're going to need legit superstars to carry them there. You know, players like the one that many evaluators believe that Rasmus can still turn into.
So Anthopoulos went out and has reportedly spun a deal that nobody expected him to make. Again. Here we are, sitting around on Twitter and such, and once again, we're praising Alex Anthopoulos. I've seen this whole gambit probably six or seven times now in the last year, where he makes a move, and the collective baseball community sits around going, "Did my GM even inquire?!? Look at the price!!!!"
And seriously. Look at the price that Toronto is reportedly paying for Rasmus. In the end, they're dealing Jason Frasor, Marc Rzepczynski, Zach Stewart and Octavio Dotel... for Colby Rasmus (and Mark Teahen's $7 million contract). That's two veteran relievers on one-year deals, a young lefty with No. 4/5 starter potential, a few million in cash and one good pitching prospect. That's it. For a potential superstar center fielder. What makes this even crazier is that Anthopolous seems to be forming a habit of making great deals like this one.
It started with the Halladay deal. Nobody thought he'd get a good return, but now the Jays are staring at Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Gose as the remnants of that deal. Then came the flipping of Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez to Seattle for Brandon Morrow, an unbelievable steal now that Morrow has emerged as one of the game's elite strikeout starting pitchers.
And the hits have just kept coming. Jose Molina, signed cheap, has produced 2.3 WAR over 90 games with the Jays over the past two seasons. He bought low on Yunel Escobar, who has since re-emerged as one of the game's top shortstops. He snagged Cuban import Adeiny Hechavarria off the international market when nobody expected Toronto to be a major bidder, and now Toronto may have an immediate replacement to Escobar in a couple years, assuming Hechavarria can develop as a hitter.
And can you believe we're not even close to done yet? He traded for Miguel Olivo in October 2010, and got a draft pick for a player that never even put on a Jays uniform. He landed the club's top prospect, Brett Lawrie, in a deal for Shaun Marcum. He acquired Carlos Villanueva, he of the 3.25 FIP in 90 innings this year, from Milwaukee for a player to be named later.
Okay, now give me a moment to catch my breath. I'm going to need it to remind you guys about this one. HE TRADED VERNON WELLS' CONTRACT. HE DID IT. Like a true king among men, Anthopoulos did the one thing that everyone assumed he wouldn't be capable of doing. That contract was supposed to be Toronto's shining beacon of hopelessness, and in an instant (poof!), it was gone.
Suddenly, everything in their future looked different. The farm system was once just okay, and the club's financial situation was less than flexible. Now? Only Tampa Bay has a legitimate argument for having a better farm system, Toronto has one contract on the books over $30.1 million, and that's going to arguably the best player in baseball as of right now. And now, try to remember that Anthopoulos has done all of this IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS.
When Alex Anthopoulos took over the Blue Jays in 2009, a lot of people were worried that Toronto would be sitting in fourth- or fifth-place for most of the upcoming decade. Now? There are few teams that have brighter futures than the Jays. Man, I just wish I was as good at anything as Anthopoulos is proving to be at running a baseball team.