* The Blue Jays lost out in the Ervin Santana sweepstakes, but Bob Elliott says life will go on for the Toronto ballclub. Santana, after all, wasn't the missing piece in a World Series run. ....
April Whitzman: Social buzz: Juniors and Jays
By Bob Elliott
DUNEDIN - It was raining Wednesday morn outside the Blue Jays clubhouse when the news dripped inside.
Free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana was signing with the Atlanta Braves.
Is the season doomed?
The storm clouds were gathering.
And around 11 o’clock, the sun came out.
The sun will probably rise again Thursday morn and again on March 31, opening day.
The Bravos signed Santana to a one-year deal at $14.1 million US.
It’s either roughly or exactly the same as what the Jays offered.
The big numbers here, the numbers that spelled the difference for Santana and his agent Jay Alou, were: 96 and 74.
The Braves won 96 times in 2013.
The Jays managed 74 wins.
So, if you were a free agent, which team do you reckon has the better chance of playing in the post-season? Who could better increase Santana’s earning power as he enters free agency in November?
Well, it’s not the one with the nickname that starts with the letter B, that rhymes with T, and that stands for trouble when it comes to the Blue Jays' starting rotation, to paraphrase Robert Preston in The Music Man.
This was not losing out on Yu Darvish or watching Al Leiter bolt to the Florida Marlins in 1996.
This was not watching the season go down the tubes.
Would Santana have made the Jays rotation better? Yes. He would not have made the Jays a contender.
Did you figure that the Jays would have won the division with a Pick Five rotation of: R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Santana and Drew Hutchison?
Now it’s Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Hutchison and who?
JA Happ? Todd Redmond? Or dare we say, Ricky Romero?
Why not Aaron Sanchez?
When Jack Morris and Dave Winfield signed with the Jays as free agents for 1992, it was to play for a winner.
When free agents Dave Stewart and Paul Molitor signed in 1993, it was to play for the World Series champs and reach post-season play again.
The Braves live in a rich neighbourhood, making it to October 17 times in the previous 22 years there has been a post-season (there wasn’t one in 1994 due to the work stoppage).
The Jays’ drought is at 21 seasons and counting since Joe Carter went deep in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
“I wouldn’t say guys in here were upset, maybe disappointed,” said Adam Lind. “He’s using the one-year deal there as a stepping stone to a long-term contract.
“Over there he can face the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets.”
The Marlins and the Mets were a combined 52 games below sea level.
And in the American League East? Who is the least offensive lineup amongst the Baltimore Orioles, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays? Likely the Rays.
Edwin Encarnacion and Santana are good friends, staying at each other’s houses during a home-and-home Little League series in the Dominican, playing hoops and Mario Brothers against each other and being in the same Futures Game. The two spoke about the right-hander pitching in Toronto.
“I told him what a great city it was, what a good place to play,” Encarnacion said. “I told him how much players enjoy Toronto.”
“Business is business, whatever he decided, I was fine with, he has to do what he felt was best for him,” Encarnacion said. “I tried to help him out with whatever questions he had about the city or the team. He has to do what he wants to do.”
Don’t blame Encarnacion for going 0-for-1 on the recruiting trail.
He could have fibbed and told Santana that the Jays played in the NL -- as Toronto was originally supposed to be when Labatt Breweries attempted to buy the San Francisco Giants in 1976 -- but that wouldn’t have worked.
If you’re angry, be upset with Atlanta’s Kris Medlen, who left the mound Sunday shaking his elbow in pain wondering why it felt his elbow bone was no longer connected to his shoulder bone.
Infielder Maicer Izturis and Santana were teammates with the Los Angeles Angels from 2005 to 2012.
“I liked the way he pitched,” said Izturis, “he seldom missed a start. He always took the ball.”
Izturis said he hadn’t spoken to Santana since they were teammates with the Angels.
“We had five months to do it and didn’t do it,” Lind said. “And then, out of nowhere it was us on Saturday, he was coming here.”
Five months ago, Santana wanted a five-year $100 million deal.
There was a time this winter when Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he was waiting for the price to come down on free-agent starters.
We made fun of that, telling the story of my former boss whose father came home from World War II vowing never to buy a car until the prices went down.
Well, we were wrong.
Anthopoulos was right.
The price of the sleek Santana XL-4.19 came down.
It’s parked in a different garage.