By Bob Elliott
If you need a rental for two months ... you’re not going to line up at Rent-A-Wreck.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos went to Hertz.
Straight to the head of the Gold Plus Rewards line, because Hertz says it is No. 1, and asked for a Porsche 911 with all the options ... please
After improving at shortstop by adding Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, the Jays added lefty David Price from the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. The Jays offered the better package of prospects than either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees.
When Price walks through the doors and into the clubhouse he will be the best rent-a-pitcher since David Cone in August of 1992.
So, do we plan the usual parade route?
Not the one that the Jays used after their “all-in” season of 2013 when they added R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, etc.
Since then, the Jays have had five winning months out of 16 (a 17-9 June in 2013, a 21-9 May, 15-11 July and a 14-12 September last year and an 18-9 June this year) and when July ends Friday night they will have had another winning month.
Now 5-for-16 in the batter’s box ... good.
Months? Not good.
And one winning month out of four this year.
Yet Saturday begins the month of August with Tulowitzki at short and Price, the 2012 Cy Young award winner, in the rotation.
Despite battling to get to .500 the Jays still have a legit chance for a wild-card berth, a chance to break their post-season drought, the longest in baseball.
Don’t get your hopes up about Price, who the Jays will pay roughly $8 million US, to sign with the Jays for 2016. Just worry about the final 59 games. Why should a free agent talk with one club when theoretically he can talk to all 30 two weeks after the season?
The Jays gave up lefties Daniel Norris, 22 (five starts in the Jays rotation, 16 at triple-A Buffalo), Matt Boyd, 24 (two starts with the Jays, six at Buffalo and 12 at double-A New Hampshire) and Jairo Labourt, 21 (18 starts at class-A Dunedin and a Futures Game appearance at the all-star game in Cincinnati).
Should you worry about Norris, Boyd and Labourt becoming the next Noah Syndergaard, Anthony DeSclafani or Justin Nicolino? You can ... but when Cone made 11 starts helping the Jays win the 1992 World Series did you cringe every time Jeff Kent knocked in a run for the New York Mets or San Francisco Giants?
Norris is a bright prospect with a future (and a van, perhaps you heard) but the Jays did not deal him to the Atlanta Braves for Alex Wood and or to the Boston Red Sox for Wade Miley.
They dealt him for a 6-foot-6 stud and Norris was part of the price.
One scout for a team with rent-a-starter to peddle saw the lefty pitch for Buffalo this week when the Bisons were in Syracuse.
“I’ve seen him eight times, this was the worst I’d seen him, he’d get to two strikes and couldn’t put anyone away,” said the scout. “I know for a kid to have his name his name out there in trade talk it must be tough. I like Jeff Hoffman better.”
Norris struck out two, allowing five hits and walking four giving up five runs -- four earned -- in five innings.
Price, 29, takes Aaron Sanchez’ spot in the rotation. Since Sanchez was injured, Felix Dubront, Scott Copeland, and Boyd made 11 starts going 2-9 with a 7.55 ERA average less than four innings which taxes the bullpen.
Price is 7-0 in his career at Rogers Centre with a 3.86 ERA in nine starts, walking 14 and striking out 48 in 58 1/3 innings.
This week to obtain all-stars Tulowitzki and Price, 9-4, 2.53 ERA in 21 starts with the Tigers, the Jays unloaded their Nos. 1 prospect in Norris, No. 3 Hoffman, No. 4 Miguel Castro and No. 7 Boyd, according to the highly-respected Baseball America’s mid-season prospect report ... plus Jesus Tinoco and Labourt.
Credit should go to former scouting director Andrew Tinnish, current scouting director Brian Parker and the scouts for identifying and signing the arsenal of arms.
A year ago in Houston on Aug. 1, veterans Casey Janssen and Jose Bautista were upset -- and rightfully so -- when the Jays failed to add at the July 31 trade deadline. This despite Eddie Rogers and Paul Beeston told players at the annual, end-of-spring, kick-off-the-season diner at the Bon Appetit Restaurant in Dunedin that “funds would be there” if the Jays were in the hunt at the deadline.
The Jays left Fenway Park headed for Houston 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles, leading the wild-card race -- without Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind soon to return to the lineup.
This time, this year, Rogers Communications, part of the group paying a hockey coach roughly $50 Million CDN for eight years, spent $51.2 Million US for an five years service from an all-star shortstop’s and roughly $7.3 million on Price.
Bottom line, the Jays have their first ace since Roy Halladay.
The Jays are better today than they were a day ago.
That’s a GM’s job.
Even if he only has two months remaining on his contract.
This week has given the GM a chance of the final two months seem even longer.