The Toronto Blue Jays could learn some lessons from the 2017 postseason teams…or maybe, they have already.
The Toronto Blue Jays are watching the 2017 postseason on TV, instead of providing unforgettable moments like this one. Instead, like us, Toronto is left watching other teams attempt to top this moment. While that is likely an impossible feat, this postseason is certainly teaching us a lot about building a team. Look at the New York Yankees. They are being led by young talent like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge. They don’t have the youngest team this season, but their average age of 28.4 is much better than Toronto’s 29.7.
The Boston Red Sox entered the 2017 postseason with the youngest (27.9 years old) roster of the 10. Now, that is not to say that age has a direct impact on winning. A good team has to have the right mix of youth and experience. In an attempt to push their playoff dreams further, the Houston Astros were able to add some valuable experience in the form of Carlos Beltran, who helped push their average age up to 29.2, which isn’t that far off from Toronto.
But, the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox (among others) help show something that the Blue Jays can learn moving forward. Each of these teams has home grown youth. It isn’t that they traded for, or signed young stars – signing a free agent star at 23 is downright impossible. No, these teams drafted and developed major talent and are now reaping the fruits of their labours.
One could argue that the Red Sox threw their financial might around and signed veteran talent like David Price and dipped their toes in the trade market to land big fish like Chris Sale. It’s true. But where would the club be without talents like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley or Xander Bogaerts? Granted, it took years for them to develop into the talents they are, but think about how quickly Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers were able to be called upon to contribute.
For the Astros, it took a lot of years of losing to bring up guys like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman. One could argue that those lean years were worth it since they now have arguably the best team in the American League and very well could win a World Series in 2017. Whether you agree that it is worth it, or not, you can’t deny the payoff that is taking place.
The New York Yankees have moved away from their free spending ways and have turned their attention inward as they are putting more emphasis on their own talent. It has worked with Judge and Sanchez and has also put them in good shape to take on hefty contracts in the next couple of years to continue their competitive run.
So, how does this impact the Toronto Blue Jays?
If you look at the teams in the postseason, there is a theme of young, talented players the teams drafted, developed and brought up to make a lasting impact. The Blue Jays need to look at that plan and model it. Or, have they already begun?
Using Cleveland’s team as an example, we’re seeing the Francisco Lindor‘s and Jose Ramirez‘ lighting the world on fire. Heck, even Carlos Carrasco was identified early and brought in at a young age to become a stable force in the rotation. This type of focus on youth sure would be nice around these parts. Wouldn’t it be great if those responsible for constructing Cleveland’s team worked for the Blue Jays organization? Oh, wait…
When Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins took over the Blue Jays, the farm team was in rough shape thanks to Alex Anthopoulos’ all in approach at the trade deadline in 2015. Actually, we should also throw in AA’s offseason shopping spree in Miami as another cause of the farm system lacking in talent. But, since then, the new management has gone about trying to improve the team without taking away from the major talent that exists in the minors. Obviously, their approach is one that leads to slow, incremental change, as opposed to the quick roster overhauls of AA. But, it is more palatable when the big league roster is competitive. They’ve been able to ride out the last two seasons, which saw them reach the postseason in 2016 on the leftovers of the previous season.
What that leaves them with now is a big league team that remains very close to competing in 2018 and a farm system that has benefited from the infusion of good draft picks like Logan Warmoth and Ryan Noda. In the last two seasons, we have also watched previous talent (talent that mightn’t be still in the system under AA) inch closer to contributing to the big league club. The front office has refused to part ways with Anthony Alford, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Sean Reid-Foley, Rowdy Tellez, Conner Greene and others. As these players gain experience, they only become more valuable.
If we look forward, the current roster is going to look very different. Over the next two of three seasons, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and maybe even Josh Donaldson could depart, making room for young talent. This timeline would fit with when the youngsters very well could contribute.
None of this is to say that the Blue Jays will become the next Houston Astros, or replicate Cleveland’s success. However, if we can take anything away from this postseason, it is the importance of developing young talent. On the surface, it looks like Toronto could learn a lot about this from these teams. But, looking a bit deeper, it appears they may have it figured out. Time will tell.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.