No, Tomo Ohka reuniting with the Toronto Blue Jays isn’t a joke.
Though given the circumstances of what has a been a very quiet offseason, it might as well be. Yes, in the big picture of things, this was a totally inconsequential move; a team taking a flier on a player attempting a comeback with essentially nothing to lose. Even if the right-hander’s reinvention as a knuckleballer doesn’t quite pan out, it won’t change the Blue Jays’ fortunes.
In fact, the same could probably be said even if he does find moderate success in his quest.
Then again, considering that the team already has a pretty well-known knuckleballer by the name of R.A. Dickey, perhaps there’s some humor to be found in the coincidence here. You could probably even say that it’s the inconsequential nature of the move that will hit at the heart of Blue Jays Nation the most — the fact that amidst all of the wheeling and dealing, GM Alex Anthopoulos was only about to acquire a piece that will neither help nor hurt the team.
Meanwhile, essentially all of the Blue Jays’ AL East foes have upgraded in one way or another — at least on paper. And while many will be quick to point out that Toronto was too a preseason championship contender and that the games are not played on paper, it should also be noted that in many cases, on-paper improvements will in fact lead to a higher degree of success. You don’t have to look too far beyond the most recent World Series champs to see that.
So for a Blue Jays team that is neither in the Tampa Bay Rays‘ build-from-within mode or taking the New York Yankees‘ spend-what-is-necessary approach, bringing in Ohka is the worst reminder of the limbo that the team is stuck in.
On the other hand, you might also say it’s the most Blue Jays-like move to make. But where can they go from here? Anthopoulos’ story seems to have changed from the beginning of the offseason where he seemed fairly positive that the Blue Jays would be able to get in on the free agent market, to the point now where all that is being talked about are trades.
Whether it’s the botched three-way trade involving Sergio Santos or the rumors around Colby Rasmus, there’s a sense that the GM is forced into having to move helpful assets to get the pitching help he needs. Perhaps even more disappointingly might be the fact that he’s continuing to swing and miss even in that regard, as viable target after viable target continues to go elsewhere.
After the debacle of the 2013 season, is Rogers limiting what he is able to do regarding payroll? Is there s potential trust issue over Anthopoulos and his team’s ability to evaluate free agent talent? Would the owners be right in this case?
Right now, the team seems to be faced with more questions than answers. The GM will be able to answer some of those questions with with his next move, of course, but should the rest of the offseason keeps rolling along the same way that it was thus far, inconsequential moves like Ohka will add up to provide a pretty good answer to the big questions — one that doesn’t necessary bode well for the immediate future of this veteran-laden team that is semi-built to win now.