Apparently we’re moving from hot stove season to prematurely bullish prediction season in record time this year. Speaking to reporters at a charity event yesterday, YES broadcaster David Cone reacted to the big trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays by declaring the Blue Jays the division favorites already. “I would think they’d have to be the favorite, right now, in the American League East,” Cone said. It may seem a touch early to be crowning presumptive favorites, but then, if the 2012 Marlins taught us anything it’s that making a big splash to acquire Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle instantly makes you the best team in your division.
Alright, I’m mostly just kidding here, but I can’t help but chuckle that this trend is still with us. It seems that every year someone makes a big, unexpected move in the offseason, and everyone immediately proceeds to the knee jerk reaction of declaring them a massively improved team who have to be favored to win something. Sometimes (2009 Yankees, 2011 Brewers) it plays out that way while other times (2010 Mariners, 2011 Red Sox, 2012 Marlins and Angels) it decidedly does not, to varying degrees.
The fact is, a relatively small number of new players generally do not 20 more wins make, and there are a lot of baseline factors that don’t get taken into account in the exuberance. In the case of the Red Sox, for example, everyone seemed to forget that the production gains they’d get from Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford would be offset by the loss of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. With these Blue Jays, it seems that everyone is forgetting that they were a 90 loss team with a lot of issues, and that the players they’re acquiring formed the core of another 93 loss team in the National League. Don’t get me wrong, the Blue Jays are definitely better and have to be considered serious contenders for the playoffs, but they’ve got three 90 win teams and the Red Sox to overcome in the division, and while the trade makes their roster better, they’ve got a lot of other things that have to go right for them as well before they can start printing up ugly commemorative t-shirts.