Tag Archives: Alex Anthopoulos

Jose Reyes injury. The worst.

I did not watch tonight’s game. Of course, the Jays won.

Of course, this also happened:

(GIF via Paul Sporer)

As of this writing, nobody knows exactly how long Reyes will be out, but here’s what we do know, via the numerous beat reporters (let’s give credit today to non-Rogers man Scott MacArthur) and just some plain basic facts:

  • Reyes heard something “pop”
  • Best case scenario, Reyes is out for a month. Worst case, three months.
  • General manager Alex Anthopoulos has already been talking with other GMs about trading for some infield help
  • Reyes is the best. Him getting hurt is the worst.
  • Mike McCoy is likely to get called up and see too much playing time.
  • Brett Lawrie can’t come back fast enough.
  • Reyes, usually an outstanding baserunner, slid late because he thought the pitch had been fouled off

I know I haven’t been active on the blog or on Twitter much lately, but I’m all too aware of the panic a lot of fans have been feeling because of the team’s slow start. I’ve been doing my best to talk sense into as many people as possible. “The Giants started 2-8 last year and won the World Series,” I say.

But right now, I feel the panic. It’s ridiculous, especially since there’s no real word on what’s wrong with Reyes, but this could hurt. Losing Reyes for three months could be a lot worse than a slow start. And seeing him cry? That’s worst of all.

Here’s hoping it’s not that bad.

And a quick update because the man himself tweets

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No such thing as too many options

The news broke late last night: The Toronto Blue Jays have optioned Travis Snider to Triple A Las Vegas. My initial reaction was one of frustration. Snider has the highest upside! Snider’s been jerked around so much, he deserves a real shot! If Snider was on any other team, Alex Anthopoulos would trade three relievers and a bag of popcorn for him and then let him play every day! TRAVIS SNIDER HAS LIGHT-TOWER POWER, DAMN IT.

I’m sure most of you have seen it already, but if not, check the 40-second mark in the above video. That was 2008. Snider was 20. He’s still only 24 (math!) and anybody ready to write him off is, well… foolish is probably the nicest word to describe those people.

So yes, I’m frustrated that Snider’s not going to get his much-deserved shot at the start of this season, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

Eric Thames is not a bad player. Not even close. If you can against root against Eric Thames, I don’t know that we can be friends. He works hard, he plays hard, he always looks like he’s having fun AND he can hit. He’s not Snider, but he doesn’t have to be.

Thames put a .262/.313/.456 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) slash line last year and he did that over nearly 400 at-bats. He could learn to take a few more walks, but the power certainly seems real. If he can improve at getting on without sacrificing the power, he could be something special — or at least above average.

But where does that leave Snider? If he goes down to Vegas and mashes the minor-league pitching as he usually does, he’ll certainly be deserving of another shot in the bigs, but what position will he play?

I have a lot of hope for the 2012 Blue Jays, but there are a lot of question marks surrounding them. Particularly at first base. If Adam Lind and/or Edwin Encarnacion struggle at the plate again, the team can’t afford to give them endless opportunities.

It pains me to say it, but Lind’s been one of the worst hitters in MLB over the past two seasons. Sure, maybe he can regain something of his 2009 form but, without some form of improvement, he no longer deserves an everyday spot in the lineup.

Encarnacion, when he’s on his game, he’s one of the best hitters going. But when he’s off? It’s ugly. Maybe the DH/1B role will lift the weight of 3B and the E5 moniker and allow him to focus on hitting well. Or maybe he’s just another streaky player who’s a better fit for a bench role.

Both Lind and Encarnacion are going to get a shot to prove themselves worthy, but if either struggles and the team does something about it (as it should) that will open up the DH spot. Snider’s a better fielder than Thames, so it’d be a natural fit for Thames to DH while Snider patrols left.

And if everyone comes out swinging and no spots open up for Snider? That’s not a bad problem to have, especially for a GM who seems interested in adding pitching.

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Employee relations

Choose your own adventure: You own a business in a competitive field. You want to, one day, be the absolute best in your field, but you know you’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. You’re striving to create a great working environment so that the top minds in your chosen industry will be attracted to your organization — not only by the potential your company shows, but also because they know they’ll be treated better working for you than if they worked for anybody else.

Now let’s say you’ve managed to hire someone from a rival. This someone is a little lacking in experience at the position you hire him for, but there’s a consensus in the industry that he’s going to be great once he gets some practice.

A year passes. The guy you’ve hired has made some questionable moves, but damn it, he’s showing the potential everybody knows he has.

Meanwhile, the rival from which you hired the employee suddenly has an opening and they want your man. They’ve got a chance to conquer the industry as early as next year and they want him to help lead them to the top.

If he wants to leave, do you stop him?

Keep in mind that if he wants to go, and you don’t let him, the atmosphere in your workplace is going to take a dive. The guy doesn’t want to be there — and everybody knows it.

What do you do?

***********************************

Is John Farrell going to leave the Blue Jays to manage the Red Sox? Only John Farrell knows.

If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, and if Farrell wants to go, I absolutely let him. Why poison the clubhouse like that? Why risk a big, big dent in the reputation of being a great place to work?

It’d definitely be tempting to prevent Boston from poaching the manager, if the Red Sox do indeed want to do that, but that’s an urge that’s got to be resisted.

Maybe offering Farrell some more money would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Maybe improving the team would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Those moves would be fine. Simply saying “you can’t go because I say so”? That’s not good enough. Not if you’re trying to build something real.

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Why Blue Jays fans should be cheering for the Cardinals

It would be very easy right now to label the St. Louis Cardinals a “team of destiny.” They snuck into the postseason on the last possible day and only because the Atlanta Braves completed a collapse that was nearly as legendary as that of the Boston Red Sox. Since then they’ve knocked off the Philadelphia HalladayLeeHamelsOswalts and the Milwaukee Prince Fielders.

Now all that stands in the Cardinals’ way is the Texas Rangers, a team which has no trouble defeating destiny. In the ALDS, they dispatched the Tampa Bay Rays rather handily. Not enough proof? Why, just last year, they won the World Series when they beat a team that made it that far despite not knowing how to score runs! (What? They didn’t beat the Giants? Oh…)

Anyway, look. The Rangers are pretty huge favourites to win the whole thing this year. I believe the odds are such that if you bet on the Rangers in Vegas, you’ve got to put down about $1.50 to win a dollar.

But you, dear Jays fan, should be cheering for the Cardinals to overcome the odds again. Not only because it’s more fun to cheer for an underdog, but because the better the Cardinals do, the better off our real favourite team is.

Tony La Russa is a Questionable Man who thinks Questionable Things

You know how so many Blue Jays fans go around calling Alex Anthopoulos a “silent assassin”? Maybe a ninja? I don’t like it, but the sentiment is justified. Anthopoulos earns the title because he does things like trade (essentially) Marc Rzepcynski, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson for Colby Rasmus.

(I know the deal was more complicated than that, but come on.)

Judging by the reactions of most Jays fans, Anthopoulos had reached the Billy-Beane-in-Moneyball level of trading. That is to say that other GMs should be afraid when Anthopoulos gives them a call. That reaction is and was justified. And it’s exactly why we should all be cheering for the Cardinals right now.

For all the fleecing of St. Louis that took place back in July, the Cardinals still made it to the World Series. On top of that, Tony La Russa is saying that his team getting ripped off in the deal is the REASON the Cardinals are in the World Series. Seriously. I’m not making this up.

“I’ll tell you if that trade had not been made, I believe we probably would have been an under .500 club. That’s how important it was to us.” —Tony La Russa, genius

The more the Cards win, and the more the more their people make Toronto’s front office sound stupid for trading with them, the better is for Toronto.

If you’re a competing GM and Anthopoulos gives you a call, would you rather be afraid that he’s going to rip you off or would you like to think that “hey, maybe he’ll help me win the World Series, too!”

If the Cardinals win, it will make Anthopoulos look, in the eyes of many people, a little bit dumb. We know that’s not true in the least, but it’s a damn good thing for other teams to think.

So, Go Cards. Win it for the good people of Toronto.

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Backup of the future

Watching last night’s Jays game, I was a little surprised to see both Jose Molina and J.P. Arencibia in the starting lineup. “What happens if Molina goes down?” I thought to myself. “Is John Farrell really OK with giving up the DH spot that easily?”

“Wait… isn’t Brian Jeroloman on the bench? He can’t be, can he? I mean, he’d have to have played by now, and I’m sure I’d have heard about that.”

The head cold I’ve been dealing with was enough to keep me on the couch and keep me from looking it up, but waiting over night saved me from doing any research. John Lott answered my questions for me.

Yes, Brian Jeroloman was on the bench. He has been since Aug. 23. And no, he hasn’t seen any game action yet.

Normally, when a young player gets a call to the majors and spends a lot of time on the bench, there’s a call for him to get some playing time to “see what we’ve got in him.” Jeroloman is different though.

Alex Anthopoulos said at the time of his call-up that Jeroloman wouldn’t play. Farrell has said that Molina and Arencibia have earned the little playing time that remains. The coach and GM have stuck to their word — so much so that it’s sometimes hard to remember that Jeroloman is in fact in the major leagues right now.

So, if he’s not playing, why are the Jays paying Jeroloman a major-league salary to sit on the bench? The guy is almost definitely not Toronto’s catcher of the future, after all.

But that may be the exact reason he’s with the big club right now.

With Arencibia holding his own to the point that there’s some minor rookie-of-the-year movement behind him and with the steam train that is Travis D’arnaud making his way through Toronto’s farm system, it would seem that the best possible outcome for Jeroloman — in a Jays uniform, anyway — is the role of backup catcher.

What better way to prepare for that role than riding the pine? Well, playing would obviously be better. But if the options are going home or travelling with and learning the art of calling a game from Molina, a guy who’s pretty good at catching, then travelling, learning and enjoy the post-game spread is probably the way to go.

And with Molina’s expiring contract and Type-B status, there’s a chance Jeroloman may even be the backup catcher as soon as next season.

So, as the Jays get ready for their final game of the season this afternoon, it’d be nice if Jeroloman got a little playing time to, you know, see what we’ve got in him.

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Johnny Mac gets a shot at the playoffs

I never thought anything could make me root for an NL West team other than the Giants, but now I know I was wrong.

John McDonald can do that to a guy.

McDonald and Aaron Hill were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are one game up on the Giants at the time of writing) this afternoon for second baseman Kelly Johnson.

The press conference is going on right now and, from the sounds of it, McDonald and Hill both want to come back to Toronto. McDonald even said he’s already talked to Alex Anthopoulos about that possibility (he’s a free agent after this season).

McDonald’s defence and work ethic are enough to win over fans and coaches anywhere.

Hill’s been great in the past, but has struggled both this season and last. He seems like a perfect “just needs a change of scenery” candidate and there’s a real possibility a move to the NL and it’s AAAA competition could be just the change he needs.

As for who the Jays are getting… Anthopoulos has been after Johnson for a while now. After the 2009 season, the Jays were rumoured to be trying hard to sign Johnson to play leftfield, but Johnson chose the D’backs because he wanted to stay at second. I think it’s safe to say he’ll be taking Hill’s spot in the infield when he arrives in Toronto.

Hill and Johnson are both 29. Hill’s got parts of seven seasons under his belt, has a career slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging) of .265/.318/.413 and has been worth 15.9 wins above replacement, while Johnson’s posted a .260/.342/.442 and 14.2 WAR during his time in the big leagues.

Statistically, it seems like the Jays won this trade by a slim margin. So, while I’m sad to see Johnny Mac leave, this does appear to be a good move for the Jays overall.

 

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Colby Rasmus

The above tweet? Truth.

There’s a lot of talk about how Alex Anthopoulos is a ninja. I don’t like it. Why apply an overused term to a man of his genius, especially when there’s a much easier explanation for how he does what he does?

Watch Betty the crow:

Betty accomplishes her goal by using a spare part and fashioning it into a useful tool to get what she really wants: The food in the damn tube.

Anthopoulos accomplishes his goal by using spare parts and fashioning them into a useful tool (trade bait) to get what he really wants: Colby Rasmus from the damn Cardinals.

Betty is a crow. Crows are corvids. Blue jays are corvids.

Alex Anthopoulos is not a ninja.

Alex Anthopoulos is a Blue Jay.

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.500 at the quarter

Here we are, 40 games done, a full quarter (or close enough, anyway) of the way through the season. While there are a few things that deserve to be talked about if we’re going to look at how the team’s performed so far, one thing, er… person, stands above all.

Holy hell, Jose Bautista is a goddamn monster. For real! The season he’s been putting together is without a doubt THE story of the year so far. It was going to be even if he hadn’t gone out today and hit 3 home runs against the Minnesota Twins.

You’ll probably see and/or hear a lot of people saying that Joey Bats is on pace right now to hit 65 home runs this year. What you won’t (or I haven’t anyway) hear is that he’s also on pace to play only 130 games.

You’re reading that right: Bautista is averaging a home run every two games. That’s unreal. I laughed when, during Saturday’s broadcast, the Sportsnet crew showed a graphic comparing what Bautista’s done this season to the best 3 full seasons Babe Ruth put together during his career. Really, at this point, it is still laughable but today I do feel differently. After watching what he did today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bautista top 60 home runs this year.

Record

I probably should’ve mentioned this up top, but the Jays currently sit at 20-20, good for third place in the AL East at the time of this writing. The actual win-loss record doesn’t seem all that surprising to me, until injuries are taken into consideration, but more on that later.

Management

Some days, John Farrell looks like a fool out there. He really, really does. But not everything he catches crap for is something he deserves to catch crap for. Letting Rajai Davis run? Good management. Letting Corey Patterson run? Questionable. Pulling pitchers when they’re one out from a complete game shutout? Not so bad. Using Octavio Dotel against left-handed batters on a regular basis? HORRIBLE — and getting worse.

But the thing Farrell seems to get the most heat for is his lineup construction. Yes, the lineups sometimes look like a dog’s lunch, but what do you expect him to do? The injuries this team have suffered have been so ridiculous that they recently played a game with only ONE guy on the bench.

As for the other management figure worth noting, I’m still a big supporter of Alex Anthopoulos. And his decision to lock up Joey Bats is really making him look like a genius. But I don’t care how much he might say about Travis Snider and his swing issues — I still don’t understand the speed with which the Lunchbox Hero was demoted.

Speed

The Jays are fast. Like second-in-the-AL-in-stolen-bases fast. Sure only two teams have been caught stealing more than Toronto and I understand it can be frustrating to watch the team “run into outs,” but I enjoy the running game. Speed kills!

Injuries

So here’s the thing — the Jays are 20-20 despite having seen the following players spend time on the DL miss time for various reasons: Octavio Dotel; Frank Francisco; Brandon Morrow; Corey Patterson; Rajai Davis (twice); Jose Bautista (twice); Yunel Escobar (twice); Aaron Hill; Edwin Encarnacion; and Jayson Nix. (ed: How did I forget to include Adam Lind? That’s a hashtag fail.)

That’s 10 guys. Add that to Jesse Carlson hanging out on the 60-day DL for the whole season so far and Travis Snider raking in the Pacific Coast League for some reason and you’ve got to pretty impressed with the Jays and their .500 record. Get everybody healthy and getting Snider going to the potential we all know he has and there’s no telling what this team can do

Conclusion

This team’s still pretty unlikely to make the playoffs. They’re better, so far, than most expected, but they still play in the AL East. They do though have Joey Bats and he’s got pretty broad shoulders…

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JoBau breaks my brain

Word on the street is that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are close to a deal — a 5-year, $65-million deal. The word in my head is that this is a bad idea.

I’d been waiting all offseason for this signing to happen. Planned to lead the post with a song. The Pixies. Bone Machine.

“You’re so pretty when you’re faithful to me.”

Would’ve been great, in my head anyway. But, as I’ve already said, this deal, it doesn’t please my head so much.

Why? Because Bautista really just doesn’t have a very good track record. Yeah, his 2010 was off the charts, but everything else he’s done has been, well, less than impressive.

(If you want numbers on this, there are plenty of blogs that will give you that. Might I suggest Getting Blanked or Ghostrunner on First — assuming Drew tackles this subject — as a good starting point?)

So, assuming the report is correct, why would the Jays sign a deal like this one? I’ve got two theories. Maybe one’s correct, maybe there’s a third option that escapes me:

1. Blue Jays brass truly believes Bautista’s the real deal. Locking him up now may be more expensive in the short-term than going to arbitration and letting him mash his way through 2011, pushing his value even higher and potentially losing him to an outrageous bid from the Red Sox or Yankees.

2. Just as the Vernon Wells deal before it, the word came from on high: “I don’t care what you want to do, you’re going to sign this player.” From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. Alex Anthopoulos has already built up a huge amount of credit with the “knowledgable” fans, but there are a lot of Maple Leafs fans in this city who aren’t happy with prospects and building the right way. Remember when VW was traded and the immediate calls to spend that $25 million elsewhere? This deal should go a long way toward keeping those people happy and, if you’re worried about ticket sales, that’s something you might want to take into consideration.

If the team made its move based on Theory 1 as listed above, and the gamble pays off, this is a great move. But I don’t see it working out quite that way.

That’s not to say I see Bautista completely falling off a cliff. No, I see him regressing to be a good, but not great, player. The kind of player you can likely get for less than $13 million per.

But you know what? Even if this deal is real and even if Bautista completely falls off a cliff, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It does give younger players something to look forward to (play well and be rewarded for it) and it should go a long way toward building up the reputation the team’s working toward (we take care of our own and we’re a great place to be).

So maybe it’s not the best thing, and I definitely don’t like it right now, but it’s not a horrible, stupid thing either.

And who knows, the reports of this deal may be false anyway.

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I believe in bravado

The Blue Jays’ state of the franchise meeting was held last week. I was not in attendance and this post is not timely, but here it is anyway — and I’ll keep it short. Two things short, even.

Thing the first

According to Gregor Chisholm of bluejays.com (and everybody else who was in attendance and wrote anything about the meeting), Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said some pretty good things, not the least of which was the following:

“We want to get [to the playoffs] as fast as we can. What we won’t do is shortcut it. When we do get there, it’s not going to stop. It’s going to be a freight train that’s going to keep going.”

This is definitely in line with how he’s expressed his vision for the team before, but it’s a more forceful, focused approach than I’m used to hearing from the general manager. Is he getting more comfortable in his role and more willing to voice his true feelings? Maybe he just felt emboldened by sitting in front of a few hundred true believers? Either way, hearing AA spout the tough talk like that — and I know it doesn’t mean anything if the team doesn’t deliver the results when the time comes — makes me happier with this team’s direction than anything else the team has done since ditching J.P. Ricciardi.

Baseball can be analyzed in many, many ways, but when it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is winning. Winning is great, but winning with swagger is the funnest way to do it. AA seems to be getting himself some swagger. I like it.

Thing the second

This is minor, but it should give the phone-in-show Leafs fans one less thing to whine about during the summer months and will help keep the media somewhat at bay if the team doesn’t perform as well as they think it should. It’s a throwaway part of a throwaway sentence located in a throwaway graph at the end of Chisholm’s above-linked story, but it’s important nonetheless:

For Farrell, it was his first opportunity to take part in the State of the Franchise event. The first-year manager, who said he was in the final stages of purchasing a condominium in downtown Toronto, came away impressed.

John Farrell is buying a condo in Toronto. Maybe he’s not moving his family here (or maybe he is, who knows) but he’s buying property in Toronto, dammit. He likes us! And that’s all that really matter, right?

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