Tag Archives: Alex Anthopoulos

Don’t do it

Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees! The New Yorks pitching staff is weak and their position players are getting old! The time for the Jays to strike is now!

NO.

Sensing weakness in one of the teams the Jays have to overcome to make the playoffs, I can understand how it would be tempting for some to think that this is an opportunity for Toronto to go for it. Tempting, yes. Practical? No.

Alex Anthopoulos has a plan in place. The Plan. It’s pretty simple, really: Stock up on young talent to create sustained success down the road. He’s off to a good start and, with like a trillion picks in the first few rounds of the next draft, the farm could be turning into one of those mega Monsanto monster things pretty soon. Except, you know, not evil.

The Plan is in place and it’s a good thing. It shouldn’t be deviated from just because the Yankees lack a bit of depth in their starting rotation. Especially when you think about the other teams the Jays have to overcome. The Rays are weakened, but will still be a strong team. The Red Sox added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the two best non-pitchers available this off-season.

In other words, if the Jays make a move to try and capitalize on how the Yankees are perceived to be slipping, there’s a decent chance they still end up missing the playoffs.

This is not the year. Let Snider develop. Let Arencibia learn how to catch in the bigs. Hope that Hill and Lind can find their swings again and that Lind can get his big-boy glove going at first base. Let Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Drabek and all the other pitchers develop some more.

Do all that for at least one year. If it works out, then I can get behind making some big signings and/or trades to go for a playoff spot.

And hey, if you wait a year, there might even be an extra playoff spot to help you get to the post-season.

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Carpe diem

There are a lot of rumours about the Blue Jays floating around. Among the players that the many rumours have coming to Toronto are Dan Uggla, Manny Ramirez and Zack Greinke.

Some are quick to point out that Alex Anthopoulos is incredibly thorough and has probably contacted everybody about everything because that’s what he does. Maybe that’s all it is. Maybe AA is sticking to the plan and exercising due diligence in the bargain hunting, looking for another deal like the one that made Yunel Escobar a Jay.

Maybe, but maybe there’s more to it than that.

If you’re a Toronto sports fan, there’s not much to be happy about right now. The Leafs stink. The Raptors stink. TFC couldn’t put together a team that could make the playoffs despite hosting the upcoming MLS Cup. The Argos, well, they’re doing OK, but this ain’t Saskatchewan so they don’t count.

If you’re a bigshot at Rogers, you’re probably pretty good at making money. You’re probably looking at the Blue Jays and the relatively disappointing attendance figures at the SkyDome. And you’re probably looking at the failings of the city’s other sporting franchises and seeing a pretty good opportunity to generate interest in the team that you own and MLSE doesn’t.

If you’re AA and you’ve got some suits telling you to make moves to get people interested in the team and hopefully sell more tickets (and drive TV ratings higher and sell more jerseys, etc…) you’re probably looking at your situation and seeing that you’re in a pretty good place. The squad you’ve got is pretty good already and there are good pieces available. A few of those pieces (Uggla and Greinke specifically) are available via trade, so you’re not losing draft picks. And speaking of draft picks, you’ve got a tonne of those likely headed your way because of the Type A and B free agents you’re about to let walk. Basically, you can upgrade your team without really hindering The Plan.

(As for Manny, do you really think the Pale Hose are going to offer him arbitration?)

If you’re me, you’re just wanting to get a post up on the blog and you’re stringing together this crap hoping it makes sense.

But, it’s true that there’s a gaping hole for Toronto’s sporting affection right now. The overachieving 2010 Jays seemed to have made some inroads toward filling the gap. An offseason addition of Uggla and/or Greinke and/or Manny seems like just the kind of thing that would put baseball over the top in this town again.

Are they good moves to make? In the long-term, it all depends what it’s going to cost you. Too many prospects and maybe not. But in the short-term, if you really just want to generate even more interest in the big league club while letting the scouts restock the minors, yeah, it’s the right thing to do.

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‘The main guy who needs to play’

Today is Monday. E5’s eligible to come off the disabled list. This means Jose Bautista and his bombs will move back from third base to right field. Cito being Cito, this also likely means that DeWayne Wise will be moving back to left field while Travis Snider gets some more time on the pine.

But that would be too simple. Too expected.

Cito likes to let guys who have proven themselves play everyday. This leads to the blogosphere and some members of the media questioning Cito at every turn and getting angrily frustrated when he does things like sit Snider and Aaron Cibia for extended periods.

Well, something’s happened. Maybe Alex Anthopoulos had a talk with The Manager. Maybe Snider showed some magical intangible in the clubhouse that’s won Cito over. Maybe Gaston just had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.

Whatever happened, it should make some people happy because when Gaston was questioned about what E5’s return would do to Toronto’s lineup, he said this: “We’ll find spots here and there for them. But the main guy who needs to play is Snider.”

Rejoice!

Sniderman’s played in each of the last 10 games and should (if Cito can be believed) see the bulk of the action for Toronto’s remaining 19 games. It’s hardly the majority of the season that he should have gotten, but it’s a start and that’s more than I expected Cito to give him.

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Eat them up yum

I’m back from eating cod tongues in the crisp ocean breeze and into the 40 C heat again. Too much to catch up on, so I’m going to go cheap and just do up a little list of things. Here we go:

• The trade deadline has come and gone and all the Jays who I was hoping would be traded have not been. However, Brett Wallace has been traded. Under almost any other circumstances, I’d be disappointed. But Alex Anthopoulos has earned my trust. If AA didn’t see an offer he liked, then he didn’t see one I liked either (unless there was any offer at all for Kevin Gregg.)

• But what’s this? Trades can still be made? Yes, we all know that, but John Lott’s got a nice little walkthrough on how trades can happen after the deadline. If you’re interested in procedural at all, you should give it a read.

• Habitat for Humanity is a great cause. I’m glad the Jays are supporting it. But when reading this, I got a good laugh out of the fact that there’s only one player given credit for doing any actual work. That player: Jesse Litsch.

• The Little League World Series is expanding replay to the point of giving managers the ability to challenge calls. Little league baseball: More advanced than Bud Selig.

• I am a big supporter of Lyle Overbay (to the point that I’m often called “Overbay” at work) but the Adam Lind-at-first-base era has begun, and I’m ready to embrace it. It’s been fun, Lyle-O, and I do still believe in you, but the Jays are undefeated with Lind at first and that can’t be denied.

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During which I put on my tinfoil hat

As I’m sure everybody and their dog already knows, Edwin Encarnacion has been designated for assignment and, assuming he clears waivers, will be the Las Vegas 51s third baseman for the foreseeable future. Coming up to Toronto is Jarrett Hoffpauir, a career minor leaguer who’s put up some ridiculous numbers in Sin City so far this year.

E5’s taken a lot of heat this year, and rightly so. His defence is only slightly north of atrocious and his effort appears to be so lacking that Jerry and Alan have taken to deriding him during the radio broadcasts. It only makes sense to send him down to make room for a guy (Hoffpauir) who’s having a great season in AAA.

BUT

E5 didn’t have to be sent down to open up a spot for Hoffpauir. Not if the Jays hadn’t brought in Nick Green, anyway.

Nick Green is a bad hitter and not much of a spectacular fielder either. He’s a utility guy who mainly plays 2B/SS/3B. Essentially he’s Johnny Mac, except that Johnny Mac is excellent in the field and is light years ahead of Green in terms of being a defensive replacement.

So if Green is worse defensively than the Prime Minister of Defence, why is he on the team?

Is it because Green is a better hitter off the bench than Encarnacion? Nope.

Cito says E5’s going to Vegas because he’s hurt. That could be, but isn’t that what the DL is for?

Anthopoulos may be screwing with Edwin so he can’t get a big arbitration deal, but that doesn’t seem like something a general manager who’s trying to create a good working atmosphere would do.

Here comes the tinfoil hat

This to me seems a move made by a general manager whose hands are tied by Cito. With The Manager’s insistence on only changing the lineup almost never, maybe AA felt that if Hoffpauir was simply called up (and Green never brought into the picture) that The Hoff would be nailed to the bench and not get a chance to show what he can do.

Cito is loyal to his guys after all. E5 is (was) in the lineup, so he must be one of Cito’s guys.

Remove Encarnacion from the picture and Cito’s forced to make a change at third.

It’s not the way a team should be run, but Cito shouldn’t be managing one to begin with.

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Venezuela’s vegetation god

The above is a clip of Adonis Cardona, a 17-year-old Venezuelan that the Blue Jays are reportedly close to signing.

Being a Venezuelan, Cardona is not draft-eligible so he’s basically going to end up with the highest-team (or the team that best convince him they can offer him more than money. Ha.)

Much like when word spread that the Torontos were pursuing Adeiny (El Perro) Hechavarria, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of info on the internets about this kid. Guess we gotta trust Anthopoulos and his army of scouts on this one, too. Something which I am more than comfortable to do. Long live The Plan!

Here’s the one other thing I could find (after an admittedly short search) on Cardona. It’s even shorter than the video posted above!

Quicker than something that’s quick

  • Johnny Mac: Prime Minister of Emergency Backup Catchers
  • Appealing to my inner punk, GROF puts Doc’s return in perspective
  • In case you were wondering, this really does work

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Attendance worries? Don’t panic

The above timelapse video (via Torontoist) was created last Wednesday as the Jays hosted the Chicago White Sox. A near-record low crowd of 10,744 people took in Toronto’s humiliating 11-1 loss.

If you find yourself watching the video and being so consumed with the novelty that is motion that you miss how depressing it is, watch this video of Minnesota’s home opener and compare the scene in the two videos.

Not pretty, eh? You better get to used to it, because the record low number seems to getting lower all the time. Toronto’s fans set a new low again last night as 10,314 showed to watch the Jays trounce the Royals.

But if you’re worried that the team is going to go the way of the Expos, stop. It’s not happening. Jeff Blair and Rob Neyer have already outlined why they think there’s nothing to worry about. Since Blair buried his points on this topic, I’ll quote him here:

take it from somebody who chronicled the Expos demise, there are several significant differences:The Blue Jays are locally owned by deep-pocketed owners; the Expos were owned by New Yorker Jeffrey Loria, who took advantage of weak local minority owners;

Rogers owns the Rogers Centre and the revenue streams that come with it;

Rogers needs content for its sports channel;

Montreal’s business community never supported the team by buying tickets – even when it was winning;

commissioner Bud Selig has no place to put the Blue Jays, as was the case with the Expos and Washington, D.C. Getting a team back in D.C. was a legacy issue for Selig, and unless they get a new ballpark Tampa Bay is the next team to move.

Blair’s points are too strong to ignore. The Blue Jays, despite the cries of all the Chicken Little wannabes out there, are not the Expos.

I do have one point to add to Blair’s list. It may seem counter-intuitive, but working in the Jays’ favour is the fact that Toronto is not a baseball town. Let me give that its own line:

Toronto is not a baseball town.

When it comes to sports, this city is two things: 1) A Maple Leafs (not hockey) town; and 2) A town full of bandwagon jumpers.

I firmly believe the attendance is so low at the SkyDome so far this year because the team didn’t build up any false hopes in the fan base. The fair-weather fans won’t be coming out to see a losing team, mainly because Toronto is not a baseball town. But it doesn’t matter. Alex Anthopoulos has a plan in place to build the team into a winner. When the team starts winning, all the bandwagon jumpers will be looking for a seat and nobody will have any worries about the team leaving town. It won’t be leaving in the meantime either because it’s too valuable to Rogers right where it is.

Want an idea of what the future could be like? Go watch the video of the Twins’ home opener again. As you’re watching it, remember how MLB tried to make that city join Montreal on its way out of the league. The Jays aren’t the Expos, but they will end up being the Twins (minus the new park, of course).

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The future is bright

Where the Hech is our Cuban? He’s in Cancun, but not for long.

While the Blue Jays are refusing to confirm or deny anything, Morgan Campbell is reporting that Adeiny Hechavarria has finally received a U.S. visa and will report to Dunedin by week’s end. Campbell also clears up a little confusion about what El Perro‘s name actually is:

Along with confirming Hechavarria’s visa status, Hernandez [Hechavarria’s agent] also confirmed the spelling (commonly misspelled as “Adeinis” or “Adeinys”) and the pronunciation (ah-THEY-nee eh-CHA-ba-ree-ah) of his client’s name.

The highly-touted prospect is reportedly inked to a four-year deal. Everyone seems to think he’ll start at Double-A — after getting caught up in Dunedin, anyway — and that he can be ready for Major League ball in a year or two.

It may be wishful thinking, but if this guy pans out to be even an above-replacement shortstop, I’ll be happy. The team’s doing all the right things — bringing in Cuban prospects, locking up Lind long-term to a very team-friendly deal, putting a major emphasis on scouting and committing to do what it takes to put together a World Series-winning team.

It may not be a good time to be a Jays fan — Brian Tallet is starting tonight — but it’s a great time to be a Jays fan.

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Scapegoating the wrist

Hola amigos. It’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I’ve been kinda overdosing on the Olympics lately. As great as those two weeks were, it’s over now and baseball and warm weather are here to save the day.

I’d been making a small effort to stay on top of any big news from the Jays’ camp, but I obviously missed some things. Some things like this interview that Alex Anthopoulos gave to the Fan 590 last Friday. Speaking about Vernon Wells and his new role as “team leader,” Anthopoulos said the following:

I talked to him about it (VW’s wrist) and he said it’s fine, he feels great. I said how does it compare to last spring and he said ‘oh you know, it’s night and day.’ You know, last spring, it was bothering him and our trainers had to inject him to take the pain away and he had to take anti-inflammatories the entire year and, uh, obviously once he was done playing and he was off the anti-inflammatories, the pain started to come back. Again, he won’t complain about it and he certainly won’t point to it as a reason for him not having as strong as a year as he would have hoped for, but I certainly believe that it certainly did impact the year that he did have and he certainly feels good about it. I expect Vernon to bounce back and have a strong year for us.

I like Anthopoulos, I really do, but I have a problem with what he said there.

THE WRIST WAS NOT VERNON’S PROBLEM LAST YEAR.

Seriously, I thought that had been covered enough and accepted as fact. Why is it still being trotted out as an excuse for his poor performance last year, and trotted out by the general manager no less!

Now I’m not going to accuse VW or the team of lying about a wrist injury — you’d have to be insane to undergo unnecessary wrist surgery — surely there was something wrong there. But, if there’s anyone reading this who believes that the wrist was the cause of the poor stats, could you please explain to me why it only really seemed to bother him in the Dome?

Just take a look at VW’s home and away splits last season. He was, offensively, well above league average on the road.

Did his wrist magically stop bothering him when he left Canada? Is there something about the Dome, perhaps lighting or some sort of colour scheme in the stadium, that makes it hard for him to pick up pitches there? Was he actually affected by all the negativity flowing his way from the team’s “fans”?

Unless Wells himself comes out and explains it, I guess we’ll never know the reason. But we can say this: His poor performances at the Dome were not because of his wrist injury.

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Putting the scouts to the test

Whatever you think of Rod Barajas stats-wise, you can’t argue that he seems like a good guy (unless you actually know him, I guess. I do not know him.) That’s why I’m happy to see that he’s finally caught on with another big league team. Like most who struggled a bit in the American League, I think he’ll do pretty well in the National.

For Jays fans, a happy consequence of the Barajas signing is that Toronto will get yet another pick in the 2010. In fact, the Jays are set to get a quite a few picks early on in said draft. According to the YES Network’s official blog, Toronto gets 10 of the first 126 picks. Those are picks are as follows:

11. Blue Jays

34. Blue Jays (for Type-A Marco Scutaro)

38. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 sandwich rounder James Paxton)

41. Blue Jays (for Type-B Rod Barajas)

61. Blue Jays

69. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 second rounder Jake Eliopoulos)

80. Blue Jays (from Red Sox for Type-A Marco Scutaro)

93. Blue Jays

113. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 third rounder Jake Barrett)

126. Blue Jays

I know we’re looking at a few years down the road before the success of this draft can even begin to be determined, but Anthopoulos’ scouts have their work cut out for them right off the bat.

Pepper (Does that work here?)

In a move that should surprise no one, J.P. Ricciardi is joining ESPN.

In news that may surprise some, no Toronto prospects — not even the ones the team got in return for Doc — managed to crack Baseball America’s Top 20.

On the team’s depth chart, Bluejays.com has already anointed Kevin Gregg as the team’s closer.

Oh my gawd! That’s Brad Wilkerson’s music! Thankfully, it’s coming from Philadelphia, not Toronto.

Some joker at NESN implies that losing “valuable clubhouse influence” Kevin Millar somehow hurts the Jays this year.

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