Tag Archives: Alex Anthopoulos

Nothing groundbreaking

Given that I like to hang out in my mom’s basement pounding away on a keyboard and given the fact that I sometimes use said keyboard to pound out statistics instead of words like “grit,” it may come as a surprise that I’m just now reading Billy Beane’s book about just how great computers really are. Yes, I’m reading Moneyball. No, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me, either.

I don’t want to play the part of the guy who walks into a 4-hour meeting 3.5 hours late and wants to rehash everything he’s missed, so I’ll spare you from a review of the book. If that’s what you want, Google’s your friend, not me. All I’m going to say is that the book did two things for me: It solidified a bunch of foggy thoughts floating around in my head and it gave me an even better appreciation of the importance of stats.

Now, as someone who’s newly enamoured with the idea of moneyball, you might think that I would disapprove of Anthopoulos’s scouting-heavy plan to rebuild the Jays. It would be easy to say, “scouts can’t be trusted. Just look at the numbers, AA! Oh and by the way, Wells IS an awful centrefielder, no matter what your eyes tell you.” Yes, that would be easy. And even though I may have said those things in the past, I’m not going to right now. What I’m going to say is this: As a new moneyball convert, I’m excited about the plan to rebuild the Jays through superior scouting.

I know scouting may not count as a market inefficiency, but can a team like the Jays really get ahead by exploiting market inefficiencies right now? With Billy Beane still running the A’s, and the New Yorks and Bostons of the world using moneyball ideals backed up with, you know, a lot of money, I’d say that no, the Jays can’t compete in that arena.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t inefficiencies left to be found, and maybe the Jays will find some, but the easier approach is to do what you know and to do it well.

Now, I’m not going to go digging up links to back this up (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but AA seems to be using his history in the Expos organization to the extreme and bringing in as many staffers and scouts as he can from that defunct team.

What were the Expos good at? Drafting and developing some pretty awesome baseball players.

What were the Expos bad at? Being able to keep those players around because the team was being run into the ground financially.

If AA can create and nurture the scouting and development in Toronto that the Expos had in Montreal, the Jays will be in a position to be a dominant (or least competitive) team for a long, long time. Because, despite what many seem to think, Toronto is a big-market team and the money’s there to keep the talent around.

It’s not Billy Beane’s moneyball, but it’ll have to do.

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Aroldis Chapman update: It’s not over!

Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I ain’t really been in any kind of shape to do up a decent post for a couple weeks now. Turning off your brain and turning on your drink to unacceptable levels may not sound good normally, but over the holidays it’s a wonderful thing.

But the holidays are over, and now I’m back. And I see the Jays have some good things in store.

On New Year’s Day, The Star ran an interview Cathal Kelly did with a psychic. Kelly was looking for predictions for the upcoming year in sports and, being the good man that he seems to be, asked said psychic about the Blue Jays. Surprisingly, the lady psychic (who had the balls to say the men’s hockey team will not win gold in Vancouver) was not negative about the Jays, saying:

“Whether or not they accomplish anything, there will be renewed interest. It’s going to be a feel-good story … and people are going to be pretty forgiving.”

Now, I have no faith whatsoever in any of the hocus pocus peddled by psychics, but I can’t help but get a little excited by what this one said about the Jays. I know it’s because it’s what I want to believe, but I don’t care. This team has the potential to be an exciting one to watch.

Hill! Lind! Snider! Ruiz! Wells! (Yes, Wells.) Chapman!

Yes, Aroldis Chapman! Or, more accurately, maybe Chapman. But, even with it only being a maybe, this is a pretty exciting development for me. If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I’ve been pretty fascinated with this Chapman character. And I’m glad to see that after initially squashing ideas of being involved with the flame-throwing lefty, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos had his people arrange a private workout with the Cuban defector.

Of course, the chances that the Jays sign this guy are pretty slim, but it is encouraging to know that the team is not scared off by the player’s price tag, which is expected to be in  the $20-25 million range. That’s a lot of money, but if it’s going toward talent like this — talent that could be dominant in 2-3 years — then it’s a good investment and it’s a good sign that this building process is not meant to be a long, drawn out one.

Whether he signs Chapman or not, just showing an interest in Chapman is a pretty great Christmas present from the Jays to their fans.

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I’m excited about Canada’s team

Who says the Jays aren't Canada's team?

I never thought trading Roy Halladay would end like this, but I’m pretty damn excited about what’s going on with the Blue Jays right now.

I’m excited because Shaun Marcum will be pitching again next year.

I’m excited because I believe the Jays will be a much more entertaining team much sooner than people expect them to be.

I’m excited because the Jays are getting three very good prospects in return for the Good Doctor.

I’m excited because, at the press conference confirming The Trade, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said this: “We’re on our road to getting back to where we were back in the World Series years. Really, this is the start of it, folks.” And, crazy as it sounds, I believe him.

I’m excited because at that same press conference, Anthopoulos took the time to answer questions in French. Since I can’t figure out how to link directly to the Radio Canada report (three minutes long!) you’ll either have to take my word or search for it yourself.

I know what happened with the Expos, but you can’t tell me that there aren’t baseball fans in Quebec. There is a market there to be tapped and if the Jays really want to call themselves Canada’s team, it’s a market that must be tapped. A GM from Montreal who speaks French at the press conferences is a damn good start.

What else can be done? How about getting some games on RDS or Radio Canada (presuming they’re not already) and bringing in someone like Jacques Doucet to call them? How about playing a weekend series at Olympic Stadium? I for one would love an excuse to make an annual trip to Montreal.

The Jays are already Canada’s team, but only by virtue of being the country’s only team. And yes, people outside of Toronto do care. Check out thanksroy.com if you need proof.

Lastly, I’m excited because even if the Jays do stink it up for a year or two, Doc’s finally got a chance to win. Go Phillies.

I believe in Vernon Wells

Sports and the City is running a little poll. The site’s banner prominently features Doc and the poll is to determine who, if anyone, should replace him up there. Whether you’re like me and you believe Vernon Wells will turn it around and be a productive member of the team again or you’re a realist and you just know that VW is going to be a Blue Jay for the rest of his career, it’s pretty clear that he should be the winner. So go vote for him already!

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Finally, some Jays news from Indy

Until this morning, the most interesting bit of Blue Jays news coming out of MLB’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis was that GM Alex Anthopoulos was being a hardass regarding the Roy Halladay trade talks. Refusing to reveal his location, making other GMs come to him, being afraid of what germs can do? All AA needs to do now is grow a beard and we’ll have our very own Howard Hughes running the team.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. There is news! Apparently the Jays have either signed or not signed Joey Gathright. I find this news exciting because it gives me an excuse to post this video:

So basically Gathright is Evil Knievel without the bike or jumpsuit. (Too bad about the jumpsuit.)

He’s also a very fast man who is pretty solid in centrefield. I’m no expert on UZR, but it seems to me that Gathright’s career UZR of 17.4 in CF is just a little bit better than Vernon Wells’s -40.3.

So maybe, if this signing turns out to be truth, Wells will be moving out of centre? A man can dream.

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Don’t make Doc the new Sundin

What’s the difference between Roy Halladay and Mats Sundin?

Doc wants to win.

(Sorry, eyebleaf, I know Mats wanted to win, too, but stick with me.)

At the top of their professions, both guys were stuck on mediocre Toronto-based teams. Both guys were coveted by basically every team in their leagues. Both guys had no-trade clauses. Both guys seemingly wanted to finish their careers in Toronto. Both guys were subjects of hysterical trade rumours. Neither guy wanted any part of the media circus. And now, with the latest out of Doc’s camp, neither player is willing to be a rental during the last year of their contract.

If you can believe Doc’s agent, Halladay will approve a trade during the off-season. But if he starts spring training as a Blue Jay, he’ll end the season as a Blue Jay.

That, as ESPN’s Buster Olney says in the link above, means the Jays will only get two draft picks in compensation instead of whatever haul a trade would bring in. He also says it’s now “less than 50-50” that a trade will happen in the off-season because Doc’s contract expires after 2010. Guess he hasn’t heard that the Jays are allowing a window for potential trade partners to negotiate an extension.

Personally, I hope Anthopoulos gets a deal done ASAP. Doc will get a chance to win and the Jays will get something more than draft picks in return. I’ll miss Doc, and it would be cool to see him carve up Toronto’s opponents for one more year, but he deserves better than the idiocy Sundin had to deal with during his last year in Toronto.

Link Dump

• Griffin sets the record straight on what went down last season in regards to Doc and how Ricciardi didn’t botch the trade talks.

• No surprise here, but A.J. wants his bestest bud in the whole world to join him in New York.

• Think this Halladay situation is bad? Imagine you’re a Twins fan. Not only is Mauer arguably the most valuable player in all of baseball, he’s from the Twin Cities.

• Matt Stairs now has a street named after him in his hometown of Fredericton, N.B.  The street is right outside Royals Field, where Stairs got his start with the Fredericton Royals of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League.

• As Bud Selig gets ready to step down, Federal Baseball says good riddance. And they’re right. The way he treated the Expos was disgraceful.

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Alex Gonzalez? *facepalm*

When the Blue Jays signed John McDonald to a two-year deal yesterday, there was a lot of consternation among Jays fans. Sure people were happy to have a fan favourite back, but you can’t expect to win with an all-glove no-bat shortstop in a lineup that has trouble producing the runs needed to win, can you?

Well, no need to worry! Alex Anthopoulos had no intention of The Prime Minister of Defence being the team’s starting shortstop. No, as every Toronto fan’s favourite reporter tells us, AA had another all-glove, no-bat shortstop in mind for the starter’s job.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, Alex Gonzalez!

To be fair to Gonzalez, he does have a pretty good glove. Fan Graphs has him ranked eighth in the majors in UZR and fifth in UZR/150 among shortstops. And he did hit for .284/.316/.453 in 44 games after joining Boston last year, but he can’t be expected to keep that pace up. Especially since he’s averaged .247/.294/.395 over his career.

Call me crazy, but I just don’t see what Gonzalez offers that Johnny Mac doesn’t.

UPDATE: MLBastian is filtering the details of the Gonzalez signing as he gets them. Definitely worth following if you’re not already. Apparently the deal is one year with a club option. Gonzalez will make $2.75 million in 2010 and stands to make $2.5M in 2011.

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It looks like The Plan is going to affect Doctor Moose

I listened to Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos explain the plan for the team (you can listen here if you’re so inclined) and here’s what I took from it: The man can talk. And I don’t mean in the he-gives-long-answers-to-simple-questions way (even though he does).

No, I mean he can talk in the isn’t-this-pile-of-crap-awesome way and be convincing about it.

Listening to him explain The Plan, I felt excited. Thinking back on what he said, I’m not so excited.

I won’t go into a full recap of The Plan, as others have already done a great of it — check the Jays links to the right if you’re interested — but there are two main points I want to address:

1. The team is going to suck for a while longer.

2. Roy Halladay is going to be shipped out of town.

By themselves, neither of these points would make me very happy; together, I think I can live with them.

If Anthopoulos is resigned to the fact that Doc’s “timetable for winning is different” than the team’s, he’s not going to let Doc walk as a free agent. Anthopoulos is going to have to trade him. While that will be painful for myself and every Jays fan, it will be good, for fans at least, in both the long and the short-term.

In the long-term, the return Toronto gets from trading Doc should mean that the team will complete its “building” phase and be competitive again much quicker. In the short-term, trading Doc will give Blue Jays fans something to cheer for while the Jays are rebuilding.

I’d prefer it if Halladay didn’t go to the Yankees or the Red Sox, but even if he does, I’ll be hoping for him to win. Doc is the best pitcher in the game and has given everything he’s got to Toronto for, let’s be honest, longer than the team has deserved. The man deserves to play for a winner.

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Hoping The Plan doesn’t affect Doctor Moose

Right now it’s Saturday morning. The general managers meetings begin on Tuesday in Chicago. As of yet, Anthopoulos and Beeston have not yet unveiled The Plan. This concerns me.

Look, I know that the general managers meetings are not like the winter meetings. Free agents aren’t available yet and trades are typically not done at this time. But you can’t tell me that, at the very least, some laying-the-groundwork type of discussions don’t take place at these meetings, and how can the groundwork be laid if the team doesn’t know where they want the road to go?

The Plan could be announced any time between now and the start of the meetings, and I hope that it is. After the awful season this team put out, the off-season hasn’t been much better yet. I’m not going to pull crap like this idiot, but I could use some encouraging news.

UPDATE: Immediately after posting this, @MLBastian tweeted (twittered? twitted?) Anthopoulos will be speaking to the media later today. The plan may be unveiled. It may not be. Nobody knows. Or, more correctly, I don’t know.

Catching up after the Cito depression

Phillies win

Why are people congratulating the Yankees? Did advertising lie to me again?

• Ever wonder how Roy Halladay got to be so awesome? Turns out it has nothing to hard work and dedication. It’s because he is a moose.

Dave LaRoche, pitching coach for the Las Vegas 51s, has a wife. His wife writes a column for the Fort Scott Tribune. The Jays’ recent coaching shakeup inspired this column of hers. It’s not particularly well written, and it does devolve into religious pap near the end, but if you’re one of those people who think that those involved with sports teams are not normal people it might be worth looking at.

• Some twerp over at Bleacher Report is already talking about how Doctor Moose will lead the Yankees to a repeat next year.

• I know its old news now, but Vernon Wells is having his wrist worked on again. Upon hearing the news, my reaction was “right, that’s why he sucked so hard this year.” But I was being stupid. If the wrist was the problem, why was his OPS 146 points higher on the road? Maybe all the booing goes straight to his wrist?

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Search for Jays’ president ends in Beeston’s mirror

Paul (The) BeestonCall me crazy, but I’m pretty happy that Paul Beeston has signed on as president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays for the next three years.

A quick look through Jays blogs seems to show a general lack of enthusiasm for Beeston’s no-longer-interim position. The main arguments against him appear to be that he didn’t do enough to help the team this year and that this all but guarantees the return of Beeston’s good buddy, The Cito Gaston, as team manager next season.

Personally, I’m willing to give Beeston the benefit of the doubt on what happened with the team this season. I’m going to assume that he really was searching for a new president and that all questionable moves he may have made ($80-million payroll instead of $100 million?) were in an attempt to get affairs in order for the new person whenever he started.

The Cito thing does scare me. The Cito, as is well established at this point, is not a man who can hack it in today’s game. He can’t communicate with the players. He can’t manage lineups or make in-game decisions — unless you count doing nothing as a decision. But maybe Cito staying isn’t as set in stone as it might seem to be.

Jerry Howarth was just on the Bullpen with Mike Hogan (where’d the Tother go? Could it be??) and was asked what Beeston’s appointment means for Cito. The audio’s not up yet, so I can’t give you his exact quote, but it was along the lines of “Cito’s future is far from decided. That’s got to be the toughest decision that Paul and Alex Anthopoulos have to make this off-season, especially after what happened with the players at the end of the season.”

Not that Howarth knows exactly what’s going on in the Jays’ offices, but I’m willing to bet he has a better idea than I do — not that that’s a hard feat to accomplish.

But back to giving Beeston a pass on this season. Or, more accurately, why I’m willing to. When I look at Beeston, I see a guy who’s dedicated to winning (or at least gives the impression that he is), a guy who, of anybody, seems most likely to convince Rogers to loosen the purse strings in terms of payroll and, possibly most importantly, I see a guy who might be able to bring Pat Gillick back to Toronto.

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