This Zack Greinke business simply will. not. end. And while in one way I guess it beats talking about Octavio “Don’t Ask” Dotel (H/T to @theskeptictank for that gem), it’s kind of a little fucking ridiculous that now three of our last four posts revolve around a player the Jays didn’t even fucking trade for.
Yet, here we are, with Richard Griffin defending himself in the preamble to his latest mail bag for the Toronto Star– which I’ll dip into myself in due time, probably between some rum and nog over the next week or so– over the notion that he gave the Jays’ rumoured pursuit legs it really didn’t have.
“I am told that I promoted the trade of Greinke to the Jays and suggested it was a distinct possibility when in the wake of the six-player deal between the Brewers and Royals, the strong implication from Greinke was that the Jays were never in the mix,” he says. “I have been around the game long enough that when someone says that a team was on his no-trade list, that can be changed in a heartbeat if that ends up being where he wants to go.”
In fact, Greinke waived his no-trade clause to come to Milwaukee based on the way their off-season has gone, so in that sense Griffin kinda has a point. “I knew Prince only had one year left on his contract and I wasn’t sure what direction they were going to go in with him,” Greinke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But once they signed Marcum and didn’t trade Prince, I knew they were in it.”
However, Alex Anthopoulos tells a slightly different story– though he qualifies it by noting that “Part of [the confusion] is that we don’t deny trades or rumours or things like that people can run with them, and I understand that.”
“Correct. Yeah,” Anthopoulos replied.
“And the process didn’t get as far as, frankly, a lot of us thought it did,” Blair added.
Cue Anthopoulosian ramblings:
“It was really one of those things [where Dayton Moore and I said], ‘Hey, let’s– rather than even try to engage– why engage and go back and forth with dialogue and names if ultimately it’s not going to get anywhere? Let’s make sure that the player is willing to come here.’ And my understanding was that he was going to review teams that were on his no-trade list [to see if he'd be willing to waive the clause]. … I had been told that there was a strong desire on the player’s part to pitch in the National League, and also have a chance to hit– he’s a very good athlete, he was a two way player out of the draft– so there was a lot of appeal to him [in Milwaukee].”
Comparing it to the situation he found himself in last year with Roy Halladay, Anthopoulos insists that the Royals GM was a class act, and easy to deal with. “He didn’t waste anybody’s time, and he really focussed on the team– on the teams– the player was willing to go to.”
So… yeah, there’s that.
Oh, And There Were Actually Other Things To Talk About…
The rest of the conversation between Blair and Anthopoulos (which also included Mike Wilner, though he didn’t say all that much), didn’t reveal anything terribly new, though there were a few items that I thought were interesting nonetheless, most of which revolved around the concept of having a “window” for contention, and the notion put forth by panicky idiots that it could be open this year for the Jays, so they should rush towards it with the speed of… um… something really fast.
“People talk like the Yankees lost Cliff Lee as if he was on the team. They won 95 games and Cliff Lee was not on that team,” Anthopoulos points out, noting that the Yankees’ only real loss so far is Andy Pettitte. “This was a 95 win team with guys like Burnett not having a great year– and you think he’s certainly be better than he showed.”
“Our goal,” he continued, “and it’s always been this way, is to not be built like ‘there’s a small window, it’s a year or two.’ The window– there isn’t going to be a window if we do this thing right. The window is going to be never-ending.” And he’s not about to take short cuts and have to tear the thing back down again in a few years.
However, there’s a caveat: people will actually, eventually, have to start coming out to the fucking ballpark.
He says that with success attendance should rise, revenue should rise, and then payroll will rise with it. And he adds that Tampa, having been a winning club for a few years, have seen that their ceiling, with respect to attendance and revenue, only goes to a certain point, so they’ve had to make some difficult financial decisions.
“If we had had the kind of success that the Rays have had, with the kind of upside of Canada, Rogers, the market that we’re in, Toronto, and so on, you start adding all that up and we’d have been drawing three million fans,” he says.
“This place can be a powerhouse,” he assures us, and don’t take the lack of attendance in recent years to mean otherwise. “There are very few markets where you just open up the doors and the place is full,” he says.
Easy to say from this time and place in the world, but sure, sounds good.
So Who Do The Jays Add?
At the end in interview with Blair, Anthopoulos said that the main thing still on his wish list is someone to pitch the ninth inning. By now you know my policy on Dotel (don’t ask)– who the club is rumoured to be in on– so let’s think elsewhere on the diamond. Specifically, someone who’ll keep Rajai Davis from getting regular playing time, either by playing the outfield himself, or by allowing Jose Bautista to shift off of third.
Me? Being slightly more realistic, I’m going to take whatever dignity I have left from my flirtation with Team Derrek Lee and move it in the direction of Felipe Lopez.
Don’t all start jumping for fucking joy at once.
But think about it:
The Jays could use another guy who hits left– adding one would bring their grand total among projected regulars to three (Lind and Snider being the others)– which Lopez, as a switch hitter, does.
They could use a guy who can either play second or third– Lopez does both.
They could use a guy who, if Davis becomes the fourth outfielder, can leadoff– and while not necessarily ideal, during his career Lopez has been his team’s leadoff hitter more often than he’s hit from any other spot in the batting order, and in 2010 305 of his 441 plate appearances were leading off.
Now, there’s an issue with the fact that he’s not a great fielder– though, looking at his Fangraphs page, his negative value in the field is dragged down monumentally when he plays short, at least in terms of UZR. He’s been passable, or occasionally even decent at second or third.
There’s also the issue of his vomitous .233/.311/.345/.656 line in 2010. However, the year before that he put up a downright impressive .310/.383/.427/.810 (wait, seriously?) and there’s likely some element of bad luck in his 2010 numbers, as his BABIP was .273, compared to a career mark of .316 (and a .358 in 2009). In fact, counting only his full seasons in the majors– not the partial years from 2001 to 2004 where he never played in more than 85 games– only once before last year had he put up an OBP under .343.
He also was a Type-B free agent this year, though that’s largely on the basis of his 2009, which won’t factor into next year’s rankings. And, should you luck out and get to that point with him, you’re really going to take the chance he accepts arbitration?
Still… maybe there’s something there worth taking a chance on? I know, it’s not exactly inspiring stuff. But I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. At least that way you could hedge your bets a little– hope either Davis or Lopez is decent enough to play every day. I dunno, If you wanted me to make a prediction, I guess that’s where I’m gonna go. One day I might even get one right.