Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos (heard of him?) was on the Fan 590 this morning, speaking with Jeff Blair about the upcoming Winter Meetings in Dallas, and the off-season in general (audio here). Here’s what he had to say… again:
- Alex isn’t a fan of doing work at the Winter Meetings. He gets more done prior to and after they take place, and sees the physical get-together as a vestige of a time when baseball had a very different way of doing business– one that didn’t involve cell phones or the ubiquitous Blackberry. Yet there’s still value to the meetings, he says, because at them GMs are motivated to get things done.
- There’s also a political component to the meetings that he’s uncomfortable with. It’s an unwritten rule that meetings between teams feature equal numbers of people on both sides, which means that sometimes people have to be asked to leave, in order to even the numbers out. Anthopoulos doesn’t like having to do that to members of his staff, as it possibly gives the impression that they can’t be trusted, so he brings just about the smallest number of people he can.
- Another part of the reason he brings a small staff is because he wants to be able to simulate what they do in Toronto, whereas other clubs expand their pool of people that are in those meetings, which can make things convoluted and slow things down.
- Moving along, Blair asks about the recent comments from Paul Beeston about his distaste for the posting system for Japanese players. “Objectively it’s probably not the most effective way of doing things,” he says, but he gives no indication that this has any bearing on whether the Jays are interested in making bids. Quite the opposite, in fact– he brings up the fact that ultimately Boston thought that Dice-K was a $100-million player, and if he had been a free agent all of that money would have gone to him. They may not think it’s a fair system, but I fully expect the Jays to operate the same way: they put a value on a player, and that’s how much they’re willing to spend.
- “I was just on the phone with an agent before we jumped on,” Alex says, after being asked if there’s a hole in his roster that will be better filled via trade than free agency or vice versa. “It’s always easier to spend money than it is to give up players,” he says. “If you make a mistake, I don’t want to say it’s only money, because it certainly does impact things, and it can impact your payroll going forward, but it feels like it hurts a lot more when you make a mistake in a trade and you give up a very good player.”
- “All that being said, I know that I’ve come out and said that our preferred route is going to be the trade market,” he continues, “just because the free agent market for us, in the two years that I’ve been in the GM’s chair and the other years I’ve been in the AGM chair, you rarely find value in a free agent deal. It’s a lot of why [we've chosen] the philosophy and why we’re setup the way we are, that means we’re going to take more risk, we’re going to make more mistakes, and we’re going to give up players, and that’s the best avenue for us. “
- Asked if there’s a certain component to the lineup that he looks for, Anthopoulos stresses the need for guys who can get on-base, noting Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar as the primary ones, then oddly saying that “Kelly Johnson is a guy who will draw some walks and be a good on-base guy,” as though he isn’t, y’know, essentially a free agent. Slip of the tongue? Does he know something they’re not announcing? I doubt it.
- He adds that he thinks Arencibia and Lind can get better at getting on base, that Brett Lawrie is among the key group, as it’s something they had asked him to focus on, and that Colby Rasmus has shown the ability to take walks in the past, but that can get better. He thinks Thames can get better as well, and notes that Edwin Encarnacion really took off last year when he started to be selective. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to forgo good players,” he adds, “and take someone who just walks.”
- Regarding the backup catcher spot, they feel better than last year, because they know Arencibia is going to be able to handle the load– and Anthopoulos notes that he essentially split time with Molina at the start of the season. This year, they’re not going to look for a guy who can catch 100 games if need be, they’re just going to look for the right fit– i.e. someone who is happy being a backup and isn’t going to stand in the way when Travis d’Arnaud shows up at the door.