Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings are on in Dallas, and apparently Alex Anthopoulos is nervously contemplating plunging the ball over the goal line on a number of moves, at least according to what he told reporters, like Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star, last night when he arrived at the Hilton Anatole.

“We’ve got some things that are at the five-yard line,” Anthopoulos said. “There are some things that are available to us that are intriguing and interesting. I’m just struggling with them. There are things that we can do and I guess when you know they’re tough then you know they’re probably fair on both sides. I have a few that I could do right now. There’s frameworks of deals that can be made, both trades and free agency, that both sides would have to decide if they want to do it, but I think both sides are intrigued.”

Alright, so do something! And I mean more than just Jeff Mathis, who Anthopoulos told reporters is straight up taking over Jose Molina’s role. “You look at when we signed Molina from the Yankees as a 34-, 35-year-old. I think he had a five-something OPS at the time and he was known as a great defender, a great game-caller,” he said. “Jeff’s in a similar boat where you’re looking at 100-odd at-bats like Molina had.”

“I don’t know that there’s a lot of backups out there that hit well. Normally if you hit well, you’re not a backup,” he added.

So, what will the Jays GM do at these all-important Winter Meetings? Perhaps nothing.

“I don’t think our phones at the office will be ringing off the hook if we don’t do anything here and then do something five days later when we get home,” he told reporters, as relayed by Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.

Well that sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Ugh.

Here’s what else is happening right now…

Elliott tells us that the Jays have a nine man contingent in Dallas. Besides Anthopoulos there’s assistant GMs Tony LaCava, Jay Sartori, special assistant to the GM Dana Brown, manager John Farrell, pro scouting director Perry Minasian, amateur scouting director Andrew Tinnish, pro scouting co-ordinator Harry Einbinder, and information analyst Joe Sheehan.

Explaining where he was at this time last year in Griffin’s piece, Anthopoulos says that “We were in such a different place as an organization. Coming into the meetings, I didn’t know what 2011 was going to hold. I felt if we were going to make a trade it would have to be something that wasn’t going to hurt us long term.”

“There were so many question marks and uncertainties that could have gone the other way,” he adds. “Both Hill and Lind could have not played well [Note: didn't they?]. Arencibia could have failed. Our whole rotation could have crumbled. Vernon was still here, if he had reverted back. Bautista wasn’t signed. I don’t think anyone in our group could say with certainty what was going to happen with those players. We needed to find out and we needed to make as many short-term moves as we could that would allow us the flexibility to go either way and react to what happened during the year.”

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports previews the key players at the Winter Meetings, and calls the Jays “hard to decipher,” thinking they may still be among the favourites to land Prince Fielder. So… there’s that.

Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail was also in on the Anthopouls scrum, and he says that the GM indicated that he was generally happy with his position players, and would be focussed on acquiring pitching– which, of course, is pretty easy to say, since there’s nobody in the back end of the rotation to offend with that comment. Anthopoulos said that he thought Drew Hutchison could pitch in the Majors next year, and listed a few other options. “It was clear as he listed Chad Jenkins, Nestor Molina, Deck McGuire and of course Henderson Alvarez as minor-league pitchers on the cusp that he would consider moving Kyle Drabek in a deal that would bring in another pitcher capable of giving the team 200 innings in the majors,” Blair interprets. I’m not so sure, but as was the case with Brett Wallace, maybe they’ve seen enough.

Sam Miller goes through “a dark and twisted spiral of Yu Darvish photos” for Getting Blanked. Better him than me.

Twitter tells me that longtime Cubs third baseman Ron Santo has been elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee– and just in time for him to be dead and not enjoy it!

JP Ricciardi of the Mets is at the Winter Meetings, tweets Gregor Chisholm, and he’s got a pic to prove the man is looking JP Ricciardi-like as ever.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe previews the Winter Meetings from a Red Sox perspective. Interesting insight on the competition.

The Washington Post points out that there’s a massive hole in baseball’s new HGH testing program– no in-season tests. Well that’s just dumb, PR wise. Reality wise, who the fuck cares if anyone’s doing it?

The Org Guy at the Tao of Stieb gives us some smart shopping tips.

According to MLBTR, the Jays are one of six teams looking into reliever Luis Ayala. FanGraphs explains why it’s a bad thing to be one of those teams.

Lastly, at Grantland, Jonah Keri previews the Winter Meetings and just about exactly hits it on the head when it comes to the Jays.

There’s work to be done if the Jays hope to contend with the three powerhouses of the AL East, even with an extra wild-card spot on the way by 2013. But GM Alex Anthopoulos should feel good about the work he’s already done, heisting Yunel Escobar from the Braves, then signing him to a below-market contract; inking Jose Bautista to a five-year deal that now looks like it could be way, way, way below market; locking up lefty ace Ricky Romero, etc. The Jays need to find at least one and preferably two more reliable starters, though. Team president Paul Beeston has already said he wants no part of Yu Darvish and his sure-to-be-exorbitant posting fee. If they pass on Buehrle and Wilson, Anthopoulos probably isn’t the type to overextend on the next tier (say, Paul Maholm), meaning low-cost options likely await. The good news is a generation of rising pitching prospects led by Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire, and Nestor Molina could be just a year or two away, so short-term deals for veterans with upside (Ontario native Erik Bedard, perhaps?) could make a lot of sense.

The offense probably looks a little better on paper than it is in reality, with Eric Thames a questionable option as an everyday player despite a playable debut season, and Adam Lind’s on-base woes overshadowing his significant power. Speaking of Canadians, the Jays got linked to Joey Votto rumors earlier this offseason. It’d be a match made in heaven given Votto’s Toronto roots and prodigious ability, but the Reds’ reluctance to move him and the likely asking price of fellow Canadian Brett Lawrie (and more) make any kind of deal an extreme long shot. You get the feeling the Jays could be really scary sometime soon, but that time might not be until 2013.

Comments (29)

  1. Shi Davidi says we shouldn’t expect Prince.

    I expect what long-suffering fans of this farce of an organization deserve: a team capable of competing with the Red Sox and Yankees. If the Jays aren’t that organization now, I’m going to presume they never will be. I can take my money elsewhere.
    Everybody start ransoming their internet and cable bills, and we’ll see who should expect what.

  2. If they’re not now, they won’t ever be. Yeah, that makes 100% sense.

  3. it’s the same rigamarole from the JPR days. no one at the yankees says they aren’t going to spend because they need to wait for the farm to develop. same in boston. and it looks like, the same in chicago. so why here? because it just so-happened that in the 1980s when paul beeston was first around that’s what happened. and they still didn’t win until they brought in morris, winfield, molitor, and the so-on.
    let’s jump for joy tho, because they can play another season at or close to .500 because they’re overpaying some fool to come out solely in the 9th inning.
    it’s like asking for a ps3, and then your parents hand you an nes and tell you that it’s just as good. if you want a ps3 you should go to your friends house to play (wait till the yankees come to town and cheer for them). your parents need that money for expensive dinners, trips and sending you to a terrible summer camp. at some point you have to realise your parents may be rich, but they don’t love you.

    and yes – i did just equate presents with parental love without a hint of irony.

  4. think Boras advises Prince to wait till Pujols decides or do you think it is better for him to strike first?

  5. I wonder what those trades and signings are that are at the 5-yard line?

    Punch one through AA!  I want action!

  6. I think it is best for Prince to wait.

    But then you risk Pujols signing for way less than thought, and Prince’s value goes down.  But I still think he waits and gets the market all to himself. 

  7. Look JP, gotta snap a pic!
    Also I did not know 2 Joe Sheehan’s existed.

  8. Pujols probably won’t get the length of deal he wants so he’ll probably get more per season. If Prince was going to get X amount of what Pujols gets then it’s a good strategy. Of course it all depends on who truly has the dollars and will at this point to sign either of them.

  9. I’m not Stoeten, but…

    Given that no one has topped the Cardinals (if the rumors are true), it seems the market is surprisingly flat for Pujols (well, for a player of his HOF calibre demanding an 7+ year deal), so if I’m Boras, I tell Prince Fielder to sign the best deal that comes along, and not worry about Pujols.

    There are a few teams that are have been rumored to be seriously interested in Fielder but not Pujols (i.e. Texas Rangers); it’s not a situation where after one comes off the market, the scarcity in dominant sluggers means the other’s value shoots through the roof. This presupposes too many similarities between the two players and the market for their services. Further, this kind of prolonged holding pattern (really a game of chicken between Lozano and Boras) can ultimately decrease value for both. The way budgeting is done, some of the teams are less likely to be able to add a major salary obligation later in the offseason and with fewer suitors and dollars remaining, the price of both commodities could fall.

    The real question, from an economic perspective, is how much marginal value could be gained by waiting for the other to sign? Considering all deals are based on recent benchmarks (i.e. Teixeira), my guess is that delaying reaps a negligible benefit but has a higher cost.

  10. ” If the Jays aren’t that organization now, I’m going to presume they never will be.”

    This is what we call a non sequitur.

  11. Huh? So getting one game from the World Series in 1985 wasn’t winning? Going down to the wire in 87 wasn’t? Division crown in 89? Again in 91?

    They were an excellent team for years before they touched free agency in that era.

  12. If the Jays are not willing to outlay money to be a team that spends alongside the Yankees and Red Sox now, then it is safe to assume that their spending will always be tied to attendence numbers.

    So, by extension – they are not playing the game the way that other AL East teams do…despite their parent company’s available resources. I find that frustrating as a fan, and I won’t accept it.
    Most people hate the skydome, but it isn’t going anywhere soon, unless the gravy-hating taxpayers of Toronto want to build the Jays a new stadium. In short: Rogers isn’t going to drive the trian here.

    Presumably, we’ll just have to wait until AA is in his death-throes before he makes a risky Wells-esque move which is badly advised, but IF it pays off, he looks smart, but IF it fails, it’s the next guy’s problem.

    Fielder hasn’t had 1.5 good seasons. He’s pretty consistent, and he’s young. Beyond that, if the Wells contract is move-able, then any contract is.

  13. I’d be interested to see what the gap between their payroll and the rest of the division was at that time.

    Also, name what free agents were available in the mid 80s…there was nothing equivilent to Fielder on the market for them to snatch up. I can’t remember back then, but I remember wanting them to sign Henderson when he was a free agent in 89.

    The point is not that they can’t be a good team without free agents – the point is: if they have a need and the money to do something about it – there is no reason not to.

  14.  There were like five players from those 80s teams on the WS teams. Hardly the same squad or even the same core.

  15. You must be 14 years old.

    If you’re gonna make a point, make it at least a little believable.

    The Jays were competative in the 80′s,to say they didn’t win until they brought in Morris ,Molitor or Winfield is just wrong. Read Stoeten’s comment.

    It’s startin to piss me off with all your misinformation.

    The Jays in the 80′s should prove to you how hard it is to get to the WS.To field a team that’s this close then miss.You need a solid TEAM and something to push you over the top.

    It is a little disconcerting that you compare baseball teams to game systems as a reason for parental love.
    But that’s okay let your anger out.Better here than out on the streets.

  16. I see JP is still looking as dick-ish as ever…fuggin’ moron

  17. i’m aware of the precociousness of that argument. i cribbed it from the “how to buy action figureman” episode. ;P – being a sportsfan is, as you say, not really a domain that lends itself well to adultivity. i say: embrace it. we aren’t going to see the jays algorithms anytime soon, and AA is willfully deceitful – which most view as an asset – so, basically we’re just guessing and hoping. to me, the level of attention you and i give this team is itself an indictment of our ability to spend time wisely in the first place. but that’s depressing to think about…

    i’m also aware of the team’s success in the mid-80s being driven by non-free agent talent. i’m also aware of how the post-strike CBA altered the bargaining system.  this new CBA, has made free agency more expensive by limiting the ability of teams of focus on acquiring elite prospects and amateur free agents. it’s an attempt to channel the search for value into the pockets of established talent. some teams will figure out the best balance, but right now, it looks like fielder is going to be undervalued. if votto reaches free agency, i expect his contract to far exceed mark teixiera’s presuming votto just performs at the level he has consistently done so over the last 3-4 years.

    i presume that hte reason AA is agonizing over the deals he says at ‘at the 5 yard line’ is because they are still trying to model how valuable amateur talent and prospects are going forward, and if they make a deal – they’ll effectively be setting the market, so they have nothing to compare it against.

  18. Its funny how you’re ignoring that the rays have been competitive in this division without having to spend like the redsox and yankees.

  19. I can’t believe some of the crap you guys post. Rogers has spent money before. I try my best to forget BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett, and the Vernon Wells extension, hell, we dodged a bullet with Alex Rios too. 

    Spending money for the sake of spending money is a bad idea. The Jays are certainly close to contention, and while getting Prince Fielder would be a huge step in the right direction, it’s also a huge chunk of cash to be giving away, which limits future flexibility. 

    With the new changes to the CBA limiting draft and international amateur free agent spending, it seems like a logical conclusion that the money they can’t spend is going to go towards the Major League payroll. 

    Would you guys really be happy if our payroll was 20 million higher? They should just give it to Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar because they outperform their contracts. AA and his team do a great job getting value, and eventually they’re going to have to make that push to add a player that might not be cheap, or a bargain, but will put them over the top and I guess it’s up to them to decide if that piece is going to be Prince Fielder.

  20. it’s funny how you’re ignoring that the CBA changed a few weeks ago, and that the Rays’ success might have something to do with having top-5 picks for a decade and then finally turning those into: Longoria, Upton, Price and Crawford (oh, and josh hamilton) and the Jays have Romero from the one time they were terrible enough to have a decent pick in the last decade.

  21. rogers spent that money because the team looked kinda good, and then they went and got these mid-level FAs that they overpaid, or they were udner pressure and hail-mary’d Wells because their jobs were in jeopardy and if it didn’t pan out, it wouldn’t be their problem (because they’d be fired…which is what happened).

    fans should pressure them to do something to get elite talent now. not some bodies at some point some time.

  22. Yankees adn redsox ddint spend like they spend now in 92,93 blue jays had the highest payroll when they won. How many times did the yankees get close and didnt win you can play that game about anyone.

  23. Just because one team doesnt mean they can, also when the Rays built within there was only two teams in the divsoin to compete agaisnt in the redsox and Yankees now when the blue jays are finally ready they have three teams adn since Baltimore is now rebuilding a year later then the Jays there could be 5 in this divison prospects or not every other team has prospects you need superstars to win this divsion Zobrist,Joyce,Jennings and Longoria is four we need at least four or more allstars to win this divison or balls deep pitching.

  24. prospects can fail we essentially need all there prospects to faill and Tex,Cc,Granderson need to fall off a fucking cliff and Agon,lester,Pedroia,.
    Longoria,Price,Sheilds. This isnt the AL East of the fucking early 90′s.
    Yankees and redsox will always be here why waste Jose;s talents.

  25. How does it limit future payroll Beeston has siad he sees payroll around 120-150 million, adding Prince brings us under 90 million.

  26. JP spent the money badly AA wouldnt, Jp gave huge contracts on one good year and potenial in Rios. one good year in Ryan,Burnett,Wells,.
    Prince has done this for six.

  27. AA gave Jose a big contract for one good year. Work ethic was why he gave it to him, it worked out.

  28. Jp would have gave Jose 20 million a year not 12

  29. Good points.

    Maybe the reason AA is agonizing over the deals is because he is no longer trading,Tim Collins,Chavez etc. but elite talent.
    I don’t think he’s as concerned about setting the market as much as what future to sacrifice vs past performance.
    The better the team and minor leagues get,the tougher the decisions will be.

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