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.
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.