I really feel like I owe a grand post on the Jays’ annual State of the Franchise event, which took place tonight at Rogers Centre, if not to the world, at least to the members of the club’s PR team, like Jay Stenhouse and Mal Romanin, who were kind enough to invite myself and a number of other bloggers to the affair– even if I had a sneaking suspicion that part of the appeal was the potential for some free, positive coverage of the kind that the mainstream outlets haven’t been so interested in providing lately. The club’s staff was affable, accommodating, and amazingly didn’t even toss us from the post-event media scrums with Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston (though for a moment it was close, Eric), even if it meant allowing the definition of media to be blurred-enough that some of the unwashed masses were rather hilariously able to jump into the fray. Or, in the case of some video podcast nobody has ever fucking heard of, called Back In Blue, getting exclusive post-scrum interviews with the CEO and GM. Um… WTF?

Thing is, as much as I feel that an expansive post is warranted here, right now I can’t be arsed to do one– partly because, speaking of the line between media and non-media, I decided it only seemed right to firmly straddle it when a free beer was basically thrust into my hand approximately 30 seconds after arriving.

So, for now, let’s skip the gory details, the winks at Richard Griffin,the polite conversation with the delightful John Lott, the terrifying guy in a fedora staring in the direction of Drew Fairservice and I for practically the entire Q&A. Let’s get to what few nuggets Anthopoulos and Beeston offered to us, and maybe we’ll revisit the rest later.

Here’s what jumped out at me:

- In defending the club’s actions on Prince Fielder– a softball attempt to defuse the night’s biggest PR hand grenade off the hop– Paul Beeston, perhaps inadvertently threw Adam Lind under the bus, claiming that the club won’t do a deal for more than five years on anyone, but if Fielder had been available for one, for three, for five years, “we would have been there.” That’s some confidence in your current first baseman, Beest. Not that he deserves confidence, mind you, but still.

- The question above was asked by the evening’s emcee, Buck “Albert” Martinez. At one point I asked myself, would Alan Ashby have been up there happily lobbing softballs at the panel, acting as a blatant PR stooge? Something tells me no.

- At one point John Farrell referred to new reliever Darren Oliver’s “left-handed specialty.” I know he’s a giant slab-of-meat of a man, but would it kill somebody to point out to Farrell what splits are?

- A couple of times during the Q&A Alex Anthopoulos emphasised athleticism as being part of the direction the club is headed in. A subtle way to undercut the fans who are livid over Fielder, or a genuine tactic? Judging by the profiles of the kinds of prospects he’s acquired, I’ll guess the latter.

- Speaking of livid fans, there were a few, but there was nothing of the kind of foment that I expected. In fact, the first fan who had the audacity to get negative was met with considerable restlessness from the section I was seated in– but also clapping from what sounded like a majority of the crowd, once he had made his point.

- From the “getting specific without getting specific” file, Alex Anthopoulos answered a question about the Jays’ inability to sign Carlos Beltran [Note: seriously?] by pointing out that some players don’t want to play on turf, some don’t want to DH, some don’t want to change leagues. Makes total sense, and is exactly what you’d expect Beltran’s reasons for passing to have been. Y’know, if AA had acknowledged the elephant in the room and mentioned the fact that some players actually want to win, too.

- Later in the evening the GM referred to the fact that there were two players this off-season who they offered more money or more years to, but who turned them down. Given the comments above, I’d bet hard that Beltran was one. The other… I dunno… Kuroda? Madson? Broxton?

- Later still, in the post-event scrum, Paul Beeston made one of the more interesting comments of the evening, following a series of questions about installing a grass field– which he says could be done, if they don’t have any non-baseball events in the building (in other words: it ain’t happening), and he says has been under consideration for 10 years. Getting specific about the fact that some players don’t want to come here and play on turf, Beeston claims that Carl Crawford balked at the possibility. Because, y’know, he was totally coming here otherwise. (I’m not seeing this one written elsewhere, but I assure you I didn’t dream it.)

- On the other side of the player acquisition front, Anthopoulos got specifically non-specific about the trades that the club “missed out on” this winter, as some fucking buffoons would say. The club made their prospects available, he said in response to a particularly frustrated questioner, and they could have made trades, but other clubs wanted big league talent back– read: Brett Lawrie– and if they did it, “you’d be up there asking why we made the deal.”

- Speaking to that point as clearly as he possibly could, Anthopoulos pointed out that if they had traded a Brett Lawrie for a pitcher, or Henderson Alvarez “and four guys behind him,” they would have simply been filling one hole by creating another. How do fans not get this? What magical trades do they seriously think could have been made?

- One of the more interesting questions of the night came from a gentleman who said he had a bunch of young players from Venezuela playing in Niagara Falls, and that he’d tried to contact the Jays to come have a look at them, but got nowhere– meanwhile, the Texas Rangers, while the World Series was on, no less, did heed his calls, and came up and signed five of them. Anthopoulos said he was unaware of the situation and was curious himself to find out how this particular ball was dropped– if that, indeed, was the case.

- Getting more general, Paul Beeston said that MLB has been looking into spicing up interleague play by having NL rules in AL parks and vice versa, much to the delight of fans who could somehow possibly give a fuck.

- Asked about the Jays abysmal interleague record over the years– despite the entire roster being turned over– John Farrell pointed to the recent hiring of ex-catcher-of-the-future, Kevin Cash, who will do advance scouting on the Jays’ interleague opponents, which will hopefully give them an edge they didn’t have in recent years.

- Farrell also mentioned the possibility of using outfield platoons in 2012– presumably in left, presumably with one of Thames and Snider, who will have an open competition this spring for the starting job, and Ben Francisco or Rajai Davis. If it’s the latter, OK– well, apart from the fact that Snider, should he be here, deserves every at-bat he can get– but if they’re thinking platooning a lefty with Francisco, um… again, someone please feel free to tell the manager about the existence of splits.

- On the good side of the ledger, Farrell shot down the traditional notion that a speedy player needs to lead-off, saying that they should put their guys with the best ability to get on base ahead of Jose Bautista in the lineup. Bea-utiful! It’s just… um… then explain why the fuck we saw so much of Eric Thames in the two-hole last year?

- Farrell also spoke highly of prospect Drew Hutchison, and said that, especially at mid-season, he would have no reluctance to call him up to the bigs, if the need were to arise. Of course, if the need for Hutchison to come in like a white knight arises, things aren’t going so good.

- At one point a female questioner asked about the ridiculous lack of ladies merchandise that isn’t either too cute or pink or features only the cutest and most popular players. Um… awesome question. Beeston was quick to agree to just about everything on the night, but this one in particular seemed like a concern he wanted to look like he wanted to get to the bottom of.

- It didn’t make it into my notes, but at one point during the Q&A, Alex Anthopoulos referred to coming into his job and having, among other challenges, players wanting to be traded, and later he said that Roy Halladay “demanded a trade.” He said it more casually than it maybe looks in print, and I know we all know that Halladay made it clear that he wasn’t going to re-sign and all that, but have we ever heard so explicitly that a trade was “demanded”? I didn’t think so, but then again, I long ago stopped giving a shit about the franchise’s second greatest ever pitcher.

- Speaking about his methods for player acquisition, and how they might change under the new CBA, Anthopoulos said that– fucking obviously– the plan wasn’t to attempt to hoard draft picks in perpetuity, but that the way he loaded up on picks in his first three years was, in essence, a way to exploit the system.

- To that point, lastly, and perhaps most curiously, Anthopoulos said that going forward, even though it’s going to be harder to hoard picks and to get players over slot, he wants to keep building the club’s minor league core by always having a first and second round pick. Again: he always wants to have a first and second round pick. Unsaid, of course, is that to do so, he’d never be signing a free agent who’d require them to give up his pick to the team the player came from? I don’t know if that’s what he meant, but that’s what he said– fortunately for Alex is was wrapped in his typical Anthopoulspeak and not easy to catch.

Update: On the above, crossed-out last point I had to go and take a look at the new CBA, because, truth be told, I was never actually clear on how the pick forfeiting aspect of free agent compensation works. Turns out, Anthopoulos didn’t say anything of note here, because, while clubs who sign free agents that received a $12-million qualifying offer (or whatever the number that year happens to be) do forfeit their first round pick to the team the player came from (unless they pick in the top 10, in which case they give up their second-rounder), those clubs get a pick back at the end of the first (or, if applicable, second) round– essentially a sandwich pick, but one that is referred to as part of the preceding round. In other words, the fact that the Jays will always have a first- and second-rounder has nothing to do with any sort of planned unwillingness to sign high-end free agents.

Update the second: Oh beer. So delicious. So mind-fucky. Um… ya, so it turns out I misread a rather critical word in the section of the CBA pertaining to the Update above. It’s not teams who sign players that received Type-A qualifying offers who get a pick back at the end of the first round, but the teams that lose those players. In the wording of the CBA, as it appears online, it’s unclear whether this pick goes to the club who lost the player in addition to the pick forfeited by the signing club, or if the end-of-round pick is the only compensation. Either way, the team who signs such a player loses theirs, and once again the comment from Alex Anthopoulos that the Jays will always have their first- and second-round pick becomes potentially ominous. (Thanks to @fmblair for pointing out the error in the correction to the first error.)

So… there’s that.

Comments (158)

  1. huh? Yes, I am talking about NOW, where TDA is considered one of the best catcher prospects and Gose is considered one of the best outfield prospects.

    Halladay was leaving. It was a foregone conclusion. I don’t get your point about free agents in this argument concerning Halladay. The Jays signed a bunch of free agents (Burnett, Thomas, Ryan, etc.) when they had Halladay in hopes of getting into contention and it failed horribly because they had no core built up from prospects.

  2. Says the guy who felt the need to respond to my argument nearly 12 hours after it was made just to pathetically insult me.

    Roy Halladay is a significantly better pitcher than Dave Stieb and did good on this organization by asking out when he did. I’m not going to apologize for pointing that out.

  3. and please can you people fuck off with your Rogers apologists. Just because we live in the real world of today and aren’t crying about shit you can’t change from the past 20 years does not make us “apologists” … maybe optimists, but better than being a cynical douche.

  4. I think the number is 15 … based on what I saw from that link. That number makes a bit more sense I think.

  5. The real issue is the roof. Retractable roofs meant natural grass was very expensive to maintain until newer systems started to be introduced recently. The Arizona system is (I believe) the current state of the art but I don’t know if it is feasible to retrofit the Skydome (I assume not, based on what a retractable field implies for the structure).

  6. Well…they haven’t spent it in over 11 years of ownership. What were they waiting for in the Halladay era?

  7. It would be great for them to do that for both the team and the fans, no question, but it’s just very hard to see them moving away from the current profitable arrangement they already have.

  8. 15… so much more sense… so much less excitement.

  9. of course i’m disappointed that noone asked what i believe to be the most pertinent question for AA.  If his payroll parameter was significantly higher right now as the increase in value of the media rights would indicate, would he have managed personnel decisions differently this offseason and how.

  10. I remember reading a tweet last night about AA becoming the next team
    president. Was this just vaguely hinted at, or was there something more
    said regarding this?

  11. Hopefully Cash is better as a Major League Scout than he was as a Major League player

  12. True – the profitability of their current stadium arrangements will discourage change.  The hope is that the economics of natural grass keep improving on the one hand while management keeps getting frustrated with the turf on the other, and eventually those lines cross.

  13. I see Rogers building a new ball park in 15 years from now.   I see The Rogers Centre/Sky Dome as an upgrade to that of the Astrodome when it opened.  The Astros were there for 31 years and the Jays are in year 23 at the Rogers Centre.

  14. So what I can take from all this is a) Farrell needs to read and understand the things that you do b) you would read splits as a manager so you should stop wasting your powers of being able to read and understand things on just us blog readers and c) you don’t read and understand things about the CBA — its a vicious cycle of ignorance that would have only been broken if the Jays had signed Fielder and traded for Latos…lol

  15. I was thinking more Roger Clemens, myself

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong (and I know you will).
    But in the Halladay era didn’t they have argueably one of the best starting rotations in baseball?
    An allstar CF,emerging star in RF,solid 3rd base.The glaring weakness was a solid closer and DH.Both of which they aquired but wasn’t enough to put them over the top.

  17. I just read this in Don Draper’s voice, haha!

  18. Clemens was the best pitcher to ever wear the uniform hands down. 

  19. Hipster, imo is a way of thought…not a way people dress. Though the 2 most often are connected. “pander to some bullshit establishment dress code” lol I just read that in some hippy ass voice…go fucking waste your time occupying something.

  20. So is using the term moronic. Stick to giving me baseball info…I never started this conversation, James did when he generalized fans/teams.

  21. you’re just not looking at it objectively enough lol 

  22. The great thing about being part of the “two years from now” crowd is that it’s on a sliding scale.

    I went to a preseson talk with Gaston before the 2009 season, and guess what the team was spouting then? We’re two years away from contending.

    How long do we wait for the prospects to bring us to contention? Two year, three, twenty?

  23. That shouldn’t be difficult.

  24. Foolishness aside, good wrap up of the event. I hope you tracked down the guy who spoke up about the Rasmus deal and gave him a good talking to.

  25. JP Richardi being an awful baseball GM whose views on scouting and over reliance on College statistics on drafting screwed over the teams farm system in a major way.

  26. Nice line. Problem is, they spent.

  27. A fan asked about it, and asked if it might be someone on the panel. It wasn’t serious enough to bother wondering about.

  28. cmon even cito know better than to take what a manager says about his team seriously

  29. Shitstain.

  30. Stick to saying moronic shit like “hipsters piss me off”.

  31. You actually look at what’s in the system and use your brain to see how it’s different.

  32. Well now I feel like a dick. Thanks.

  33. Who in the world takes a million $$ cut in pay for his slimy manager to get contending type players? He can be a bit serious at times but Halladay was and is FANTASTIC!!

  34. Lol all in good fun…anything to get a reaction!

  35. It’s new that we have what’s perceived to be a great farm system.  I agree with that.  AA has done a great job there.  But we don’t yet know how many of them will be Brett Lawries and how many of them will be Brett Wallaces. 

    We can agree to disagree on this season.  I think it will be a more important indicator of the club’s health than you do.

  36. There was a taller version of you in the crowd that I thought was you until I saw the real you hanging out with the real Stoeten. Pedantic, I know.

  37. By the way, how many players left here/wouldn’t play here because of the turf?  I seem to remember Glaus found he couldn’t play here.  Any others?   Those guys throw themselves around the field when they play, and the seams on the turf are really painful to land on and apparently the surface burns when you slide.  Add that to a foreign country and higher taxes and I can see why players would not want to come here whether we have a winning team or a losing team.

  38. Even as a joke the notion that Albert Martinez could become President isn’t a heartwarming one for Jays fans. That would be a disaster.

  39. When you think about it, Stoeten is pretty Hipster

    - Belonging to random indy band – check
    - Wearing tattered Vintage Clothes – check
    - Unwarranted sense of self importance – check

    There you have it.

  40. That’s my POINT … where do you put the tray of grass? How do you transport it out of a structure without the door? There are not open parking areas outside of the skydome …

  41. You didn’t need to point it out. You pointed it our because you wanted attention. You’re a social retard, as I stated.

  42. Solution for the grass problem?  Worlds largest hydroponic system.  Put some other ‘crops’ in there and you’ve got a great new revenue stream that can be used on the free agents who obviously will be lining up to come here.

    Everyone’s happy.

  43. It was a great move by the PR department imo. They know that a lot of fans spend time on sites like these above and beyond what they spend on the general sports sites like ESPN.

    Publishers have been doing it for a few years now when it comes to books. Certain bloggers are almost treated as royalty by publishers because of all the free publicity they get from them. All it costs the publisher is a free copy of their books.

  44. I’d agree with that.  It’s not as much about contention, nice as that would be, so much as the idea that there’s a lot of core talent at the MLB level that still needs to prove itself.  With guys like Lawrie, Rasmus, Snider, Thames, JPA, Morrow, Alvarez, Drabek, McGowan, and even guys like Cecil, Lind, and Cooper, the team’s at a stage where the win total and the development of talent goes hand in hand.  As much attention as the farm system gets, it’s really the development of the guys at the highest level this year which will give us a good indication of where we stand.

  45. Seems you have this mixed up. I pointed it out because I didn’t see the need for anybody to shit on Roy Halladay. It is a blog, after all. If somebody wants to respond to my comments, that isn’t up to me but I certainly always welcome intelligent debate.

    You, on the other hand, didn’t actually make a point. You instead chose to verbally attack somebody out of the blue nearly half a day after the original posts in question. I think it’s quite clear who the pathetic douche that needs attention is here.

  46. What’s so “hipster” about a denim jacket? Also, I haven’t heard from the Jays even though they charged my Visa for my Star Pass – anyone else in the same boat? 

  47. They spent enough to get above the MLB average for one year. Was it Beeston’s $120M claim or anywhere near what the team is capable of? Of course not.

  48. The problem with Beeston is that he spends half of these events talking about how the Jays will spend money when they are on the verge of contention, but spends the other half talking about how close the Jays actually are to contending. 

    I think we’re all used to the double-talk by now, though. It’s kind of his job.

  49. Exactly. No meaningful analysis of the datastream emerging from his mouth can be performed because the datastream contains no actual information. It is a highly elaborate form of white noise. Definitely part of his job. Elaborate noise… that cannot be easy.

  50. You see, my point was that everyone that has any sense knew it was a dig for the sake of a dig. It didn’t need to be disproven by your points and facts. It was a waste of space and a byproduct of you trying to look intelligent.

  51. As I said last night, I knew it was a dig for the sake of a dig (anybody with a basic understanding of statistics knows that Dave Stieb wasn’t anywhere near the quality of Roy Halladay as a pitcher). What I didn’t understand was why such a dig was necessary. Halladay did everything this organization asked of him and more…why bother insulting the guy at all?

    The real waste of space here is the crap I’ve had to read from you since you entered yourself into a discussion that had long since ended for the sole purpose of being a dipshit. Sure, it’s been great hearing your amusing theories about the reasons why I post what I post, but perhaps you’d be better served by some serious introspection instead.

  52. He’s pretty good at his job, too. You can tell by how many people willingly accept just about everything he has to say.

  53. Couldn’t the Jays acquire one of the lottery picks in a trade in the new system?

  54. You just keep patting yourself on the back. You’re annoying. I told you as much. Conversation over.

  55. There wouldn’t have ever been a conversation if you didn’t feel the need to be a prick. Get going on that introspection.

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