At some point over the weekend Alex Anthopoulos held court with the throngs of media who’ve gathered in Dunedin for the spring ritual of all writing the exact same fucking story every day [Note: they've actually been doing better at this than in year's past, I think, despite what I'm about to write], and the Globe and Mail, National Post, MLB.com, Toronto Sun and others have got you covered with recaps of the GM’s comments.

Some highlights!

As far as the only real position battle in camp goes, at least among fielders not named McCoy, Vizquel and Valbuena, Anthopoulos reiterated comments from earlier in the winter that Eric Thames has the inside track on the left field job, because of his performance last year, and the fact that he finished the season with the job. However, the nobody will be handed the role, and they’re going to look less at spring stats, but quality of at-bats, as well as how Thames and Travis Snider play defence– something Thames was said to have worked hard on over the off-season.

He talked pure, unadulterated, 100% sense about Brett Lawrie, being quoted by the Globe thusly:

“I’m cautiously optimistic because I just know from experience with young players that they don’t always just hit the ground running and don’t stop. The league will have to adjust to him; he’ll have to adjust back. I think even his last 10 games or so before he got hurt, he started to chase a little bit more and so on, but at the same time he obviously was great. He was great when he came up and played for us – defensively, offensively, everything he brings, great teammate. And I thought the quality of his at-bats were outstanding. That being said, I don’t think it’s fair to take the stats he had last year and try to pro-rate them over 500 at-bats.”

He’s also got his head on straight when it comes to Brett Cecil– as he said that, while laying down the law with the 25-year-old isn’t exactly his style, but “I called him, beginning of November, and I just told him I thought he was at a crossroads in his career. His ability is such that he should be a part of this rotation, shouldn’t have to think about getting optioned and so on.” Anthopoulos predicted that Cecil would have “a big year.” Hey, he’s already won the Vernon Wells In the Best Shape of His Life Award (TM), amiright?

“I’m so proud and thrilled by the way he’s carried himself and handled himself. And I just think there has been a real change in his mind-set, his maturity. And I think his career has become a real priority for him,” Anthopoulos says, perhaps tellingly.

On the subject of Dustin McGowan, however, the GM sounds like he’s drinking a bit of the crazy sauce, explaining that “I’m probably as excited about him as I am about any of our starters.” McGowan is, of course, the guy coming off a three year absence, multiple shoulder surgeries, who walked 13 batters, gave up 20 hits and 15 runs in 21 innings at the end of last season. Twenty strikeouts and a 4.38 xFIP, though! [Note: not sarcasm. No, really.] “I know the numbers don’t look great,” he admits, “but I thought the stuff was outstanding.”

Speaking of nice stuff (as long as, y’know, we’re not talking about the elusive breaking ball), Henderson Alvarez! Anthopoulos expects he will have “a strong year,” mostly “because of his ability to throw strikes. Most times you get sent down because you can’t throw strikes [Note to Kyle Drabek], and one thing we know he’s going to bring is the ability to throw strikes and the ability to get ground balls.”

“We do need some things to break right and we do need help,” he said, adding a hefty dose of realism. “The depth that we do have is all kids, but kids with talent and ceiling and upside. From that standpoint, a year from now we could be talking about a rotation where we have too many guys, which is great. [Note: In-fucking-deed it is] It really changes that fast with the guys we have that would end up on the five-man and then the guys that are right behind them in New Hampshire.”

“Whether or not that depth allows us to translate into more wins remains to be seen,” he said– referring to not just pitchers on the fringe of the 25-man roster, but hitters as well– “but we would hope that the dropoff from our front-line guy to the guy that would be filling in would not be as drastic.”

On the offensive side of things, Anthopoulos says that the club “should be as strong if not stronger than it was last year, and it’s not really going to rely on one guy.” It’s something that gets overlooked by a lot of people ripping the club for a relatively quiet off-season. The mid-season additions of Lawrie, Rasmus, and Johnson will help immensely. And the potential coming-into-his-own of Encarnacion can’t hurt either.

“The fact that we started last season with a lot of right-handed bats was something we wanted to balance out,” Anthopoulos also points out. “Now we have a lot of left-handed bats, so we have a nice blend. Having the right-handed bats coming off the bench, John has some other options and it adds to that depth.”

“There’s upside to all the players,” he says. “But we don’t need everybody to have career years. We need everybody to just be solid and we’re going to have a very good team.”

“You look at the production you get out of centre field on average, I think you’re looking at a low to mid .700 OPS, that’s average across the board. He’s capable of that, no doubt about it and he’s capable of more. He’s done more,” the GM said of Colby Rasmus, as quoted by the Sun. “I know he went through a rough year getting traded, didn’t perform the way he hoped for. I think Yunel Escobar is a great example. Yunel played well right out of the chute, towards the end of the first year he didn’t play as well, but I noticed the following spring, Yunel just felt like he was finally at home and this was finally his team, and I expect Colby to be the same way. We know he has a world of talent and he can only move up from an ability standpoint and a performance standpoint from what he did last year.”

Perhaps most interestingly he said he was very curious about ol’ E5– and in particular, his versatility. “The fact that a guy like Edwin Encarnacion can play third, can play first and we’re going to find out how he does in the outfield during the spring. That’s something I’m really curious about in the spring. It allows us to go with a five-man outfield.”

Sure, why the hell not?

Comments (27)

  1. Pretty much how I would’ve handled the hired geeks, the season is pinned on the starting rotation developing. Interesting to not see any comments on Lind…

  2. Putting EE in LF would apply in interleague play on the road and when the team faces a tough LH starter.  Odds are EE is starting in LF 2-3 times at best.

  3. I just WISH someone would ask him some straight up questions about Lind. All the pussy-footing around all the time, someone should attempt some real journalism and ask a tough question.

  4.  Agreed especially considering they’ll most likely be carrying 2 extra righty bats for the outfield. It will be interesting to see if the temptation for more offense overwhelms the desire for decent defense.

  5. “The fact that we started last season with a lot of right-handed bats
    was something we wanted to balance out,” Anthopoulos also points out.
    “Now we have a lot of left-handed bats, so we have a nice blend. Having
    the right-handed bats coming off the bench, John has some other options
    and it adds to that depth.”

    Replace right-handed with shitty and left-handed with not so shitty, and you get the true meaning of that quote

  6. WAAAAAAAAAIT A MINUTE…

    A five-man outfield? As in, one of Thames/Snider, Rasmus, Bautista, Encarnacion, and then only one of Davis and Francisco. So if EE can play outfield, whither Ben Francisco? Since Davis can back up at CF and brings a different skill set than EE and Francisco, I’d have to assume he’s safe.

    Releasing Francisco means another way to keep Vizquel and one of McCoy/Valbuena.
    Bench would be Davis, Mathis, Vizquel, McCoy/Valbeuna. I can see that.

  7. What is the issue with Lind’s alleged wonky back?  Was it an issue last year or not?  Will it become an issue again this year?  The Jays are mum on this issue.

    It appears that there is a cloud following Lind and his tenure at 1B.  Lind has a decent team-friendly contract ($5M in 2012-$5M in 2013-$7M club option in 2014).  Could Lind become trade fodder if AA thinks that his bat no longer fits at 1B?  Much will depend on which version of Adam Lind shows up this season. 

  8. Exactly!

  9. E7

  10. No

  11. he’s not going to shit on Lind if he’s planing to flip him before the all star break. Better to just stay mum.

  12.  nice thought, but I really don’t think that’s what he’s saying. In a division like the AL ‘Beast’ you gotta be able to throw lefty righty combos, especially in the heart of the order.

  13. Lind will be gone soon enough I think.

  14. “We do need some things to break right and we do need help,”

    but, but, but…..I thought we didn’t need any breakout seasons or anything spectacular ?? Didn’t he just say that 2 days ago ?  If not AA then somebody did…

  15. You have just misquoted two parts of two different diatribes to suit your own purposes. You should be a journalist!

  16.  Wouldn’t be too soon…I don’t see them getting a quality 1B in return unless they really go ‘all in’ for somebody (but who’s available?) Cooper doesn’t have the replacement value, and EE is not a full time option. Maybe Joey Bats….but I’m not so sure they want to do that before they see what Lind does in the first half.

  17. What the hell are you talking about?

  18. I am having some reservations about seeing KJay batting 2nd.  He strikes out more than I adjust myself…..yeah, I know, thats a lot.

    I’d rather see Thames or Snider………granted Sniders get his Shatner together and takes more walks or/and Thames continues to hit and show discipline at the plate.

  19. What does his K rate matter? Sure, a large percentage of his outs are strike outs. Compared to Thames and Snider, a larger percentage of his plate appearances aren’t outs, which is exactly what you want in front on Bautista (which is a long winded way of saying OBP >> K % when evaluating batting order).

  20.  I would personally love to see someone get their Shatner together. Anyone, really.

  21.  ”The fact that a guy like Edwin Encarnacion can play third”

    When exactly did EE learn to play third?

  22. “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.”

    Red Forman, Star Trek VI, Wise man

  23. Great post…Nails.

  24. They should definitely ISSUE a statement on the ISSUE.

  25. Lind’s at the point where it doesnt matter who says what about him. It wont affect his trade value, which is below average to pretty shitty.

  26. Just a random observation but with the number of quality pitchers down on the farm, Mcgowan has to be be right behind Lind in terms of “last chance Saloon”.  The guy has always had great stuff, but finding the strike zone has always been a problem too. I’m hoping someone can tweak his delivery to fix that so he can take the next step. Otherwise he’s out of options.

  27. Thanks for issuing your thoughts on the issue.  Its an issue that has many wondering how to issue a solution :)

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