As you may have heard about in the previous post, Mike Wilner had some audio from yesterday’s post-game at Miked Up– as he’s rather awesomely been doing all spring. Turns out, it wasn’t entirely from Alex Anthopoulos. Starter Brandon Morrow and manager John Farrell spoke to the media as well, and here’s the gist of what they said, as well as all the non-Drew Hutchison stuff from the GM…
The manager felt that Brandon Morrow threw the ball well in the last three innings of his outing Thursday against the Philles– when he really started to establish his fastball, which makes his off-speed stuff that much more effective. Farrell suggests he’s taken the opportunity this spring to go out there and “pitch,” rather than just throw the ball, as he’s done in the past.
“It’s very positive that he’s not relying on just sheer power, with a hard fastball and a hard cutter,” the manager said of Morrow’s spring. “He’s disrupted some hitters’ timings, and when he’s able to get some guys out front, that’s when he’s able to get a two- or three-pitch out, which is what we’re looking for to get deeper into ballgames.”
To the fact that for the second game in a row he’d moved Kelly Johnson into the leadoff spot, with incumbent leadoff man Yunel Escobar hitting second, Farrell simply said he was “taking a look.” He added that he felt that Escobar can use the whole field, and has “the ability to hit the hole” a little more [no, you turn six], while Johnson is more of a dead pull hitter. In other words, with a runner on he likes Escobar’s ability to get the ball through infielders playing at double play depth, plus the advantage he can provide on a hit and run.
Asked about his fastball Morrow said that he felt he’d lost it in the second inning for a couple of hitters, but was otherwise pretty good on a day that saw him give up just one hit and two walks, striking out only one. He adds that he was missing with everything for those couple of batters, but maintains he felt good about the rest of the performance, which WIlner notes encompassed just 58 pitches through five innings– a good number for a starter who struggled to go deep enough last season, despite throwing just 32 strikes. Morrow went to the bullpen for 15 more pitches, just to get his pitch count to where it needed to be.
On Farrell’s notion of his becoming more of a pitcher than a mere thrower, Morrow agreed. “I’m thinking through at-bats and watching the way they’re reacting to the balls, and calling a little bit of my own game– shaking the pitches,” Morrow said.
The GM began his talk with the assembled reporters– which we miss part of, as Wilner needed to switch tapes mid-scrum– by explaining that there is no set date by which the club wants to have its position battles set– beyond, y’know, Opening Day… though, as John Lott surmised in a great piece in Wednesday’s National Post, in left field it’s a battle that might linger through the season.
Once they make the decision, he adds, they’ll tell the players– speaking specifically, as Richard Griffin notes for the Toronto Star, of Omar Vizquel’s quest to make the club as a backup infielder.
After a bit of stuff about Drew Hutchison *COUGH*, Anthopoulos was asked if he envisioned any sort of major changes before the end of camp, the way that Jose Bautista suddenly moved to right field, as Edwin Encarnacion was given the job as Opening Day third baseman.
He said their wasn’t, but then the typically tight-lipped GM just couldn’t help himself from expanding on one tiny sliver of light left open.
“There’s always a chance, in the last week, last two- three days, that a trade could come up. I don’t see us doing anything, we’re not actively talking to anybody, but when teams are starting to make their cuts, and out-of-option guys are available, maybe someone becomes available.”
He points out that the club picked up Jayson Nix and Fred Lewis in that way each of the last two springs. And hey! Maybe they’ll need to fill a roster spot when they finally get rid of the utterly redundant Ben Francisco!
Speaking of the outfield, Anthopoulos is then asked of the fucking asinine possibility of both Travis Snider and Eric Thames coming north with the club, with Snider playing every day in centre.
“Zero chance,” Anthopoulos says. “Not even a scenario.”
And I’m reminded of a tweet I received from @fontcrimes after I posted about Adam Lind’s awfulness over the last two years, which wondered how in the fuck Adam Lind gets such a free pass with the local media, while Colby Rasmus is projected as some eternally-loafing hayseed question-mark.
This tangent deserves a full post, I’m extremely sure– especially after hayseed Lind essentially openly pissed and moaned this spring about the 15 to 20 minutes of working out needed to maintain his conditioning and not turn into an utter shitbag like he did last year– but fucking motherfucking seriously.
Lind’s magical 3.7 fWAR, 139 wRC+ season is two years in the rearview, while Rasmus put up 129 wRC+ and 4.3 fWAR in twenty-goddamn-ten! Rasmus has been worth 7.9 fWAR over 420 [note: ha!] career games, while Lind’s accumulated 4.3 wins in 621. Granted, Rasmus gets a lot of value from being above average defensively in centre– something too many media dildos are real quick to ignore– but his career wRC+ is 103 to Lind’s 104. And yet the people pining for David Cooper are where, exactly? Christ!!!
Anywho… Anthopoulos went on, saying that the club believes there’s “still more there” in Edwin Encarnacion, who will get more at-bats– and is still young, at just 29. Doesn’t hurt that his contract provides a lot of value, either.
As for the battle at the back of the rotation, Anthopoulos claim that Kyle Drabek and Aaron Laffey are still pushing for rotation spots. “That’s why there still here,” he says.
“Kyle’s made tremendous strides,” he adds. “He’s getting better each time out.”
“As the fifth starter,” he says, referring to Dustin McGowan and the possibility of him missing an early-season start for the health of his arm, “you could stay back a little longer, because of the off-day.”
With McGowan, and his lack of options, in mind, Anthopoulos addressed the possibility of Drabek not making the team, saying with a sigh that “Las Vegas is where he’d be.” He noted, however, that the club has discussed sending guys elsewhere. Oh, what a great situation that is.
Wilner then asks about Adam Lind– acknowledging, that he’s been one of the worst qualified hitters in baseball over the last two years, but maintaining he hasn’t been one of the absolute worst, as long as you include enough guys who were thought of little-enough to be given only handfuls of at-bats– who Anthopoulos says he believes in, because “the talent is there,” because “he’s always hit,” and because of his strong first half in 2011.
He adds that the lineup could evolve over the course of the year.
So… there’s at least that. (And also– let’s be clear– the possibility that Lind’s two years in the wilderness really are because of… whatever the fuck they’re claiming. He has shown he can hit. I just don’t, y’know, quite grasp how a bad back makes you inclined to flail away at breaking balls way too fucking much. But hey, that’s just me.)