‘Tis the season for hyping up the… er… season, which means that this week we’ve seen Alex Anthopoulos in all sorts of fun and interesting places that the Jays GM doesn’t normally venture. Or, at least, two fun and interesting places: speaking with Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler on the Sportsnet telecast of Tuesday night’s game, and on the CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

You can watch the Strombo stuff at Strombo.com, on YouTube, or at the bottom of this post. And if you’re cool like that and have MLB.TV, you’ll be able to find AA’s interview buried with Sportsnet’s broadcast during the bottom of the second inning.

Of course, if you’d rather not sift through to find the nuggets, I’ve taken the trouble of transcribing a shit-tonne of highlights from a couple of interesting, and more-revealing-than-usual chats…

Sportsnet

With Kyle Drabek on the mound, the conversation began with a focus on the club’s hopefully-emerging starter. Anthopoulos says he was impressed with the work he put in over the winter, and the results he’s had throwing his curveball for strikes this year. He said that all spring he’d stare at him before games and say, “two-seamer, curveball, changeup”– meaning he wants him to get away from throwing the cutter and the four-seamer. “The two-seamer’s got as much velocity as the four-seamer, and it allows him to keep the ball down– he gets a tonne of ground balls.” He adds that “he’s not there yet all the way, but he’s starting to get there slowly.”

As for who might get the call behind Drabek, Anthopoulos reveals that “the depth is going to come from” New Hampshire. “We’ve elected to go with talent, and let those guys develop up here at times. Hopefully they all turn out as well as a guy like Alvarez did last year.” He adds, as Drew Hutchison’s ears burn, that “the guys who throw strikes will normally be the guys that survive here.”

With Alvarez last year there was still some development that could have occurred in the minors, Anthopoulos tells us, but “there was enough there that he could come up and help the team win and still not impact his long-term growth.” This seems to be the approach they’ll be taking with guys like Hutchison, McGuire, Jenkins, and perhaps Carreno– if he’s even considered among that group.

“Once they get to New Hampshire, if they start to perform, the needs of the big league team start to matter,” the GM explains. They won’t be shy to promote their crew of Double-A arms, unless they feel that it will impact their development to bring them up too soon.

Asked who in particular caught his eye, on the pitching side, during Spring Training, Anthopoulos quickly points to lefty-specialist Evan Crawford. “He was even better than I though,” Alex says. “I was very impressed and very excited by him. I didn’t know he had a slider the way he did, his curve ball is outstanding, he just pitched last night and was up to 94– he doesn’t sit there, but this is a guy who has a chance to be a long-term piece for us and a real impact guy.”

It wouldn’t be the first time he rather generously used the word “impact.” I mean, it’s not like the GM isn’t going to put a positive shine on things– which isn’t to say that Crawford couldn’t most definitely be a useful bullpen piece.

Asked about the pitchers at Lansing, Anthopoulos says that “they all look really good.” He notes that Sanchez hit 98 on Monday night, that Nicolino was throwing no-hit innings, and that Andrew Tinnish and his staff may have found the club “three real high-ceiling impact guys” in the 2010 draft. “We’re going to take our time with them,” he adds.

And then he says something kind of different, when speaking of position players. “You get to the Florida State League, you can end the year in New Hampshire,” he says of Dunedin outfielders Jake Marisnick, Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht. “Those guys could be in camp with us next year, and they’re right there. They could move fast enough that they’re only a year away.” (Note: Really? Nails!)

After some standard fare talk about the off-season (“We had chances to get some starters. Some were lower-end guys– the higher-end guys the price was just too high and we would have had to pull away from some of our starters up here.”), he addresses what the Jays are going to do with the fifth starter’s spot, which is empty since Joel Carreno’s demotion, and comes up again April 21st.

“We have some ideas,” he says, making it sound clearly like Joel Carreno isn’t simply going to be handed the opportunity again, despite being not terrible in his MLB debut as a starter. “We’re going to watch a few starts on some of the guys down there, but we do have guys who we have a strong eye on for that start. But it’s going to vary on how those guys do in the next ten days or so.”

Regarding some day-to-day stuff, he says of the club’s early season hitting struggles that ”Obviously there’s some things you look at. If it goes on for a few weeks, I might have more concenrs, but it’s still too early.” And of Sergio Santos, he assures us that ”He’s got great stuff. I’ll go to war with that stuff any day.”

“In the Indians series, I thought he had great at-bats, great swings, hard contact,” he says of Colby Rasmus. “I wasn’t worried. I know people were. If it was bad swings, bad mechanics– I thought it looked good, so I wasn’t worried there.” He adds that “his swing is so much better than it was last year, with the leg lift, his approach, I thought he hit some balls really, really hard.”

Miscellaneously, he called last year’s outfield defence “bad,” and with a straight face calls it improved, even though Eric Thames and Jose Bautista were there much of the year, and are back. And speaking of in-season transactions, he says that he tries “to be early rather than late, if you can be, just from a trade standpoint.” So stay on your toes, I guess!

 

Strombo

Peering straight into the soul of cynical bloggers, Anthopoulos responds to a question about clubhouse dynamic– and Jose Bautista in particular– by explaining that “Even early on in my career I was a little bit like, it’s Talent Talent Talent, and the way someone is in the clubhouse, it’s overrated– this and that. Over the years I’ve seen that, y’know, it’s really important. You can’t quantify it. And a guy like Bautista– I don’t think I’m ever going to have as good a player, as a GM, in my lifetime. He’s a rare breed, in terms of everything he brings. He’s a freak in every good way that I can say.”

Most interestingly– or perhaps just most-awesomely, he absolutely slays the Jays shitty old uniforms.

“It’s huge,” he says of the jump in merchandise sales since the logo switch. “It’s great, and it’s awesome– just to see last night, the logo, the new gear. I wasn’t a fan of the older ones. It was brutal. And I couldn’t say it when we had them, but I hated the old uniform– the twitter (?), the teal. Awww… it was brutal. Awful. It was embarrassing!”

Things then turned to the fairly standard topic of Colby Rasmus, and we actually heard something interesting.

“I think the expectations when he came in were huge, because he’s a young player with a tonne of ceiling,” Anthopoulos says, trying to put his finger on why the fans and the media have been so savage towards him. “If you look at the last two months with the Cardinals before he came to us, I think he hit .140 there. We saw some things in his swing mechanics before we acquired him that we had major concerns with, but we felt– you know what? This is a guy who’s gone through a lot in St. Louis, this isn’t the time to try to make some of those changes, we’re just going to let him play.”

Anthopoulos likened the poor spring stats Rasmus had this year to what JP Arencibia did last year. As he did on the broadcast, he said that “he didn’t have a very good spring, in terms of the stats, but his at-bats were outstanding. I thought he hit the ball hard a lot.”

As you may have noticed, I’m hopeful on Rasmus. And while I think it must have been tough to watch him wither at the end of last season– and certainly contributed to the moronic vitriol spewing forth from so many fans and clueless media hacks in his direction– it sounds like the Jays suffered the short-term pain, in the hopes of long-term gain. Makes sense.

And lastly, more sensible stuff– at least from Anthopoulos, who, in speaking about the trouble that high expectations can bring on young players like Rasmus and Travis Snider, lays on us that ”when Brett Lawrie came up, I think the second or third day in, we had a big ad in the Toronto Star with Brett Lawrie in it. I just went to Paul Beeston, I said, ‘Paul, could we just chill out on this? Could we just relax?’ And, he’s great and he’s talent, but I’d rather guys make an All-Star team or do some things first.”

Someone maybe should pass that along whoever was in the booth during the Sportsnet telecast Anthopoulos appeared on– you know, the guy who thought it was a great idea to give the mouth-breathers 15 red meat replays of Lawrie running full-steam into the wall trying to make a catch. Stop encouraging it!!!!

Here’s the Strombo segment, as well as the web-exclusive clip that includes the comments about Rasmus and Brett Lawrie (which was actually related to a question about Travis Snider, who– shock!– Alex still believes can be a great player for the Jays)… 

Comments (42)

  1. Love, love, love him shitting on the previous unis.

  2. AA was referring to the bird looking like the bird on the Twitter logo.

  3. with votto in cincinnati until the end of time, is justin morneau another possibility? the guy’s only 30, only making 14m this year and next…

    • Please be sarcasm.

    • Wow, that is some scary ass humour

    • Maybe if it was Morneau for Lind with the Twins eating the difference in their respective contracts…after Morneau demonstrates a certain level of health & production for a couple of months and Lind continues to demonstrate shittiness…maybe, just maybe…

      • i’d roll the dice on morneau… if he puts together a couple of decent months.

        adam lind hasn’t exactly set the bar high…. and you could play EE 1B if required.

  4. it’s your posts like this that make me put up with all the rest of the fliff. nice stoets

  5. Rasmus needs to disconnect his hands and torso. Right now with his hands laying on his shoulders he is loading and unloading his hands/hips/torso together. This robs him of torque- creating bat speed and causes him to hook everything as the angle of the bat coming through the zone matches his hip rotation. Colby, GET YOUR BAT OFF YOUR SHOULDER and up and back like Jose!!!!! You will get max Hip/Hand Separation and torque and absolutely crush the ball because you have an amazing calm mental approach.

  6. So who is Crawford being dangled to?

    I love that we borrowed a page from the Yankee$ and Red Sux on the internal hype on prospects to MSM.

  7. Nice to hear some Expo talk, I miss them. The “M” on the Expo logo stood for (3 words)?

  8. Thought you’d never ask. Well its Montreal Expo’s Baseball

  9. So Lind turns 29 in July, the age Overbay was when we got him. Although Lind has put up a year better than anything Overbay has ever done in 2009, Overbay has 6 seasons better than Lind’s 2nd best season. Low OBP first basemen are a useless commodity in baseball.

  10. Great read here man. I heard today Zaun and McCown were shitting on Rasmus again. I seriosuly do not fucking understand it. I’m going to have to call in I think and straight up ask that douchebag sunglasses inside wearing fuck what his problem is? It makes no sense to keep ripping on Rasmus, before the season and now only 6 games in. Alex should call him and say listen man, you don’t know shit about baseball, this is what’s what, stop fucking getting on my boy. Talking about a player is one thing, but it seems like eevery fucking day this asshole is on Rasmus. FUCK.

    • “They’re a lot further away from being there. If they think they’re going to go the player development route, they either need new scouts or new player development people, because the guys they have coming to the big leagues are not getting it done.”
      –Gregg Zaun

      Yep. Gregg Zaun & Bob McCown.
      Two dipshits whose opinions aren’t worth a squirt of fucking piss.

      • Can someone clarify if this is true?.. This can’t be true.

      • Yes Zaun did say this when talking about how the Jay’s should get Prince Fielder, because player development is just not going to work, Zaun is a goon.

    • Really? A couple days ago Zaun was raving about Rasmus and admitting he was wrong about him over the winter. Doesn’t surprise me though.

  11. He meant to say “Tillde” (not twitter) and had a slip of the tongue. The old “T” logo was essentially a tilde on a stick. He certainly wasn’t referencing the twitter bird logo.

  12. I really felt bad for AA watching that Strombo interview, he looked like he was going to choke up watching that clip of the last Expos out

  13. One thing about AA, he can speak much but say very little.

  14. hey Stoeten! i’m so glad you have mlbTV. this will be useful in correcting your inept analysis of the santos save in which you “nitpicked” at his use of his slider and your precieved loss of confidence in his fastball.

    if you listen to the jays feed pat tabler you will hear pat tabler say how the steady diet of off speed stuff is the the “book” on Youkilis and that Santos executed the plan . but hold on, this is the home town colour analyst right, it’s in the interest the rogers sportsnet team to boost the santos brand in a positive light to keep their content shiny for 162. ok a fair point, although i wouldn’t question tabby’s integrity to his face, he may go Hamilton Ohio on your ass.

    so let’s go to the NESN feed, use that fancy mlbTV you got and boot it up brother. listen to what the rem dawg (yes, that’s how i saw it spelt on weei today) said about the santos/Youkilis at bat. keep in mind that this color analyst (see what i did there) who is also a former player like tabler, and that he has seen probably every Youkilis at bat (minus the odd flu like symptoms day off for the drunk dawg). and when you hear it, pay special attention to the awe in his voice as he describes santos setting up Youkilis by throwing a fastball away to get him on the slider.

    not good enough for you, you may have been hanging around parkes a bit too much with your humility nowhere to be found, but i will give you an additional voyage into the final 2 pitches of this incredibly impressive outing by santos that you just didn’t get.

    in the ortiz at bat santos started him off with a slider down and in out of the zone. then, he marked a fastball (which was a strike, you can use that mlbTV magical pitch fx thingie of which you are so proud to confirm) at a location of which if it was a slider would have broken right into ortiz’s happy place (fyi left handed power hitters love the ball down and in), but instead, at 95 mph induced a weak ground ball where, magically, the defence was as the jays chose not to implement the shift (to discourage a base runner late in the game of course). so, um, santos delivered the goods once again.

    so i’m sorry if i’m nitpicking, but i sincerely hope you do realize that your analysis was, well, i’ll spare you the mean adjective.

    so if you are not sure of what you speak, don’t speak it, or at least have the decency to frame it as a question. ” is santos shying away from his fastball until he regains confidence in his fastball?” = no mean comment from the FamousAmazingGuy. and please, please, please, don’t get the inane parkes mantra in your head of “well i’m a blogger, and i can say anything i want” bologna in your head, your better than that.

    now, i took the time to write this not because i’m some angry guy on the internet who has nothing else to do, but rather, because i like this site, and for the most part enjoy your work. yet i have a sneaking suspicion that this egg that you laid, and the others as of late may be due to the fact that your new gig at the score is probably demanding a certain amount of words or posts from you every day.

    “mailing it in” may be a wonderful inside joke amongst your fellow bloggers, but i invite you to think about the following, the richard griffins, bob elliots and marty yorks of the world didn’t become terrible at what they do over night. they were created over time, and what fed their terrribleness is the fact that they had to fill a cloumn and a deadline. in time they found that they could conveniently see an angle, and beat the hell out of that pony until she could go no more (remember the bob mccown jose molina trumpet that made zero sense this off season?)just to fill space. it’s easy to do, and it breeds some serious mediocrity. you have been lucky enough to hone you craft in a time and forum where you could do your thing as a writer at your own pace and mature without the dead line and space between advertisements screwing you up too much, don’t start f’ing with it now.

    comb your beard, and be golden stoetenboy.

    book it!

    • It was right here “if you listen to the jays feed pat tabler” that I knew you were trolling and I stopped reading,

    • So what you are saying re the Ortiz at-bat is that Santos wanted to go down 1-0, with 2 outs, and runners on 2 and 3 in a 2 run game, in the ninth, start pitching from behind? um…..

      • yes. it’s called setting up a dangerous hitter by teasing him with a pitch close to where he wants it but in a spot where he ca’t do anything with it, then following with a pitch that he thinks is going to go to the spot where he wants it but it doesn’t break so by then the bat has started and the hope it that you’ll get bad contact.

  15. Look folks…this season comes down to three things….three things that will determine whether there is actually a shot at the playoffs or not

    those are..

    LF, C, 1B

    thats right..im not actually that worried about the starting pitching.. I think it will be good enough to get games to a very strong pen most games. if you want to say we dont even know who our fifth starter is…fair enough..but almost all teams either dont really know who theirs is OR they have one and he sucks.

    LF….thames/snider (call it Thider)…this position has to at least be average…..we cant hemorrhage offense at such an offensively loaded position league wide..if we can just hang close…this is an easy position to address with a stop gap come trade deadline.

    ib…Lind has to come up with something better than he has the last couple of years…if not…fuck…give cooper a shot..no, he’s not a long term answer but i bet he can put up an obp over 300

    c…JP needs to improve both on defense and his ability to not make outs…im not sold on either one of those potentials for him….travis D is not coming up before sepetember so likely its JP or die

    • A vast majority of Toronto sport fans are retarded! How can you not be excited about the team. Great D, tons of young arms, and power 1 thru 9. Everyone is all over JP and Rasmus for a slow start, everyone does realize we are talking about the 8 and 9 hitter, both with 20 HR power, and if anyone has watched the games, our CF plays great D and again, this is the bottom of the order. Can someone explain to me why Toronto sports fans hate the talented guy who makes the game looks but loves the no talent hack who tries really hard?? Maybe we should trade Rasmus for Reed Johnson. Note to Toronto sports fans the Reed Johnson’s and JYD’s of the world don’t win Championships.

    • Don’t want to piss all over your analysis General but let’s remember that the Jays are 6 games into the season.

      The Jays won’t call up Snider anytime soon, unless there is a trade or injury at the big club level. AA seems pretty secure in having Thames in there for the time being.

      d’Arnaud is nowhere near ready to catch for a pitching staff that could be on the rise. JPA is all over d’Arnaud in terms of game calling and intangibles. JPA has also made some visible improvement with his play behind the plate. JPA doesn’t need to hit like an all-star. If he can draw some walks and hit the occasional bomb, his bat will play in the lineup. d’Arnaud has a stronger arm but scouts don’t rave about his defense in comparison to JPA. As for d’Arnaud’s bat, remember that he racked up those big numbers in double A ball. He’s yet to prove anything beyond that level.

      1B is an enigma that could be solved by using EE against tough lefties. Farrell was being crafty in resting Lind against Lester. I hope that he continues with this trend.

      Pitching is still the most important part of the game. You can’t have enough pitching. I suspect the Jays will sink or swim with how their starting rotation fares this season. Alvarez looks to be the real deal. And Drabek had a decent start against Boston. But its way to early to feel warm and fuzzy whenever these guys take the mound. What I do like about the Jays this season is how they are done fucking around with soft-tossing lefties (Jo Jo Reyes, Dana Eveland and now Brett Cecil). The next wave is approaching and one of them could play a key role as we play some baseball this summer.

      Pretty much every team in baseball has a few holes in the lineup and some questions regarding their pitching.

      The season is only 6 games old and the Jays are 4-2. That is fucking awesome. But its way too early to say that your 3 points are the key to the season.

      • Agreed pitching is going to make or break this team. If the Jays can score a similar amount of runs to last year then they should be fine if the pitching is improved. We’ve had 2 good starts from the starters 3-5 and even Carreno’s start wasn’t horrible. That needs to continue.

        Seeing what Morrow does tonight is important. Getting a run of a few good outings will show whether he has turned the corner or not.

  16. For those who use Chrome are their browser…. this is extension superfantasticallyawesome:

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ahkhhfdoiijgjejlepmlolomilmndoaa

    Simultaneous searches on BR, Fangraphs, Cots, Baseball Prospectus Minor League Splits, First Inning, And Stat Corner.

    • Firefox has a similar thing called Liquid Words. You can add your own searches to that as well. These kinds of extensions are really useful.

  17. The Greek Geek!

    Great work, Andrew.

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