Prior to tonight’s opening of MLB’s Rule 4 Draft– and the Jays’ charity golf tournament, which is happening today– Alex Anthopoulos jumped on the Fan 590′s airwaves and spoke to Jeff Sammut about draft strategy, and where Vladimir Guerrero is at, among other subjects. Obviously there’s not a whole lot that the GM could reveal about how tonight is going to go down, but that’s largely because he doesn’t know for sure himself.
“We kind of run these quasi-mock drafts,” he explains. “Then we’re looking at signability, because now at this point every one of the advisors and the families and the players have pretty much given an indication of what it will take to sign them. So, you start looking at it and you start to say, OK, well, is there a scenario where if we get a few of these selections, and we have to pay them, do we maybe take not as good a talent in the fourth round or in the eighth round and try to save some money there, so we can sign the picks up high? So, that’s all part of it. It’s the opportunity cost of the pick– is there one player who’s good enough to forgo taking not as good a talent a round a few rounds behind. So, that’s going to be part of the strategy that we’re going to talk about, but we’re going to have to obviously let the board play out as well.”
The impression given was that this was something that wasn’t focused on too heavily until late in the process, because it’s so dependent on who’s available at which pick. If we believe him, then, the club doesn’t appear to necessarily plan on maximizing the amount of dollars they can spend on early picks by punting ones later, rather, it’s going to come down to who’s available and how they think they can make the money fit.
As for which players he likes, “our philosophy is evolving,” he says, “because I always believe you should always go back and look and see the things we’ve done correctly and the things we’ve done wrong and why we’ve been wrong, and probably dwell on the mistakes that we make. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it’s just that’s how we’re going to improve.
He adds that “generally speaking,” we should expect “an even greater emphasis on athletes than we’ve had in the past, and probably maybe even a greater emphasis on athleticism when it comes to guys that pitch. It’s not the end-all be-all, but it’s something that we’ve started talking about a little bit more– athleticism on the mound.
“Makeup as well– I know everyone talks about it. It’s not so much, ‘Is this a good kid, would you have him marry your daughter?’ It’s baseball makeup, championship makeup, really a great burning desire to be great, and sometimes you have a little bit of– I won’t say a jerk, but for lack of a better word, someone who has a little bit of an edge isn’t a bad thing either when playing our game.”
He tempers that, though, by assuring us those aren’t exactly the primary concerns, explaining that “we’re still trying to find ceiling and guys who have a chance to be impact guys, especially in this division. And that means we’re going to draft some busts, but we’re going to try to swing for the home run as well.”
As for the insufferable notion of looking too closely at a player’s passport, Anthopoulos says that Paul Beeston always tells the guys in the front office, ”Don’t run a guy up the board because he’s Canadian, but don’t hold it against him as well.” He says that he was discussing a Canadian on the club’s draft board last night, and he asked his staff to assure him he wasn’t there just because of nationality.
Moving on, Sammut asks about Vladimir Guerrero, who Anthopoulos continues to temper expectations on . “The timing certainly isn’t there, yet,” he says, referring to his performances so far against the more-advanced competition in Las Vegas. “We really don’t have a timeline yet,” he adds.
Anthopoulos also later adds that if Edwin Encarnacion needs to miss time because of his , they’re not going to rush Vlad– the most important thing is getting his timing right, and Moises Sierra is probably ahead of him. “But that can change in four or five days,” he says.
Apparently that’s not a concern, though! Because Encarnacion, he tells us, will make the trip to Chicago with the club and, kind of amazingly, he’s actually expected to play tomorrow. “If he wakes up tomorrow and he’s still a little sore, we might give him a day, but we really dodged a bullet there and it looks like he’s going to be fine.”
Image via Call to the Pen.