Alex Anthopoulos spoke with TSN Radio host Mike Richards (above, bro) earlier today (audio here), and guess what? The Jays need pitching, and their GM is damn ready to do something about it, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

So… it’s pretty much par for the course for AA, ca. fall 2012, but that doesn’t mean that the GM’s comments aren’t worth exploring, as he touched on off-season plans, gave the same explanation of how the club’s payroll works as he always does, spoke about the troubles with Adam Lind and Ricky Romero, and pretty much avoided saying anything concrete about the John Farrell speculation, as you’d kind of expect.

He did explain, however, that the Farrell stuff is “similar to trade stuff, where you’re reading things and 99.9% of everything you read is totally false. But it does make for interesting water cooler talk, and things like that.”

Trying to downplay it all through generalizations, he added that “we get asked about our employees all the time. We’ve already been asked about a few of our employees for promotions and so on– we’ve already had some leave for promotions– and those are good things. It’s tough to lose good employees,” he says, but it’s “a compliment to the organization when anyone has anything good to say about any of your employees.”

OK, then. Moving along!

Speaking about the off-season, the GM is eager to get going, explaining that the front office “had a meeting this past week, just with respect to free agency, and also trade scenarios. There’s no doubt about it, the first domino to fall for us is to add to the starting rotation. We have needs beyond that, but it starts there, and if that does not get done, we’re not going to go anywhere. So that’s got to get done, one way or the other. We’ve looked pretty hard at the free agents– we’ve done some comparisons and so on– we’ve tried to see where we might line up with teams in terms of trades, and who might be available. There’s a few names that are out there that are available that aren’t out in the mainstream media– because obviously clubs want to keep that quiet. So, that’s really the first thing that we’re going to try to get done fast– if we can be aggressive, and get one starter in some capacity early, that would be great. You can’t dictate the time frame, but we’re definitely going to try to move fast.”

It makes total, sense, obviously. Adding to the roster early will only increase the club’s viability as a free agent destination, and any kind of movement in that direction is going to help, with the Red Sox able to spend freely and the Orioles a viable destination, it’s not like the Jays can approach free agent shopping like it’s a grocery store, the way a lot of fans want to assume.

And it’s not like Rogers has entirely removed the shackles from Anthopoulos, as far as payroll is concerned, either.

“Having more money does not equal more winning– you can go through the thirty clubs now and see that there’s some big payrolls that didn’t get in the playoffs, or got eliminated,” he explains. “And obviously there’s teams [in the playoffs] now that have larger payrolls, but you have to spend it correctly and spend it wisely. There’s a lot of examples of teams that have spent, and they haven’t spent it correctly. From our standpoint, in terms of payroll and what I have to work with, I’m normally given a number– an area– to kind of stay within, and if I need to go beyond that number, or if I have a request, it’s something I talk to Paul Beeston with first. I’ll talk to him about it, I’ll explain why, I’ll talk to him about the player, how it would fit, how it would impact us from a payroll standpoint, and then– from my understanding– he would talk to Nadir Mohamed and Keith Pelley and explain all of that, and we would go from there.”

So… what we’ve always heard, I guess.

As for Romero and Lind, we’re told that there were “never had any serious discussions about” sending Romero to Las Vegas the way they did Adam Lind. That’s because Ricky’s “mindset didn’t change, his work ethic didn’t change. He could have easily felt sorry for himself and stopped working and threw up the white flag and quit, or try to come up with some excuses to not pitch. He took the ball every day, didn’t want out of the rotation, continued to work hard.”

Lind, on the other hand, was demoted “after he had two seasons where he didn’t perform as well as we thought he could. And then he got off to an incredibly slow start, and then you could even see from mentality and his mindset that he was completely lost. I think he lost a little bit of his fight, and he needed to just get away from it and regroup. He was hearing about it all the time– media, fans– and it just became a little bit overwhelming. With Romero, I don’t think it was even close to the same thing.”

Hmm. I wonder which of the two is more likely to be back– even though I think it could be argued that Lind most certainly ended his season on a more positive note. Which isn’t to say that I’d want him back in any capacity but as a last resort left-hitting side of a 1B or DH platoon, it’s just… interesting.

“Ultimately,” Anthopoulos says of Romero, “we have to find a way to get him back in the strike zone.” He adds, “Right now it’s a lot of trial and error– we’re looking at all kinds of things. We did it during the year,” while admitting that the club really doesn’t have a good answer for their Opening Day starter’s troubles.

But hey, at least there are more starters available than we supposedly know about! And… y’know… all that other stuff Anthopoulos always says!

Comments (50)

  1. “We have needs beyond that, but it starts there, and if that does not get done, we’re not going to go anywhere. So that’s got to get done, one way or the other.”

    I guess he can’t make it any clearer than that. I imagine he’s passed that up the line to Beeston and Co. as well.

    I find it interesting that he’s stating it so publicly even though it’s been so obvious to everyone. Come spring training if he hasn’t upgraded things substantially then that quote is certainly going to be thrown back in his face by every reporter he speaks too.

    I still get nervous when I hear the payroll talk. It’s so hard to have to put your trust in an ownership group that’s spent below average amounts for the last decade and hope they’ll finally reverse their ways.

  2. Dear AA,
    If u could please bring us Tim Lincecum it would be great! I know wishful thinking…but he had a down year and last I checked had 3-4 pitchers starting ahead of him while he was relegated to the pen…

  3. I thought this part was kind of interesting (starred the interesting piece):

    ” I’ll talk to him about it, I’ll explain why, I’ll talk to him about the player, how it would fit, how it would impact us from a payroll standpoint, and then– ***from my understanding***– he would talk to Nadir Mohamed and Keith Pelley and explain all of that, and we would go from there.”

    Now, its entirely possible that that’s just “AA speak”, in that he seems to couch every single statement he makes, but that would seem to suggest he hasn’t actually asked for money yet, if he’s not sure about the process. Or I’m reading into it too closely.

    • I think with the rise in TV money revenues and what we saw with the ratings before things fell off the cliff Rogers has got to be smart enough to see that continually putting out an inferior product isn’t in their best interests. They don’t have the luxury of being the Leafs where revenues are going to be consistent whether the team is shit or great.

      They’ve spent below average for all but one of the years they’ve owned the team and that year (2008) where they weren’t, was barely above average (6th in the AL). They have a developmental gap facing them with their prospects and additional wholes because of injuries. Lack of spending on their part definitely isn’t going to maximize their returns on the Jays.

      • +1

        It will be interesting to see how much extra money he has to work with.

        Would he be more reluctant to overpay in terms of prospects or dollars?

        Does he get in trouble if the prospects he trades go on to have great performance elsewhere?

        Does he get in trouble if he signs marcum for 30 million then marcum underperformed??

        • Personally I think fans would be far more pissed off if he were to trade away a player who turns out to be a star than overpaying for a player who ultimately underperforms. Rogers bean counters might look at things differently of course. From my point of view the one who got away always hurts a bit more.
          At least with an underperforming player you’ll get something out of him unless he doesn’t play due to injury.

          • Interesting argument. If i recall my Jays history, are fans outraged that Michael Young ( texas), Carpenter( St louis) etc have had successful carees elsewhere.

            From a beancounter perspective( accountant), DFA’ing BJ Ryan for 15 milllion in 2009 hurts more than letting Travis snider be traded to Pittsburgh.

            I could always rationalize trading a prospect for MLB ready talent.

      • The last time I saw the ratings they had gone from +15% YOY to +7%, so the decline in the team’s performance did have an effect on ratings.

        Also, Rogers must know how many tickets for August & September were pre bought earlier in the season.

        They know what effect a “walk up ” crowd would have.

        The marketing campaign centered around Lawrie,Bautista , & Romero needs to be retooled due to the disapointing performance/injury of all 3 key players.

    • It’s possible, but I don’t know about that. I suspect it’s more that he just didn’t want to speak to a process in which he’s not involved, but you could be right, I suppose. I mean, the most expensive free agents they’ve signed since Frank Thomas have been David Eckstein and Darren Oliver, so… it’s not like there’s a lot of evidence of money being asked about.

      • Do you think he’s afraid to make a mistake on the money front? He’s traded lots of minor leaguers already, so I don’t think he’s too reluctant on that front (though in the case of Gio Gonzalez, where he was asked to trade 4 or 5 insane pieces, he was right to say no), so is the fear that he doesn’t want to fall into the JP Ricciardi category of trying to spend the problems away?

    • Allisauce I was just coming on to post exactly that. ‘My understanding of the process’='I haven’t actually ever asked for more money and I’m not sure what would happen if I did.’

      I guess we’ll find out this off-season. If they spend their time dumpster-diving or not.

    • you have to think he’d have at least ASKED about Darvish last year, no?

      • It’s very clear that AA did not have a mandate to spend 100 million on Darvish.

        AA knew it would cost at least 50 million to bid for darvish plus 60 million or so to sign him.

        No way AA would risk his reputation on a japanese pitcher.

        I doubt he would risk 100 million on Fielder, if Fielder would have agreed to a 4 year at 25 million contract.

  4. I fully agree with AA’s strike early philosophy. Which likely means the trade route.

    If LAA is actually planning on buying out Dan Haren, I’d love to see AA offer some marginal arms (i.e. Beck, Carreno) for Haren which would save LAA $3.5 mil to reinvest in other areas.

    To me, it’s worth the potential on a one year commitment because the chances of getting a guy like Haren in free agency seem slim.

    By the same token, I’d offer the same type of marginal package to eat the $20 mil remaining on Roy Halladay’s contract, though that’s a much more complex situation with the NTC.

    Melky Cabrera & Marco Scutaro are two other guys who I’d have no qualms about “overpaying” on short term deals.

    I’d like to see the Jays spend $120 mil even if it’s a bunch of short term commitments for mid-level players.

    • I am definitely in favour of them taking a gamble on someone like Cabrera especially now that he’s tarnished and might come at a discount. I’d love to see him hitting in front of Jose and EE in the 2 hole.

      Scutaro would be an excellent veteran pick up and should shut up the Zaunites with the whole lack of leadership crap. However, I think they could roll the dice and start Hechavarria there if money starts to get tight. Pitching definitely has to be where the bulk of the money goes this winter imo.

      • Ideally 2 pitchers would be signed before adressing LF and 2B so AA can allot his payroll optimally.

        Happ, Alvarez & Jenkins should be the #5-7 starters by opening day.

        • Yep though I am not really thrilled with seeing Happ or Jenkins as the 5th starter to be perfectly honest. I am just not a big Happ fan but at the same time I know 2 decent starters will cost a minimum of $20 million on open market and maybe as much as $30 million so the Jays might be stuck with him as 5 if they decide to send Alvarez to Buffalo to start the year.

          • Whether you like it or not, I think it would be foolish to assume Happ will be anywhere BUT in the 2013 starting rotation. AA has coveted him for quite some time, he gave up a shit tonne to get him, he pitched well once in the Jays rotation…so, its highly unlikely IMO that he would not be starting early in 2013.

            Alvarez, on the other hand, will not. #BuffaloBound

          • I’m okay with Happ as the frontrunner for #5 with Alvarez, Jenkins and a Laffey-type or two behind him.

            Hutchison, Drabek and maybe even McGuire/Nolin/Stilson et al could be depth options as the year progresses.

            On the optimistic side, if AA can land 2 mid-rotation starters or better, I feel pretty good about the depth behind the ML starters. Espescially since a couple of Laffeys should be added to the group in Buffalo with relative ease.

          • 4.69 ERA isn’t what I would call pitching pretty well. You can argue his 2.90 FIP for August might mean he had the potential to pitch better in the future because that’s what his FIP is – an estimator, but it’s over 30 innings and FIP isn’t even the best estimator out there as it is and it’s even worse over small sample sizes. That said, 2 good starts out 6 isn’t a lot to write home about.

            If the Jays are going to settle for mediocrity first and foremost then I agree Happ is a strong candidate. However, from everything AA has said about depth these last few weeks I wouldn’t be surprised if Happ ends up as the swing man to start the season especially if the money is there for other options first.

    • I’m with all that, though the Halladay stuff is pretty fanciful, and I think the Phillies will have a hard time being convinced they’re better off without him.

      I don’t see Scutaro or Melky happening, but definitely worth a try. And the Haren thing, for sure. You could say the same of Peavy, as well. Expensive, but at one year each, so what? Problem is, you’d have to give up enough to make it worth their while not to take the compensation pick, assuming their clubs would be buying them out and then making a qualifying offer. So, the price wouldn’t be nothing, but I’d love to see them to something like that. If you’re going to over pay for someone, way better to do it for one year than for many.

      • And yet, the flipside of that is that these guys have decent-or-better seasons next year and then, much like the shopping cart analogy, it’s not as simple as buying them back for future years. I don’t think pitching help from the farm can be relied as soon as after the 2013 season, so you’d likely need more than a one-year bridge.

        On the A-ball arms, do you get the sense AA wants to graduate them as a class, a Hudson-Mulder-Zito approach, which allows for some of the four (including Osuna, for the moment) to falter at the big league level?

        • It would be great if the Lansing trio could remain property of the Blue Jays for the foreseeable future, and see all three graduate to the MLB level in some capacity. But realistically, AA will have to hang his hat on one, maybe two of them, and utilize the hype generated to date to make a deal.

          Other GM’s will be asking for Sanchez, Syndergaard or Nicolino. Probably in that order. I would trade one of them for a reliable arm coming back in an instant.

          • What are the odds of the Lansing Trio showing up to take 3 rotation spots in 2014??? Pretty slim if you ask me.

            Jays would be lucky to get 2 qualified MLB starters out of 3.

        • @ M2

          If the farm (and I’m including Alvarez, Hutch & Drabek here) can’t graduate a starter for 2014, then there is a whole new group of guys that could potentially be signed short term.

          Basically, if you don’t like the prices for a difference maker like Greinke, why not diversify the risk, keep the term short and address the 4 biggest holes (2 starters, LF & 2B) with 2-4 win players that should at least give the Jays a fair chance at being in the 85-90 win range next year.

        • M2, I’m fine with figuring that out when we get there, and taking the compensation picks to boot.

      • I should have mentioned Peavy and maybe even Lincecum in addition to Haren and Halladay.

        I don’t want to get into a huge thing over the value of Halladay; but I think it’s entirely possible that Philly would be better of spending that $20 mil somewhere else (they supposedly love Michael Bourn). If Halladay was a free agent would he get $20 mil for 1 year? I highly doubt it.

        I don’t think that number works on a team with poor payroll flexibility (Philly) as well as it does on a team with good payroll flexibility (Jays).

        Cabrera is a guy I’d “overpay” for since even an overpay could end up being a huge steal. He had a stellar 2011 in which he presumably passed a number of a drug tests and I don’t believe it is as simple as increased testosterone = increased BABIP. But who knows if AA even has interest.

        • Halladay looks to be a much bigger risk than in the past with the shoulder issues he had this past summer. As nice as it would be to have someone like him back even if he’s slightly less than his prime it would still be a huge risk to take for $20 million. With the Jays lack of current depth I just don’t see them taking that kind of risk.

          • @night-manimal

            Whatever the Jays do is a risk. I prefer the one year risk, however.

            If major league teams want young MLB guys or prospects in the high minors, I don’t think the Jays have the depth to give up too many of them.

            So then it’s down to free agency or taking some “bad” contracts back.

            Haren, Halladay & Lincecum may all qualify and in the case of Haren and Lincecum, they don’t have a choice in the matter about playing in Toronto.

            And let’s not forget that guys like Haren and Lincecum are good candidates for qualifying offers following 2013…

          • True, but I can’t think of a better marketing dream from Rogers than to bring back Halladay.

            The reality is that Halladay would still be the best pitcher on the Jays in 2013, due to Morrow’s injury history.

            Halladay,Morrow,Romero,Happ,Alvarez is a a playoff ready team.

      • Also, obviously Peavy will get a qualifying offer, but I’m not sure about Haren. A qualifying offer ($13.5) after his buyout ($3.5) would give him more money than his current team option ($15.5).

  5. AA is a good corporate stooge.

  6. “There’s a few names that are out there that are available that aren’t out in the mainstream media– because obviously clubs want to keep that quiet.”

    Of course you’d always expect this to be the case, though this is still interesting. Not unlike Pineda and Latos a year ago, there could be a guy out there that we aren’t even thinking of. Though the thought of the scenario Shi Davidi floated the other day of Alvarez, Drabek, Hutch, D’Arnaud and one of the Lansing 3 for Gio Gonzalez is enough to make your stomach churn. In a lot of ways, it is almost more appealing to take on an arm with a high salary where the expenditure prospect wise isn’t as severe (i.e. Lincecum, Halladay – assuming those guys are available at all).

    • wasn’t everyone in on Latos last year, or am i thinking of someone else?

    • Shi Davidi’s comments are scary.

      He makes it sound like the Jays have to trade the entire farm system to get a “young MLB proven” starter.

      Go back to the winter before Rasmus was traded. I think people on thought the jays would have to empty the farm system for him. In reality, rasmus was traded for far less.

  7. Hey stoeten, any ideas about who AA might be interested in that isn’t “in the mainstream media” and might have been overlooked?

  8. ” I’ll talk to him about it, I’ll explain why, I’ll talk to him about the player, how it would fit, how it would impact us from a payroll standpoint, and then– ***from my understanding***– he would talk to Nadir Mohamed and Keith Pelley and explain all of that, and we would go from there.”

    Now, its entirely possible that that’s just “AA speak”, in that he seems to couch every single statement he makes, but that would seem to suggest he hasn’t actually asked for money yet, if he’s not sure about the process. Or I’m reading into it too closely.”

    This could be a smoking gun. Remember when AA went on Bob Mccowan ‘s show in January & told him that if he wanted to sign a big free agent or Darvish he would have to guarantee playoffs.

    It looks like AA has been afraid to ask Roger for more money up until now. He has a stronger hand because he can tell the beancounters that the prospects raen’t ready yet & the existing rotation won’t work.

    The collapse of Romero means you only have 1 above average pitcher ( Morrow in the rotation.)

    Ricky can recover, but you can’t use the same promos as last year for Ricky.

  9. My favourite part:

    “if I have a request, it’s something I talk to Paul Beeston with first. I’ll talk to him about it, I’ll explain why, I’ll talk to him about the player, how it would fit, how it would impact us from a payroll standpoint, and then– from my understanding– he would talk to Nadir Mohamed and Keith Pelley and explain all of that, and we would go from there.”

    LOL…the GM isn’t even sure how the process works if he needs more money. He knows he talks to Beeston, after that, he’s unsure who Beeston would go talk to. Good to know Rogers is so transparent to their GM and that discussions could happen so fast if need be.

    • That’s a good point.

      It seems that AA gets a budget of 75 million or so but if he wants more Rogers steps in.

      No wonder the jays haven’t paid for any free agents since Thomas .

      I wonder how long it took to get the approval for Edwin and Bautista ectensions

  10. Shin Soo Choo for the 2013 Jays… Why?
    He’s got a high OBP (would’ve been 2nd on the Jays) for the lead off spot
    Has some base running prowess (20+ SB)
    Line drive hitter, not simply a contact and run guy
    Would fit perfectly in left field for one year while our prospect outfielders develop
    Probably wouldn’t cost a fortune in terms of prospects (Max one blue chip, maybe a couple mid levels)
    Struggles a bit with lefties but could platoon occasionally with Rajai against tougher lefties
    Cleveland has holes everywhere so it should be easy to intrigue them with prospects of our choosing

    He just seems to fit into our lineup perfectly so what’s the hold up

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