At around the same time Gregg Zaun was over on the rival station reiterating his desire to see the entire Blue Jays team traded away, Alex Anthopoulos jumped on the radio on Monday night, speaking with Bill Hayes and Bruce Arthur on TSN 1050, addressing a number of issues relating to his club, most illuminatingly so when it comes to the names being linked to the Jays in several reports regarding the trade market. (Audio painstakingly tracked down to here.)
Not being able to comment on other team’s players, he didn’t specifically mention Matt Garza, but… um… you don’t exactly need to be Faulkner to pick up on the subtext. See if you catch what I’m talking about:
“Some stuff that’s out there is completely fabricated. I guess what I can tell you is– speaking in general terms, of course– we have not had one discussion with a team about a starter. So, if people are reading names that are out there, that would be a 100% complete fabrication, in terms of us going after a starter right now. Doesn’t mean that if something came up a week from now, or something, that we wouldn’t be open to it, but right now we’re not engaged in or having any dialogue with respect to a starter.”
He goes on to add that there still aren’t many clubs willing to start selling off players, mostly due to the extra Wild Card berths, and that there are “maybe one or two teams that clearly have talked about, ‘We’re open to doing something, and we’re open to doing something sooner.’ ”
“For us it’s been very quiet. Right now we really don’t have anything close, or anything that we’re really getting serious about. I expect those conversations to change once we come out of the break.”
It’s a familiar refrain from Anthopoulos at this time of year– he’s certainly not one to tip his hand, so I wouldn’t expect him to admit if something was close– but the stuff about the starting pitching is most definitely not what we’d been hearing from places like CSN Chicago and ESPN Chicago.
“I don’t see us doing anything where we take away from the team, unless we clearly feel we have depth in certain areas, and I’d say that right now the only area I can see us having some depth is in the bullpen. So maybe we would be open minded if there was a deal there to trade a reliever.”
Hang on. What was that I was saying about Anthopoulos not tipping his hand?
OK, so maybe he sometimes does. What he doesn’t say here, though, is that I’d think the club also has some depth in centre and left field– Rasmus, Gose, Cabrera, Davis and Pillar– as well as at DH, where Cabrera may need to play regardless, and where Lind may be a sell high candidate.
Anthopoulos also opened up a little more than usual on the subject of unsigned first round pick Phil Bickford– though at first he was typically diplomatic.
“It’s one of those things that didn’t work out. And I know I’m being extremely vague and extremely evasive, but there’s just certain things that you can’t get into. But we certainly think he’s got a world of talent– would not be surprised to see him become a top pick again in three years– and certainly don’t have anything but good things to say about him. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
In the many words surrounding the above statement, however, Anthopoulos filled in some of the vagaries.
“We did a lot of work on him himself and signability– if he wanted to play pro ball– and we felt very confident that all that was accurate,” he explained. “We still feel that today.”
So… was it something in Bickford’s medicals– as some have suspected– that scared off the Jays? Actually no.
Anthopoulos defended the whiff by explaining that the only asset that was lost here was a year’s development time, which can be mitigated significantly depending on who they select next year– citing the example of Marcus Stroman, who is already in Double-A, and was selected last year with the pick the Jays got back for not signing Tyler Beede, who won’t be drafted again until next June and the GM says would likely be at either Dunedin or Lansing right now for the Jays.
That type of hedge, he explains, is made possible by the way the CBA works.
“If you didn’t have the ability to get the draft pick back the following year, the dynamic completely changes,” he says, “and I think you would have seen a guy like Phil Bickford sign. If there was no ability to get the draft pick back, I feel very confident he’d be a Toronto Blue Jay today.”
Obviously I’m extrapolating, but why else would that be the case except for the fact that not getting the pick back would have forced the Jays to be less firm on their number? Ergo, it sure sounds like the Jays held firm around slot, not wanting to blow up the pool money they’d saved for Jake Brentz and Rowdy Tellez, and not worrying terribly about moving to the 11th pick in a stronger 2014 draft, believing that Bickford really did want to turn pro, and wouldn’t be able to turn down $3-million, given he was a late riser on draft boards anyway, and that he’ll need three years of good health and performance to get back to a bonus of that level.
Plausible, at the very least.
Miscellaneous (Happ, Morrow, Romero, Bautista)
There were a few additional interesting tidbits from the interview, including a bit of a pessimistic view of Brandon Morrow’s status (emphasis mine), when he spoke about rotation help, explaining, ”guys like J.A. Happ are going to come back soon, and hopefully Brandon Morrow comes back soon.”
So… that’s encouraging.
Encouraging in a non-sarcastic way, however, has been the performance of Ricky Romero in Buffalo of late. But the GM was quick to assure fans that he’ll need a lot more than just a handful of starts before he’s rushed back to the Majors again.
“What we need to see is, we need to see that over and over and over again. It should come to the point where he dominates that league. If he’s going to be the starter that he was for us– and he certainly has the ability and the youth to come back and be that guy again– he should at some point start to dominate that league. And an outing like last night is a step in the right direction. If he can do that a few more times in a row– I’m definitely going to make the drive down to go see him– he’ll certainly be in the mix to get back here.”
He later emphasized the point, saying, “He needs to do it many more times.”
Lastly, a mildly interesting tidbit about Jose Bautista, with respect to roster flexibility. ”We’ve always had in the back of our heads of potentially moving him back to third base,” he says. However, when he switches from the outfield to third base, the difference in throwing motions in particular “would impact his shoulder a little bit.” In other words, don’t go expecting that change to be made in-season again any time soon, apparently. So… yeah.