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There was mostly a whole lot of nothing to digest from last night’s radio action featuring Alex Anthopoulos, which is pretty much exactly what we’ve come to expect from a GM who somehow manages to be both tight-lipped and overly loquacious. There are always at least a couple of nuggets to be mined from his comments, though, and while I tried to unpack them as best I could in the course of transcribing what he said, I think there are some worth a second thought…

Deals With Teams Waiting On Free Agents?

Perhaps most interestingly, we have Alex’s statement about having deals setup that are contingent on whether the other team is able to land a free agent. Specifically, this:

I was just having a conversation with a team last night; they have some interest in our players, but they basically said the interest is predicated on whether they lose out on some free agents, and those free agents are going to take a little bit of time.

As I noted in the original post, during his hit on TSN Radio, he made it even more like discussions are quite far along– as though he could act on such deals just as soon as the dominoes fall.

So… um… what are the dominoes?

Because we know what the market looks like, the information Anthopoulos provided here may actually give us a clue– and therefore might also tell us about who he’s looking to move to someone who missed out on a big free agent get.

There are still a couple of big money catchers on the market, though I doubt J.P. Arencibia is even good enough to be anybody’s booby prize.

Centre fielders Jacoby Ellsbury and (if you really want to consider them as CF options) both Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson are still out there, and Colby Rasmus would certainly be a nice consolation for someone who didn’t land any of those players. The thing about that is, though, with just one year left before free agency, it’s not really the ideal time to deal Rasmus. You’ll get less for him now than if he were two years out, and you also need to consider that you may be giving up on a draft pick in the process– that is, if he manages to have a good enough season to warrant a qualifying offer (should you fail to extend him).

That’s a big if, and I could be wrong that the Jays may even be thinking about it, but it just seems like it would be tough to build fair value into a deal for him to offset what he could very realistically (though not certainly) net the club, both on the field next season, and off it in the 2015 draft.

I suspect, then, that the contingency may actually be for relievers.

At ESPN.com (Insider only), Dan Szymborski wrote yesterday about why he thinks the Braves should trade their relief ace, Craig Kimbrel. The piece touches on some of the same reasons why dealing a reliever (albeit one who isn’t nearly as ridiculously good as Kimbrel) would make total sense for the Jays. ”In a world in which the Phillies are willing to offer Edward Mujica a three-year deal, and a 39-year-old Joe Nathan is likely to clear $10 million, three years of Kimbrel at arbitration prices is worth a lot to a big-spending team,” he explains.

True, Casey Janssen may not have the value that we’d hope because, like Rasmus, he’s just a year away from free agency, and while they’re all very good, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos aren’t anywhere close to Kimbrel, but the idea is pretty much the same. Hey, maybe Anthopoulos wasn’t so dumb by not offloading his bullpen pieces for nothing at the trade deadline!

As Szymborski also explains, a reliever isn’t going to be the centrepiece to some kind of a massive deal, but it’s not like the Jays need massive upgrades at second base or behind the plate. Just good ol’ average will do fine, thanks. Speaking of which!

 

Could J.P. Arencibia Really Be Coming Back? Like… Really???

The second of the GM’s comments that I think warrants expanding on was the stuff having to do with J.P. Arencibia. Obviously many fans are terrified that he’ll will be back, especially since Anthopoulos– quite rightly, it’s easy to forget– explained that he thinks there’s a pretty clear possibility that he’s capable of more than he showed this season.

It’s not unfair for the GM to still have some kind of belief in his catcher– Arencibia showed through his first two seasons, and all through the minors, that he can be a much better hitter than what we saw in 2013. Good enough? I don’t know. Probably not, given his defensive shortcomings (which Anthopoulos defended, somewhat tepidly, by noting that Mark Buehrle– who had a Mark Buehrle-ish year– was really the only pitcher throwing regularly to Arencibia), but… given what the market currently looks like, if Arencibia were on another team that was looking to move him, wouldn’t we maybe be seeing the previous two years, the power, and the durability, and thinking he might be a guy worth taking a flyer on?

He’s not nothing, I guess is what I’m saying, and I don’t think Anthopoulos is wrong in pointing that out. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t still think that the situation with him is entirely untenable– and that the GM essentially admitted as much by saying that he hasn’t at all considered of making him a backup, even though it became overwhelmingly apparent over the course of this season that Arencibia was too exposed in the full-time role he was given, and needs to have his playing time scaled back.

I think he’s gone. Not just for that reason, though.

Last night in a comment on the original post, after it was pointed out to me that I was similarly certain that Adam Lind couldn’t be brought back either– especially following 2011– here’s how I explained it:

Completely different scenario for the team, though. They’re not in “let’s see what we’ve got” or “let’s see if we can turn this guy into a real asset” mode, they’re in “improve or lose my job” mode. I’ve been wrong lots of times, but I’m not worried for a second that Arencibia will actually be back next year. Just the risk of getting fucking skewered all summer about it alone is enough to make it untenable– AA’s on thin enough ice as it is to put that kind of a target on his back if he endorses JP and he comes back and sucks shit again.

I also think that the end-of-season comments about defensive improvement, though mostly focused on the infield, are telling– as are the one today where he basically conceded (by clarifying that he was only speaking about offence) that Arencibia is what he is defensively. He knows that isn’t good enough.

Yes, it’s just my opinion, but I’m not worried. I mean, seriously, can you imagine the shit Anthopoulos would take if he actually staked a significant part of his off-season on bringing Arencibia back? I know there’s the old saying that, as a GM, if you think like the fans you’re going to end up sitting with them, but nobody would give him the slightest hint of grief if he made the switch and it blew up in his face. Nobody even half serious could, after a decent Arencibia season somewhere else, throw “I told you so” in Alex’s face. It’s just too easy right now to move him, and too hard not to.

I mean… fuck. Getting rid of the offence-first catcher who just put up one of the absolute worst full-time OBP seasons in the goddamn bloody history of the sport? Bad as it is, you can’t convince me that the catching market is so bad that this isn’t a complete no-brainer. I’m sorry, you just can’t. You just can’t!

Comments (125)

  1. Did you see this:
    @bnicholsonsmith: Anthopoulos: Blue Jays targeting small group of players many of whom are “not out there on the internet” http://t.co/UhUro2lB4U

  2. I hope you are right, that he can’t bring JPA.

  3. The Buehrle-Arencibia thing was in response to a direct question from McCown about whether JPA’s D had an adverse affect on the pitching staff. AA’s answer was basically that Buehrle was the only expected starter who actually worked with JPA and then had his normal season, so you can’t really blame JPA for the pitchers. He hardly seemed to be giving any sort of CREDIT to JPA for defensive ability there.

  4. ‘overly loquacious’ – thinking more ‘vapidly verbose’. (and this comes a fan once ecstatic and still generally pleased, with the course of the team.)

  5. who do you figure has more value right now, Pillar or Sierra?

  6. If JP comes back can we DH for the catcher position and let our pitchers hit?

  7. Seems above as though you are expecting Rasmus to be gone at least after next year. Do you not expect them to try to resign him at some point between now and when he hits free agency? I’d be way more comfortable with Rasmus than Gose in CF moving forward.

    • Before and extension is signed, we need to see another good season from Rasmus, or at least part thereof. Remember, at this time last year people were trying to run him out of town and hand the job to Gose.

      • I’m a little concerned that if he has a great season they may not have the financial wiggle room to extend him. I know AA has always said they’ll have the $$ to reup their own players should they merit it, but I wonder what effect Reyes and Buerhle’s contracts will have on that position.

      • Ya still, even if he does not repeat the entirety of his 2013 season, even if he’s a 2-3 win player and not the almost 5 win player he was last year in only 118 games (by Baseball Reference) I still take that over Gose. Rasmus’ defence is probably not that much worse than Gose, but his bat is lightyears ahead. Fact is Rasmus’ ceiling is likely a 5-6 win player, while Gose its probably a 2-3 win player unless he learns to hit sometime soon.

        • rasmus was worth 1.6 fWAR in 2011 and 2012 combined.

          I still think they should keep him and hope that he is good enough for a QO after next year… but I think we seriously have to temper our expectations for rasmus… the k and bb rates are a little scary… and his offensive performance has fluctuated so dramatically that the standard deviation for his expected value has to be enormous.

          • His defense was pretty flawless this past season was it not? I wouldn’t say anything he gives you with the bat is a bonus a la Gose, but given his stock as a prospect, his 2010 season, struggles with personal issues and the corner he seems to have turned last season, I’m more optimistic for his future performance than I might be for another youngish player with the same peripheral stats

          • My point though, is unless we find someone else to replace Rasmus, personally I would rather bet on him than Gose. Rasmus has shown that he does have the potential to reach his ceiling, Gose has never come anywhere close to his projected ceiling either in the Minors or Majors.

          • It’s the BABIP that’s scary. BB rate is very good. K rate is high, but doesn’t matter as much as some people will tell you.

            • you are totally right the walk rate is fine… but the k rate is important in the sense that its pretty hard to be productive hitter with a k rate approaching 30% unless you have a very high BABIP.

    • He’s either going to be really good, and stupidly expensive, or bad again, and probably worth moving on from. I’m not expecting he’ll be gone, but with Gose there and so cheap.

  8. I think you can get value for Rasmus.

    An off season trade means the acquiring team could offer a QO next year. Most teams are probably cool with shuffling a little more prospect capital over in anticipation of recouping a pick.

    It’s not like mid season where the comp pick just vanishes into this air.

    • Was going to say the same.

      Meanwhile as much as I love Colby, Gose looked much better at the end of the year. No idea stats-wise. Just looked way more comfortable at the plate and on the field.

  9. Man, US Presswire REALLY needs to take more AA photos.

  10. I just wonder what Catchers are really attainable for the Jays and at what price.

    If the Jays decide to sign or trade for 2 P’s + 2B what assets are left to sell. If they do accomplish the above then how important is it to deal JPA and what does the upgrade look like. They could get a Pierzinski or Hannigan .. is either really much better then a 2011/12 JPA?

    If they go for a Home Run trade like a Castro then it will take numerous prospects. AA once again says the trade market to fill holes is more likely .. so what prospects is he trading for top of the rotation starter(s) .. they only have so many assets and you can’t trade every prospect can you?

    Not sure if they jays would gamble on a Offense first guy like Montero (SEA) that may not cost A1 prospects?

    I can see a scenario where JPA is back and that could be a good thing, bc maybe that means AA has upgraded the rotation and 2B and can live with one more kick at the can with JPA???

    • I think the problem with this situation is does the team stand to gain more with improved production at 2B vs C? I don’t think so. At least you have the option of plugging in some D-first guys up the middle infield to provide some kind of value. Gambling on any type of offensive resurgence from JPA is too much risk, especially considering his defensive shortcomings and lack of depth behind him.

    • Montero can’t catch, he’s a DH…that can’t hit either.

    • You really can’t bring jpa back, for all the reasons in the post. You ask if hanigan or pierzinski are better than jpa, and apart from ignoring last year, based on defense and obp its pretty clear they are – not that I wouldn’t be hoping for better. As for montero, I don’t think he’s even a catcher anymore.

    • Montero? Christ.

    • In terms of catching targets, Alex Avila is a guy I’d really like to have here, and the Tigers are obvious candidates for a bullpen trade…not sure exactly how a trade would have to look to get it done, though. I see no reason why Avila can’t be the guy he was in 2012, and backing him up with someone who can pound lefties (Hanigan and Navarro are a couple available guys) would make for a pretty solid catching duo.

      • I like avila… but as contenders I don’t see them moving the starting catcher unless someone is pushing the door down from inside the organization. besides, I suspect the fact that his dad is dombrowski’s right hand man probably makes them a little less likely to move him.

    • Nick Hundley might be available from Padres.

      They have Grandal as their #1, Hundley was an average offense, steallr defense guy last year.

      They could be interested in dealing Hundley and he’d be a decent fit here?

    • Nope.

  11. Nice posts AS. Is there also a hint from AA’s comments that the dominoes seem to be about to fall only in one direction: other teams failing to get their preferred FAs and then trading for BJ players, not AA failing to get his preferred FAs and then trading with other teams?

  12. I think the whole “we don’t see jp as a backup for us” very telling for a different reason. I think its quite clear that Thole has to be the backup catcher for us because of the need to have a knuckleball catcher for Dickey. That would mean Aarencibia has to be the starter or be cut. They aren’t going to make Thole the starter, and they aren’t going to have 2 non-nuckleball catchers on the team. And I don’t think there is any way they will have JPA be the starter again after how he’s performed the past 3 seasons.

    • agree. nothing new added there… he was never going to be the back up with thole under contract and his inability to catch the floater.

    • I took that comment to mean JP’s max value as an asset moving forward is as a starting catcher for some team, just not the BJs.

    • A defence-first catcher shouldn’t have much trouble with a knuckleball. It’s not like Thole grew up in the role.

  13. I recognize that JPA’s offense was historically bad as an individual, but how does his offense stack up when compared to the offensive production of the other 29 teams’ catchers as a unit? Is it still historically bad or is it middle of the road? Sometimes I think there are far fewer actual, major league catchers than there are teams.

    • I’m not sure if you understand what historically bad means.

      • I suspect if you compare Arencibia’s production to the production put forth from the C position by all the times it wouldn’t look so historically bad. Which is why I asked the question.

        And if he’s so much worse than replacement level, why not just get the replacement guy?

        • I’m with Steinbrenner here. He was historically bad *for a regular,* but there were a lot of Josh Tholes getting getting a lot of at-bats, too.

  14. Another reason to think JPA will be gone is AA’s earlier comments that they need to think differently about risk than they did last year. If he’s unwilling to take a chance with JJ bouncing back he sure shouldn’t take a chance with JPA bouncing back.

  15. I agree with Andrew about the GM being on the hot seat this year. Fair or not, Boards tend to ask questions like this:

    After 4 years on the job, what is AA’s best free agent signing?
    What great players has he acquired through trade?
    What has been his most-impactful draft pick?
    Are the best players on the team now the same ones that were already here?
    How much has the team’s record/success improved?
    How well has he controlled payroll/costs?
    How well has he public relations problems?
    How well is the team set up for success in the future?

    The answers to most of the questions are very damning. Barring a huge turnaround, I think this is his last winter and he’s being very cautious trying to get it right.

    • Must be a lot of uneducated people on those boards.
      The real answers are easy.
      How quickly they forget what the experts were saying at the beginning of 2013.
      Didn’t work out as expected ( no shit) but the moves were the right ones.

      • You’d be surprised. There isn’t a successful business in the world that after a 4 to 5 year period would evaluate it’s CEO based on process rather than results. You know why? Because a process is only good when it leads to good results. Only excuse-makers suggest otherwise.

        • Some of the smartest and richest business minds own sports teams. They find out quickly that building a championship sports team is different than building a successful company.It’s apples and oranges.

        • Nonsense.

        • “a process is only good when it leads to good results. ”

          This is not even close to true. Even the best processes are not 100% effective.

          For the Blue Jays’ case, 9 of 10 times when a team with a core like the 2012 Jays brings in the calibre of players AA brought in last winter, they compete for a playoff spot.

          The very fact that SO MANY things had to go wrong in order for the season to derail highlights the fact that the process was good.

          It would have been a bad process if everyone had played as expected but the Jays still sucked.

          • You also have to determine which results are important. Winning is important to us fans, but to owners, attendance is important too. and AA’s tenure has seen a significant rise in attendance #s…. not all thanks to him, but probably partially thanks to him.

        • the question is how much money has he made Rogers in the past few years. Sure they want to win but its a corporation that wants to make money first. All be at last year was a disaster on the field, on a business level seems to be a nice success nonetheless. If 2014 is a disaster I can see him being in line to be x’d however bar that I doubt he’s on the hot seat myself.

          • Yeah, but the reason it was a success was because of the excitement of it being a winner. There’s a step back that’s going to happen on the business side, unless the team does well right off the hop, or AA pulls another rabbit out of his hat.

    • After 4 years on the job, what is AA’s best free agent signing? – trick question, AA doesn’t like the free agent route.
      What great players has he acquired through trade? – SS/CF/DH/RF/3B/BP
      What has been his most-impactful draft pick? – who would know after only 4 yrs.
      Are the best players on the team now the same ones that were already here?
      How much has the team’s record/success improved? – attendence and revenue way up
      How well has he controlled payroll/costs? – better than most with what he’s been given
      How well has he public relations problems? – Escobar’s long gone
      How well is the team set up for success in the future? – better than in decades

    • I love when people bring their “real world” insight of business into the mix. I’m sure you have sat in on many board meetings. Ok, I’m sure you’ve seen board meetings in a movie.

      • Just because you might not have any business experience doens’t mean others around here don’t either.

        That said, I’m pretty sure this guy is full of shit.

        • I have plenty of business experience.

          Enough that I don’t have to pretend knowledge of how Rogers’ board operates. And enough that I don’t feel a need to inflict my boring business anecdotes onto the readers of this sports blog.

          • Well I appreciate that. heh

            Ditto, btw.

            • Believe what you like. You’ll get no where in life dismissing everyone as people who know nothing.

              I think you should open your minds to the possibility that just because you liked AA’s thought process, doesn’t mean that it was the way to go, or that someone else couldn’t do things better.

              Oh, and let me know when I can have the chance to invest in your poor results but great processes business. It sounds great.

              • You’re confusing success as a sports team with success as a business. It’s striking that you can’t discern the two. Wins aren’t the same as dollars.

  16. If JP had any sense in dealing with fans and the media and if he at least pretended to care about anything other than hitting home runs, it would be easier to accept him as a healthy, cheap, catcher that still has room to improve.

    The problem is more that he is so annoying and that he keeps defending himself.

    Just a little humility man! Come on.

    “I fucking sucked the bag. I begged Encarnacion and Cano to let me watch them train in the offseason. I am the biggest idiot on the team.”

  17. BREAKING

    Deck mcguire added to 40 man. Another hidden gem.

  18. Re: “I’m sorry, you just can’t. You just can’t!”

    But he just might.

    Considering the scarcity at the position creeping into the market I think that AA’s value whore ways could end up leading to JPA as the Jays starting catcher in 2014.

    Chooch is the man, but 3 years guaranteed? At good money? For a catcher who will be 35 on opening day? Coming off a subpar year? That’s a sign of craziness to come.

    Anticipating this, you can almost hear AA’s thought process in the interview talking himself into considering JPA as the guy next year.

    I hope I’m wrong. Personally I’d stash him Buffalo for the year as depth/rebuild value project/minor deadline trade chip (someone is always desperate for catching then), but we shall see.

  19. just to add a bit of fire to a Rasmus trade…

    last offseason the Indians traded one year of Shin Soo Cho, plus reliever Tony Sipp, AAAA player (and brief Blue Jay) Lars Anderson, and some scrub named Jason Donald, to the Reds (via the D’Backs) for two years of Drew Stubbs, a good pitching prospect in Trevor Bauer, and two relievers (Albers and Shaw).

    Rasmus, while he isn’t the hitter Choo is, I think has the same value, because 1) he’s younger and 2) he’s an elite defender and a legitimate center fielder (also adding to Rasmus’s value is the fact that his arbitration salary may be $1 million lower than Choo’s this year too).

    if they decided to move Rasmus, like the Indians did with Choo last offseason they could look to do a 3 team trade, with one of the losers to the Ellsbury/Choo sweepstakes… the Mariners, perhaps? The Rangers? The Mets? The Nats? Not that they’d get the assets they’d need from those teams but they could be matches for Rasmus and give up the prospects to a 3rd team to give the Jays the MLB-ready guys they’d want.

    • Don’t know how much age factors in when you’re only dealing one year, but this is a good point. Though the volatility in Rasmus’s background I think makes him less valuable than Choo was a year ago. But it’s definitely a good comparison.

      • Could Rasmus command 75% of that package?

      • Thanks Stoeten. Grant your point about age. But another plus to Rasmus’s value may be the market itself this offseason which we’re told again and again is flush with cash. If the Mariners go bananas on Ellsbury and the Yankees do the same with Choo, Rasmus for $6 million to a team like the Rangers (or even the Reds) who are in a kind-of win-now mode may be look really nice.

        • Sure, but move-major-pieces-off-the-big-league-roster nice?

          • unfortunately, they may not have any other choice.

            if you can confidently project Rasmus to be a 4 – 5 fWAR player going forward then I think that’s a really tough trade to make without an incredible return.

            but if Rasmus is the 3.3 fWAR that Steamer projects him to be in 2014 then I think the trade is easier to swallow.

            Juan Lagares, put up 2.5 fWAR in CF for the Mets this year with a .275 wOBA and based almost only on his glove. Gose, isn’t the defender Lagares is but he’s an elite base stealer, and he already has a better wOBA than Lagares (.289).

            the problem is the uncertainty and risk in all of these moves is really high and, like Drew said in one of the last DJF podcasts, the Jays desperately need to minimize risk given all the question marks already on the roster.

            personally, I’m with your offseason strategy, i think they should spend money and it’s foolish and short-sighted to trade away prospects and counterproductive to trade away from the MLB roster. sign two or three free agents on not too crazy deals (Ubaldo, Mark Ellis, Vargas or Kazmir).

            but, increasingly, based on AA’s comments, I believe that the Jays don’t have the budget to bring in even those guys (let alone Ervin Santana, Infante or Salty/Pierzynski) so that’s why a smart trade with a MLB asset like Rasmus might actually be what happens, as much as I wouldn’t like it.

            maybe im too pessimistic, i don’t know…

            • No, I’d buy that. Gose is palatable enough, and Rasmus may not ever have this kind of value again, either.

  20. Hey Jonathan Lucroy is kind of great and the Brewers are going nowhere. I wonder if he’s acquirable… Probably not considering his youth and contract.

  21. Just because JPA appeared in a lot of games, can we say he durable? He got beat to rat shit behind the plate and preformed shitastically, not unlike Wells when he said he was playing through injury and sucked dick hard in his final years with the club. Just because the team has little options to sit a player that is injured do we still consider him durable? Id like to think if the wet cardboard box known as JPA sat a little more and didnt have the hands of an arthritis victim that were caught in a eat grinder he might have thrown a few more guys out, hit over .200 and could have been inline with his other shitty years. I dont like that he or anyone else keeps toting him as durable when he sucked and played hurt, hurting the team in the process. thats not noble to me, thats selfish. The Jays should have had more options to allow him time off to heal a little.

    • Yes, we can say he was durable.

      • Not trying to be confrontational, just understanding….as long as you get the tick in GP column you can be considered durable whether you are playing hurt as he and everyone has admitted and whether or not he preforms well or even not the worst catcher ever?

        I can understand AA wanting to say it, but there wasnt any other options for him to be DL’d and preaching his durability will increase his value, but other teams would have sat him, no?

  22. Chris Carpenter has retired.

  23. What matters is that other teams think he’s durable, so they’ll want him.

    • I agree its fine to try to make sure a potential buyer thinks he’s durable, but I dont really think he is personally. And of course my opinion doesnt mean shit lol

  24. I stepped in dog shit on Sunday and even though I washed my sneaker I feel like I can still smell it.

    I’m feeling the same way reading that JPA may be back in ’14.

  25. AA will do something significant. His job is on the line and he’s fully aware of it. Another last place finish and he’s one. If they are at least in the hunt…he gets another year.

  26. Bowden: “Angels continuing their pursuit of free agent starter Jason Vargas and free agent reliever Joe Smith as pitching remains their priority”

    Oh man, if only we had a back-end lefty starter and a good reliever we could part with…

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