My brain seriously needed a break from the Winter Meetings this evening, and Alex Anthopoulos made sure it was smooth sailing for me, continuing to not do a damn thing– at least not publicly– while I was lounging around kinda not giving a shit. Here’s what we missed!
OHKA CRISIS!!!! An actual move, and holy shit, it’s for Tomo Ohka! The one-time member of the doomed Ohka-Thomson-Zambrano triumvirate has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer and, according to the tweet from Shi Davidi breaking the news of the deal, he may start in double-A. Can you say knuckleball practice for new catcher-of-the-future A.J. Jimenez? Because Gideon Turk of Blue Jays Plus sure can.
The Jays made another move this evening, too, sending out a press release notifying us of their having officially removed Thad Weber from the 40-man roster so that he can complete his move to the N.C. Dinos of Korea– the same team Eric Thames will be playing for! The move could be Rule 5 related, as the open spot could be used to select someone. Last month at FanGraphs, Marc Hulet listed his favourite potential pick-ups, and while it’s not a terribly impressive group (Marc’s top pick is Jays reliever Ryan Tepera), there’s a potentially intriguing infielder there… though he hasn’t played above A-ball. So… yeah, a big whatever on the Rule 5.
The real fascinating item from tonight, though, was a tweet from Jon Heyman, who says that the Yankees– yes, the Yankees– were offered Brandon Phillips by the Reds in exchange for Brett Gardner, but were rebuked. In case you don’t know, like Colby Rasmus, Gardner is centre fielder a year away from free agency. I’d ask incredulously if that’s how bad Phillips’ contract is viewed, but then there’s also this hilariousness from another Heyman tweet: “before Yanks turned down Phillips-for-Gardner bid, Phillips asked to re-open his contract (add $) to agree to deal.” (Ken Rosenthal adds that he hears Phillips has a no-trade clause that includes the Yankees, which explains this, and makes it far, far less hilarious.)
It’s certainly possible that the Reds just don’t want Rasmus (perhaps money– he’ll make about double this year what Gardner does– or because of Walt Jocketty’s connection with St. Louis)– and I’m assuming here that the two clubs would have at least known about the mutual interest– but… yeah, is Phillips’ contract that bad? I don’t think it’s great, but that bad? Is the Jays’ lack of comfort with Anthony Gose the issue? The money that’s owed Phillips this year? Beyond? We’re getting pretty deep into thinking about a trade discussion that we don’t know ever even happened, but the similarities of the players’ situations and the teams’ perceived surplus makes you kind of think that it must have. Right?
The Phillips thing wasn’t the only craziness going on this evening, because apparently there was also a report from a Minnesota radio guy at some point today, suggesting that the Tigers were in on Ervin Santana. Like… jeez, guys, I know Dombrowski got hosed on the Fister deal, but that doesn’t mean you can just come up with any old bullshit about him and make it sound believable. Come on.
And that’s not even the end to the craziness, as there was an altercation between agents in the parking lot at the Dolphin hotel– part of the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World, where the meetings are being held. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has the details.
As far as the Jays go, it sounded earlier like there could be something actually brewing with the Jays. Gregor Chisholm tweeted that Alex Anthopoulos had said to reporters that, “I think one thing that we’re pursuing, would most likely have a three-team component to it that I think could work.” However, Ben Nicholson-Smith added an AA quote in which he explained that it’s not like he’s sitting on it– “If a deal makes sense — trade, free agency — and you find the right value, you normally don’t let it wait,” he said– while Gregor came to the same conclusion, saying with regard to the first comment that “The way I interpreted that comment from Anthopoulos was that the third team would still need to be found. But I could be wrong.” It’s still not over yet, at least. I’ll take a little bit of solace in that.
Of course, making a deal isn’t going to be easy: in a piece at Sportsnet, Benny Fresh addressed the behind the scenes back and forth, looking at the art of the deal. Great stuff.
Richard Griffin recaps the day in a piece for the Toronto Star, treading a lot of ground we’ve already covered, but adding some interesting things, like the GM’s comments about new first base coach Tim Leiper– who he says was Gibbers’ hire, “it’s his staff,” but who he sees as an excellent up-and-coming coach. And, of course, because it’s Griff, he had to get in some kind of a dig at the supposed lack of catching instruction available to J.P. Arencibia this year, which he does as he adds that “the Jays have room for an extra coach on the staff this year, but the thinking at this stage is that catching instructor Sal Fasano will continue with responsibilities to the organization, but will make more frequent visits in uniform to the major-league team.” Mmm-hmm.
Lastly, another one from Griff, as he speaks to Brandi Halladay, Roy’s wife, as she talks appreciatively about the fans in Toronto and her and her family’s time here. “Brandy was asked what message she’d like to send to the people of Toronto. She did not hesitate,” he writes. “Thank you for always supporting us. Thank you for being behind us every year of Roy’s career and for welcoming him back home. You will always be in our hearts and thoughts.”
So… there’s that.