“Two years ago, the Houston Astros constructed ‘Ground Control’—a built-from-scratch online database for the private use of the Astros front office. It is by all accounts a marvel, an easy-to-use interface giving executives instant access to player statistics, video, and communications with other front offices around baseball,” explains Barry Petchesky of Deadspin. “All it needs, apparently, is a little better password protection.”
And thus we begin a journey into ten months of internal trade talks, leaked by someone who evidently figured out a way around that poor password protection, and posted at Deadspin, and also at Annobin, which we’re told is “a site where users can anonymously share hacked or leaked information.”
It’s all very interesting stuff, and worth scanning through for more than just the Jays bits, but, of course, that’s the stuff we’re most interested in.
The talks being around last year’s trade deadline, with the Astros looking to move Bud Norris. The Jays don’t appear to have been terribly seriouslyt involved in the Norris stuff, but they’re certainly mentioned in regard to that pursuit, withseveral off-seasonJays conversations also logged in the database. So… um… let’s take a look at what Alex Anthopoulos was really doing, and what he really thinks…
[Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos] texted [Luhnow] and asked what it would take for Norris. AA said Aaron Sanchez is off the table but might be willing to talk about anyone else.
[Luhnow] told [Alex Anthopoulos] that we would consider Stroman +. AA said he had a bunch of balls in the air at once but would get back to JL.
[Alex Anthopoulos] texted [Luhnow] and asked what a package around Stroman might look like. JL said Stoman + Gose would be in consideration.
These ones are all about Bud Norris, and — as Petchesky puts it — it’s pretty amazing how this talk “really isn’t too different from your fantasy league, with front office types kicking around ideas, making preposterous demands, gossiping, and discussing various contingencies.”
The Jays obviously didn’t pull the trigger on a deal like this — not that it was really up to them, as the Astros had dialogue with multiple teams about Norris — and that would seem to be a pretty damn good thing. Not sure how Bud Norris — or anybody — was helping the 2013 by the time the trade deadline rolled around — though he was/is still under team control until the end of 2015 — but Anthopoulos was at least interested enough in the possibility of dealing Stroman for Norris that he followed up on what the rest of the package might look like.
Two things stand out here, even if they’re not entirely surprising: one, you wonder how high the Jays were, internally, on Stroman, given that Anthopoulos entertained to a degree the possibility of parting with him, and two, that Anthony Gose is now merely a “+”.
Houston eventually settled on moving him to Baltimore for Josh Hader, L.J. Hoes, and a competitive balance draft pick. That seems about right.
TOR reached out on Jason Catro. They said their No. 1 priority this off season is to upgrade over Arrencibia. They want to get a sense for what the price would be on Castro.
Castro’s was a name that we had heard the Jays possibly being interested in last winter, so it makes absolute sense that they were kicking the tires. Funny, though — not to mention curious — that upgrading behind the plate was termed the club’s “No. 1 priority” for the off-season, given what Anthopoulos had said publicly about his pitching, and how obvious it was he needed pitching.
Certainly doesn’t mean that he wasn’t looking at pitching at all — and it’s definitely funny to see that, internally, they’d probably soured on Arencibia as much as we had out here among the unwashed masses (though… um… isn’t it their job to be ahead of the curve on such things? I mean, where was this a year prior?) — but “No. 1 priority” seems a bit off. It also seems a bit off that he’d say such a thing, given the way that we’re supposed to believe he needs to play his cards so close to the vest. The media can’t be told anything because all internal information is super secret within the high stakes game of poker that is trade negotiations, except, y’know, we’ll just tell everybody what we really want to do most anyway? Huh?
[Alex Anthopoulos] said Lawrie was untouchable. Sounded like they might consider a smaller deal for Stroman but later in off season.
One assumes that this one is in reference to a specific Astros player, but we’re not told who it is. That makes it a little difficult to take much from it, apart from the fact that it’s funny how teams will claim that they have no untouchables, but then totally they do. Lawrie, though his bat has generally disappointed, and his health has been a problem, is an understandable one if only for the marketing department’s love of the smell of maple cock cheese (not that their interests should have anything to do with what Baseball Operations does), but also because he’s cheap, versatile, an excellent defender, and that it’s easy to see how the best is still ahead for him. Sanchez being in this category — as mentioned earlier, at least with respect to Bud Norris — makes sense too.
Yet again seeing a willingness to part with Stroman, though, is maybe a little worrisome. Obviously the Jays didn’t, so it’s hard to say that they didn’t believe in him, or that they didn’t see coming what he’s been able to do in the rotation this year — and, frankly, given the issues with the number of innings he’ll be asked to log if the Jays make a deep run, it’s all the more understandable that they might have wanted to flip him for someone who they could feel better about making a longer run with.
But… y’know… it might also keep me up at night thinking of the Jays cabal of too-trusted leathery old scouts squawking about his lack of height. Thankfully, though, it would seem as though Stroman, through his performances on the field, has saved the Jays from themselves on that front.
. . .
Aaaaaand, unfortunately, that’s all that was to be found on the Jays front among the leaked documents. It’s at this point that I’d like to offer some big takeaways from it all, but I’m not sure that there really are any. Interesting stuff, though, limited as it is. Now go read the whole Deadspin piece and check out how other teams dealt with some of the same issues.