Swab it out! Why do you think we have those expensive swabs?

When they’re not talking about how well the Jays are doing on the field, or the small but significant trade the Jays made yesterday — shedding catching depth, as Alex Anthopoulos seems to love to do so much — they’re talking about the money that’s available to the club, or the lack thereof. John Lott gets to the nut in a piece from the National Post on Monday. “Anthopoulos used to say: Ownership has given us every confidence that the cash is there if we need it. We have to sell the trade as an upgrade for the baseball club, of course, but Rogers has never said no to that kind of deal,” he explains. “When asked recently if he could add payroll, Anthopoulos said he could add players, and players make money, so there. (‘No one plays for free,’ he added, just to erase any ambiguity.) The GM said he is confident the Jays have the “resources” to acquire players at the deadline. In the absence of new money, ‘resources’ is code for players. Toronto can trade players for players.”

As always, it’s more complicated than just complaining about cheap Rogers. Their short-sightedness here is evident, but for once it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand their holding firm on the stance that the payroll is very healthy (10th in MLB), and if the front office has a problem it’s with the way they themselves have allocated that money. That, too, is complicated, as there were surely internal pressures on Alex Anthopoulos to do something major in the off-season between 2012 and 2013, rather than to coast again on false hope while shrewdly rebuilding as the best years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went to waste. On the other hand, the front office needed to know better than to have put themselves in this kind of situation, bloating the payroll so badly with added backloaded deals that in the event that ownership somehow wanted to tighten the purse strings — even as they paid through the dickholes for fucking hockey rights — they’d be without the kind of wiggle room they could truly use right now. But let’s not be too soft on ownership here. After all, there’s only one group in this mess who gets what it wants, and it sure isn’t the fans, or the players, or the organization itself.

For all my pissing and moaning, though, we still don’t even know for sure that it’s true that the Jays are resigned to cash-neutral deals heading into Thursday’s deadline, and that they’ll be cut off at the balls when some expensive deals are moved in waiver trades through the month of August. It sure fucking feels like it, and I’m certainly not betting on Guy Laurence riding in on a white horse with a bag of money — a hat for the players to pass around, however, I wouldn’t put past him — but it’s also true that the Jays continue to be rumoured to be monitoring players whose contracts would definitely require more payroll to digest (and please, put away your crackpot Ricky Romero theories away). That at least makes plausible some of the ideas in the excellent guide to possible Jays additions from Ben Nicholson-Smith over at Sportsnet. (Or if it doesn’t, just for a minute pretend these Jays are a team that operates somewhat normally).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, and speaking of those August deals the Jays aren’t likely to be too heavily involved in (unless it’s for guys at the league minimum — like for whoever they need to scramble to get to catch if one of Thole or Navarro goes down), last week Ben gave us a primer on the trade rules for once Thursday’s deadline passes, which is important, as a lot of executives seem to think there will be just many deals then as there will be this month — especially since it will allow teams more time to assess whether they’re really in a playoff race or not.

Similarly on this theme, over at the Toronto Star, Brendan Kennedy gives his two cents on why Anthopoulos may be through dealing for the week already, while making some suggestions at guys he could end up targeting anyway, and also looking at the tough roster decisions that will be coming once guys like Adam Lind (who is the closest to returning, according to a notebook post at BlueJays.com from Gregor Chisholm), Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie return to health.

Speaking of guys getting healthy, also in Gregor’s notebook post is a mention of Brandon Morrow, who we’re told is likely to be a reliever when/if he returns to a big league mound this season, mostly because the club doesn’t think they’ll have time to get him stretched out enough to start anyway. Not that they need help in the rotation at the moment — though, of course, that can change quickly.

Back to the Star, Richard Griffin looks at Anthony Gose’s recent run of success, and how he’s giving the Jays a lot to think about as they head toward a roster crunch in the coming weeks, and as they try to clear up their outfield picture for 2015. Meanwhile, Josh Rubin tries to slow down the praise train when it comes to Aaron Sanchez, looking at a number of “can’t miss” Jays prospects who missed (as well as some who hit — either way, no Travis Snider, amazingly), while Zoe McKnight checks into the state of fandom at the Rogers Centre, and specifically hecklers, who have, uh… grown up a bit this year?

Over at the Toronto Sun, Mike Rutsey opines that the Jays missed an opportunity when they let Chase Headley go to the Yankees, because apparently we’re not too big on worrying about injuries likely to be exacerbated by the turf or the fact that Headley had been something on the order of hot garbage at the plate this year.

Meanwhile, last week Bob Elliott took an extended look at some of the Jays’ best prospects, with help from BA’s John Manuel.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at which teams have been victimized the most by good pitch framing from their opponents (as opposed to how they victimize themselves by not always seeming to value their own catchers’ framing skills — well, except when they traded for Erik Kratz and Travis d’Arnaud and Jeff Mathis before, y’know, they traded them away). Um… anyway, the Jays have suffered the fourth-most in baseball this with 97 extra strikes having not gone their way. I’m thinking that being in a division with excellent framers like McCann, Molina, David Ross, as well as the Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park Strike is probably going to make that a bit of a thing.

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, last week Marc Hulet included Taylor Cole among “The Fringe Five,” which is FG’s list of the most compelling fringe prospects. “Younger Blue Jays prospects Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have both been promoted from High-A Dunedin to Toronto’s Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, while Cole remains in the Florida State League — this, despite having recorded the best strikeout and walk figures among the triumvirate,” he explains. “In point of fact, Cole has produced the best strikeout rate and walk rates among any pitcher eligible for inclusion in this weekly column.”

Interesting stuff from the farm, as Charlie Caskey of Your Van C’s gives a breakdown of a recent shakeup in the Canadians’ rotation, and a look at a couple of Bluefield Blue Jays he’d like to see move up to the Northwestern League for a spell — including the still-intriguing Matt Smoral.

At ESPN.com (Insider Only), Jim Bowden looks at the trade deadline objectives for each AL East team, checking off the usual boxes for the Jays (pre-Valencia): a starter, a reliever, and a right-handed hitting second- or third-baseman. He doesn’t even seem to suggest that the club could be hampered by the money issue, so that’s encouraging. However, he suggests they flip Jairo Labourt and Alberto Tirado for effing Joaquin Benoit. Seems steep, but I do get it. Those guys are still some serious lottery tickets at this point. Might even be guys to move before the shine comes off them too much after they each had pretty forgettable seasons — at least statistically — that won’t lead to them jumping up on anybody’s top prospect board any time soon.

Lastly, just in case you wanted to know, MLBTR notes that Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-FM tweets that the Jays were interested in Darwin Barney before he was moved, and had kicked the tires on Gordon Beckham as well. He suggests that Beckham’s slump slowed the progress of any deal, which sort of makes one wonder… did they start working on this deal four years ago? Because Beckham has been “slumping” at the plate for about that long.

Comments (70)

  1. Realize it’s a quote, and not your quote, but Boyd was just returned to Dunedin while Kendall Graveman was just promoted to the Fishercats (and pitched well last night!).

    On the latest “Around the Nest” podcast, the Dunedin broadcaster thought they might just be taking it slower with Cole. For some reason, he didn’t seem all too surprised he hasn’t been promoted to NH this season.

  2. My view on the payroll situation tends to change depending on the situation and where the team is. In the offseason, I actually understood – to an extent – Rogers’ unwillingness to open the purse strings. The team finished last and won 74 games with a payroll north of $100m. If I’m running the Rogers’ bank account I’d be hesitant to believe the crew that won 74 games would suddenly become a contender if an extra $10-$15m was laying around. Obviously, how seasons unfold are more complicated than that, but I do understand Rogers’ taking that approach in the offseason.

    All that being said, the approach should have been a wait and see one. It’s July 29th and we’re in a wildcard position. They’ve waited, and they’ve seen the team is in the race this season and the resources should be made available to acquire talent to solidify the playoff run.

    Oh, and on the question of prospects. As a 30 year old, my first memory of an up and coming prospect is Eddie Zosky, who, amazingly, played in major league baseball games in 2000 with Houston.

    • Well said. No one truly blames ownership for wanting AA’s guys to prove that they are what he said they are: i.e. a winning team.

      They are! So, now’s the time. The team’s proven it can at least get into the conversation, so why not do something to lengthen the conversation and make more money in the process?

    • It’s why a large, publically traded multi faceted media company is such a poor owner. Because they do not conduct business in a way that is “sensical” with regards to sports.

      I just don’t think the parent company looks at the day to day of the businesses they own. It’s probably impractical. They likely make long term strategic/budget decisions on an annual basis and then leave it at that. Which is fine for a business unit, but when one of those business units is a pro sports team, it’s far from ideal, as the situation can change so quickly.

      The situation for, say, Rogers Communications si likely not going to change from one month to the next. But for the Blue Jays? Of course it will.

      Obviosuly, I have no idea of the internal machinations of Rogers as it pertains to the Jays. Just saying, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it went down something like that. That is, the Jays are given a budget like all the other entities under their control, and it is the management of that entity to operate under it.

      • That argument would hold more water if Rogers hadn’t spent $12 billion on hockey rights, as Stoeten notes. You don’t budget for investments like that. You do it if it makes sense.

        And, again, Rogers being a multi-faceted media company means they should understand better than anyone that if, for example, Bell drops the price on a certain phone/plan/internet package/whatever, then they shouldn’t wait until budget time, they must keep pace.

        Given that, it’s not hard for them to understand that sports commodities generate money if they win, and that when you’re in hard again tough competition, you don’t wait until the next budget meeting, you adjust strategy and hit back.

        • Yeah but that $12 billion would have deinitely not been a spur of the moment thing, and that would definitely fall under more of long term strategy then something that just “came up”.

          Even if it seemed like it was out of the blue to us, $12 billion deals take a long time to get done, rogers was probably planning their bid for a long time, likely a year or two.

          That’s a little bit of a different animal then the Jays, which is comparitively “out of the blue”. As someone above mentioned, if you look at the record from last year, it’s probably a bit of a surprise that they’re doing as well as they are.

          • Yes, looking just at the record from last year would make you crazy to want to put any more money into the team.

            But we all pleaded to the baseball gods that Rogers would let AA do just that. And they’ve proven that even without another infusion of cash they can compete.

            And my point was that even for a company as big as Rogers, and even considering how long these deals take, $12B was not “in the budget”. But, a $15-20MM contingency for a potentially lucrative sports property that fills 4 hours a day on air for 6 months? There’s no argument for that cash not at least being available for the right deal.

      • shit, forgot to change my name back

    • Good point WDM, I wondered myself.,but I’m going to counter.
      The purpose of supporting the Jays payroll and increasing the chances of producing a winning ball club is, IMO, to obtain cheap viable content.
      Nadir and Beeston seemed to recognize this.More fans in the stands,high ratings for SN,creation of SN1,Blue jays in 30,pregame show,Baseball Central, Interest in prospects allowing for the broadcast of Bisons games,etc.
      This stuff wouldn’t exist without hype and interest.
      Laurence dropped the ball, failing to see the benefits over a long length of time.Many many years of solid content.
      If the Jays were to make the playoffs because of the signing of a couple of players that raised payroll by 10-20 Mil. How long could they ride that goodwill train?
      The content would be valuable not only for the year they chased the playoffs but for subsequent years.

      • That’s probably the issue you run into when you have non-sports guys/bottom-line guys looking over the shoulders of the people running the sports team that the larger company happens to own. The old adage is that you don’t own a sports team to make money; unfortunately, Laurence is probably looking at the Jays and isn’t quite sure what to make of things; all he knows is that the payroll is high, and doesn’t understand the nuances of owning a sports team. Nadir Mohamed was a sports guy, and that’s why the Jays had some flexibility under him. Laurence, who knows.

        My suggestion is that AA should just do whatever the hell he wants. If the Jays make the playoffs, it’ll be pretty hard to fire him.

  3. MLBTR, and more specifically Sean McAdam of CSN New England, has the Jays in on Lackey FWIW. Even says that Toronto “has been the most aggressive” of the interested teams.

    • And I of course mean Jon Lester, not Lackey. Sorry.

      • Well, I did posit a ridiculous scenario yesterday thast had Lester coming here because Boston wants to resign him, and thus, would be most interested in trading him to a team that he would very likely not extend in. Toronto would probably fit the bill.

        As well, Boston would probably pay all his remaining salary (their on the hook for it anyways, after all, and trading Lester is much more of a “getting useful prospects” move then a “dumpiing salary” move). And if Lester comes for free (money wise) he’s likely to extract a pretty handsome price even though he is just a mere rental.

        • In that scenario, the Jays would still give him a QO (right, he’d be eligible for that?) and get something back in the form of a pick, so you can factor that in as well.

    • I saw that too.

      I wonder if that’s posturing?

      Also wonder if AA might be sniffing around Sox bullpen pieces?

    • Just checked, and damn Lester’s having a good year. He’s obviously a rental, but who cares? Really, who cares at this point?

      • I know it’s probably bullshit, but Lester in blue and white would be amazing.

        I think we know who the Sox would want back, though.

        • Any and every Blue Jay prospect that has been mentioned in any sort of positive way over the past six months.

          • They might want Buffalo too. The whole city.

          • Interestingly, the Sox seem to have a very reasonable asking price for Lester compared to the Phillies and Hamels. One blue-chipper plus at least one lesser guy. That works out to Sanchez and Pompey, plus a lottery ticket. Steep, but not as steep as the Phils.

            • Hamels is signed for the next 5 years and Lester is a free agent in three months. The price difference should be substantial.

              I don’t think I would give up a top prospect for a rental at this point. I would be all over Hamels, though.

        • I think everyone (including Cherington) would know that Sanchez and Stroman are off limits. Not that that’s going to stop them from asking, of course, but I can’t imagine they’d be too shocked to be rebuffed.

          I’d be down with pretty much anyone else though. Pompey+ Nolin or Norris+Nolin. That’s a pretty nice haul for Boston considering (assuming they resign him like they plan too) they would only lose 2 months of Lester in a season they’re not contending in anyways.

          • Still gives me the “empowering your division rival” heebyjeebies.

          • I’d prefer Nolin + Pompey, but it seems clear that Boston wouldn’t.
            Stroman is not moving, but if we can keep Norris and Pompey by moving Sanchez, maybe that’s the answer.

            • Moving Sanchez to a div rival for a pending FA seems suicidal to me. I would love him on the Jays, but I really don’t want Sanchez coming back to fuck the Jays 5 times a year.

    • AA won’t move Pompey or Norris for a rental. If I’m AA I’m going two ways. A straight up deal for Hutchison or prospect quantity like Nolin, Nay and two scrubs.

  4. Re: Josh Rubin’s article: how the hell can he consider Steve Karsay a “bust”?? Anyone who has an 11-year MLB career is NOT a bust.

    • 11 bWAR in 11 seasons isn’t awful, but I think Rubin is labelling him a bust relative only to his draft position. Although, in fairness, the only two players selected after Karsay to have a higher WAR (from the first two rounds only) are Rondell White and Bob Wickman. Chipper obviously leads that draft with 85 WAR and likely HOF induction, so you may have a point there.

  5. So when it comes to money, is Rogers freeing up the purse strings for things like analytics, or medical staff, or are those positions still only occupied by unpaid interns?

  6. ‘Bout last night…I’m going to really try not to get as excited about the Jays winning 14-1 during a stretch of great baseball as I was down about the Jays losing 14-1 during a stretch of lousy baseball.

    This season has had me careening back from agony to ecstacy more than any Jays team since the 1980′s. It’s fucking great.

    • What we should be happy about is the Jays winning games that they are supposed to be winning. This is the softest the Jays’ schedule gets (along with the wknd series vs. Houston) save for the two series they have left vs. Boston. Orioles, Tigers, Mariners and White Sox come up after that.

    • How bout baseball, eh?

  7. Regarding the shedding of catching, I’m Kratz’s biggest fan.
    But this move may speak more to the fact that the Jays scouts are confident that AJ Jimenez could do just as well as Kratz if Dinner or Thole got hurt.

    They’ve long loved his defense and now recently he has been hitting well. Been on a pretty hot tear lately, though his triple slash is still a modest .275/.317/.365 in AAA.
    If DInner goes down it will hurt regardless, but AA may be confident that Jimenez could be as adequate as Kratz.

  8. Was listening to the radio broadcast for the first 3 innings last night, and Jerry threw out Ryan Howard as a name the Jays might be interested in, should he become available. Not a name I’ve heard a ton about, but he would be an interesting fit in the Jays Lineup (especially if Edwin is out for the long term).

    • Oh no no no no noooooo.

      He costs a lot (his contract is obscene), and has been horrible for the last three seasons. Can’t field or run either.

    • Sarcasm?

      Howard sucks. Sucks big time. Dan Johnson is better. And he is owed so much money.

    • Yeah, he’s not like a Reyes or Buerhle type player, in that even if their contract is bloated and they’re not worth it, the underlying player is still really good and will help your team.

      Howard is more like Wells after he left Toronto. Huge contract AND just a flat out bad player. Literally, once Lind is back, the team would be worse with Howard. Then factor in paying him $20+ million/year.

      It’s a mess.

    • I’m confident in saying that if the Phillies offered to pay Howard’s entire salary and take literally nothing back in return, the Jays would not do the deal. Howard is horrible

    • anyone else remember that we could’ve had ryan howard 8 years ago if JP had been willing to part with ted lily

  9. By the way Smasher…came to the Game Threat discussion late, have to say your KFC story had me doing the LOL’s.

  10. Don’t read the comments

    • bahaha. Shitting on Melky for “running up the score”?

      It’s one thing to not do strategic moves (sac bunt, steal) when up by a lot. But you stil have to play baseball. you can’t ask the batters to not swing ffs.

      And especially delicious considering hte Sox beat the Jays 14-1 like, a week ago. What a bunch of ass hats.

    • I think you can safely someone is being sarcastic when they use the phrase “jerk face doody head”

  11. On the surface at least, it really looks like the purse strings tightened as soon as the hockey deal went through.

    • Which is absolutely asinine if their thinking is that they can’t give their main content generator for six months a year 15MM dollars after spending 12 BILLION on another content generator. What the fuck do they think is happening that makes hockey broadcasting worth so much and their OWN GODDAMN baseball team worth so little?

      • Do we really think they have anything to do with one another?

        • No, I don’t, but I’m saying that as similar properties (sports content as a vehicle to sell advertising) they at least need to be talked about in the same way.

          $12B to broadcast hockey vs $15MM extra to the baseball team they own? Something is out of joint there. That’s all I’m saying.

          • What’s even more insulting about it is they generate gate revenue from the Jays, so in that case a more competitive teams actually directly correlates with higher profit. Not so with hockey. They are paying to broadcast the games, that’s it.

          • Except it is not $12B, it is “only” $5.2B over 12 years. Plus, there is enough offset in the respective seasons that it makes sense to invest in both, giving you year round content.

        • Yeah, I don’t get how they’re in any way related. Rogers purchased the hockey rights in order to make money. As much as fans hate it, they also own the Blue Jays to make money. If they believe that a payroll increase will be a worthwhile financial investment, they’ll approve the move. If they don’t, they won’t. It has nothing to do with what they’re spending in other areas.

          It’s like me saying I can’t go out to dinner tonight because my dad just bought a new house.

          • No, it’s like your dad saying he can’t go out to dinner because he just bought a house. But the thing is, your dad can afford the dinner and it’s a great dinner and he’ll enjoy it very much. It will benefit him.

  12. Nice, didn’t realize we get the Sto-Show tonight

  13. If ownersip is committed to winning they need to support the current group by giving AA some resources. No excuse. I dont care they spent a shitload of money last offeason. The team is right there in the playoff hunt and could use a nice boost. Unfortunately, rogers has never given any inclination they care about winning. Just sell the damn team to someone who cares.

    • Just to add to that, if they dont understand the magnitude of what a playoff team would mean for the fans after 21 years, they dont deserve to own a team.

      • But they do care about profit, and even a media company has to understand that in sports, winning sells. The increased gate revenue, the playoff profits for playing home games there… There’s no reason not to view a win-now cash infusion as anything less than a short-term investment with a very excellent return.

  14. If rogers doesn’t let the jays add payroll at at time like this lets deface the red rogers statue.

  15. Don’t want Lester. Would be so wack.

    • It wouldn’t be so whack if Lester was pitching for the Jays in a game one or wild card game.

  16. Is there really that much to think about with Gose?

    You have Valencia, Lawrie, EE and Lind coming back. Four guys on the roster have to go and only 2 have options.

    Goins is first, then 2 guys you can most afford to lose. Then Gose simply because he has options. Rosters expand in September and up he comes again.

    I mean. That’s really it. Isn’t it?

    Six weeks of Tolleson and four weeks of Gose > Six weeks of Gose

  17. Interesting comment from Friedman last night saying that he monitors the “hardcore” Blue Jays blogs to gauge the pulse of the fandom.
    Said that the fans blame the hockey deal for the payroll restrictions of the Jays.

  18. so, just a minor correction

    ‘last week Marc Hulet included Taylor Cole among’

    it’s actually Carson Cistulli’s thing, the fringe 5, not Hulet

  19. I wonder if the money thing has changed since the All-Star break.

    They currently have a playoff spot, and look like they’re in a good position.

    Crowds out of the break have been strong, and despite being down in attendance, I think they have a shot to equal or pass last year by a bit. They would need to average around 36,000 a game to get there at this point. If they contend right down to then end, seems plausible. Schedule is pretty strong too as well I think.

  20. So I have this crackpot Ricky Romero theory…

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