Alex Anthopoulos joined Bob McCown and Damien Cox yesterday evening on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 (audio here), to speak about the state of his club, the firing of his hitting coach, and– apparently– to spread the gospel of OPS, pitcher wins, batting average, and All-Star appearances.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a team or players excelling at those things, it’s just… elevate the conversation, Alex. Or, at the very least, if you have a bunch of proprietary analytics that you’re using, go ahead and mention that! Please! We’re starting to worry!
Anywho… obviously the topic du jour was the topic of the day, and on Tuesday that was the changes to the coaching staff, with Dwayne Murphy retiring and Chad Mottola being shown the door– or at least the door to the big league club’s dressing room.
Anthopoulos didn’t shy away from answering questions about it, though he was typically short on specifics:
Once Gibby and I talked about it, we just said, ‘You know what? We viewed them as a tandem, and this is a chance to change it up and go in some other direction.’ And Gibby has some guys that he’s worked with in the past, that he has good and strong relationships with. So, it was as much that. But, you know, I’ve talked to Chad, and I’ve told him that the door’s open to stay in the organization, and we can talk, and for him to take a few days and decide what he wants to do. I expect him to get a lot of phone calls; a lot of job offers. He’s well regarded– there’s not going to be an issue with him finding a job– and whether one of another 29 clubs has a big league opportunity, that remains to be seen. But there’s still a scenario that he’ll be back with us, and we’ll just give him as much time as he needs to work it out.
After nearly blowing my fucking brains out having to listen to Damien Cox suggest that “the Moneyball people say defence doesn’t matter anyway,” and Bob McCown suggesting Colby Rasmus– whose .354 wOBA ranks him sixth among centre fielders in MLB this year, just behind Carlos Gomez and Adam Jones, with only Trout, McCutchen and Choo ahead of them– should be hitting at the bottom of the 2014 Jays lineup behind Ryan Goins (!!?!!??!), I managed to catch Alex Anthopoulos speaking on the Fan 590′s Prime Time Sports this evening (audio here).
I won’t transcribe the entire thing, but there were a couple of nuggets that definitely worthy of our attention in a conversation that mostly dealt with the tweaks that will need to be made with the club as they head into 2014. And despite their rather obvious total cluelessness when it comes to certain aspects of ca. 2001 baseball thinking, McCown and Cox correctly identified two key spots where an improvement to even just average would be a huge help to the club: second base and behind the plate.
At Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith has a rundown of comments that Alex Anthopoulos made on today’s Brady and Lang on the Fan 590, and while Ben does an excellent job of pulling key strands, I can’t very well just paste a link to his work and wash my hands of it, as much as I may want to. So I’ll go one better and add my own thoughts to what he’s relaying to us as well!
“He’s going to get a clean slate again next spring. Very good chance he comes off of the roster in the off-season. I told him that ahead of time, just for the 40-man spot. He’ll come in next spring, he’ll come in and compete and hopefully he’ll start fresh and he can get it turned around.”
I wrote earlier in the week that Romero could elect free agency if he’s outrighted a second time, which is true, though if my reading of the CBA is correct this time– and that’s always going to be dicey– the Jays would not be on the hook for the rest of his deal in the same way they would be if they’d released him and he signed elsewhere. Romero, then, wouldn’t have any incentive to elect free agency, which is why Anthopoulos suggests that he’ll be back in the spring, trying again to earn himself a place on the roster.
In the piece linked above, I argue that it’s possible that the club has promoted and shown faith in him, despite an inconsistent (to put it politely) year in Triple-A, largely in the hope that such a message is received by other clubs who may have interest in Romero as a reclamation project, and not so much because they hope to get anything out of him on the field. Both Anthopoulos and Romero– who spoke on yesterday’s radio broadcast– have been saying the right things, though, and being positive about a bad situation, so… maybe I’m wrong. And maybe the market isn’t nearly so desperate for bad pitching as I want to believe.
Even those of us who have been softest on Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays through this disastrous season– guilty as charged!– understand that changes need to be made to the Blue Jays. As we take a frustratingly long look ahead to April of 2014, coming to the realization that the possibility of a splashy winter on par with last year’s is pretty remote, it means convincing fans that things are still on the right track is almost certainly going to be a tough sell for Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston.
It’s not as though they’re unfamiliar with the task– they’ve been faced with that possibility ahead of every other off-season since J.P. Ricciardi made his exit. But this time it’s different. This time there’s got to be significant pressure from Rogers to keep momentum going after a strong year at the gate, and a lot of money spent and committed to the next two seasons.
It will be interesting to see, then, how the Jays go about trying to sell a fan base sick of unfulfilled optimism on the hope of 2014, and who should and shouldn’t remain from the current setup that failed so badly this season.
Today we got a little taste of how that might work, as Alex Anthopoulos held a scrum with reporters in which he gave as frank an admission of where his head is at as we’ve heard lately, acknowledging once and for all that, here on August 27th, the focus is on next spring.
Much of what he told reporters has already surfaced on Twitter, so… uh… here it is:
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.”
I seem to recall trying to live blog a chat that Richard Griffin had with readers at the Toronto Star once, and that it didn’t go particularly well. And yet, apparently that’s not going to stop me from trying it again, as the Toronto Sun is hosting a live chat with Alex effing Anthopoulos, beginning at 11:15 AM ET today, and I figure it’s worth following along.
Yesterday Alex Anthopoulos was the guest on the CBC’s Mansbridge One On One– a 22-minute sit down that you can see in its entirety at CBC.ca. (Don’t be lazy– watch their ads.)
I wasn’t going to post it, because CBC hasn’t made the clip embeddable and it’s not really worth a full post to just point you all to a link, but– smart guy that I am– I decided to do a quick search of YouTube for it, which turned me on to the fact that some genius has already gone to the trouble of posting it there. I’m not sure how fanatical the nation’s public broadcaster is when it comes to getting their content removed from there, but if these do end up being taken down, you can always just go to the link above for the full clip.
“Alex Anthopoulos, General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, talks about the state of baseball in Canada today, the changes to the Toronto Blue Jays over the winter, and what lies ahead for the team,” explains the description. So there you go.