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Recapping a Vengeful Few Days

fire

An angry mob of Jays fans await Mark Shapiro and Rogers.

I just got to work at 7:20 a.m. Thursday morning and got the notification on my phone around five minutes later. Alex was gone. I was like, “No way, this couldn’t be! Davidi must be wrong. How could this be possible?” Then more tweets stated the same. I was numb; totally in shock. I honestly didn’t know how I was to get through work that day. Somehow I managed with a rain cloud clinging over my head.

Turns out, the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin was right when he wrote just the previous Monday how the thought something like this could be brewing. It was fear mongering, I thought. It couldn’t possibly be true because Alex just took this team to the playoffs! Then Michael Grange of Sportsnet wrote a similar yet more logical sentiment about when Rogers might have began talks with Mark Shapiro. In the end, Grange wondered how Rogers can tell Shapiro, “Sorry, Alex keeps control of baseball decisions.” If only that was an option. I know, wishful thinking on my part.

Here’s some more links on this story that I thought added to it:

Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star says Rogers shouldn’t have even hired a baseball man to be its President. Doing so almost assuredly put the writing on the wall for Alex. And by losing Alex, Shapiro inherits a furious fan base.

Steve Simmons writes from the Toronto Sun saying Shapiro insulted Anthopoulos with a one year contract offer plus an option.

Bob Elliott also of the Sun gives Rogers and Shapiro a good mouthful! Good for Bob!

John Lott of the National Post writes how Alex took the high road refusing to reveal what led him out.

In Anthopoulos’ Monday end of season press conference, he said he’s gone about his usual business ranking lists of players he would target this offseason. It wouldn’t surprise me if David Price was number one on that list and Shapiro’s choice was different. This would speak to a difference in philosophy in how to run the future of this club.

In one of his numerous on-air interviews with Sportsnet590 (I think it was with Bob McCowan), Alex said that, “I’m a big chain of command guy.” That seemed like an oxymoron. If he’s fine with a chain of command, then stay. But to me, clearly he’s not okay with it. I can’t blame him though for not returning if he wouldn’t have full control on baseball decisions. He deserves that after what he’s done.

Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail shares perhaps the most enlightening tidbit. He had a private conversation with Alex back in mid-September where Alex revealed that he wasn’t sure if he’d be coming back. While he places a lot of misplaced blame on Shapiro, he’s correct in saying that Mark has to win or else this fan base will forever feel disappointed with him leading the ship.

Furthermore, Jon Heyman writes at CBS how Shapiro might have rubbed Alex the wrong way with some criticisms. I didn’t buy previous reports of a ‘scolding’ but perhaps there’s something to this. Maybe Shapiro deserves some blame after all.

Now yesterday, Edward Rogers told Shi Davidi regarding Alex, “His job had not changed at all. His direct manager will change, but his breadth of scope and responsibility had not changed. We had full confidence in him.”  Rogers added later, “…in his tenure as GM, every time he had made a request that went upstairs, it got approval. Every deal he brought forward the company has endorsed and supported him, and obviously with the season we just came off, he’d have stronger credibility with everyone.”

Except Ed, you didn’t give the money to Alex to sign Ervin Santana, did you? Players had to offer up money and take contract deferrals so they could sign him, which didn’t even end up happening. This above statement is also very telling in that it sounds like they didn’t trust Alex or believe in him enough to extend him much earlier. To Rogers, only now with a playoff appearance does he have credibility. Maybe if they didn’t leave him to finish off his last season under contract as a lame-duck GM, things might have been different. Where’s the vote of confidence? Who knows, maybe Alex still gets fired after 2015 if the team didn’t perform. At least then, he’d still presumably collect on any remaining length of contract signed giving him a blanket of security.

And Ed, don’t kid me on his role not changing. It’s clear now that Shapiro wouldn’t have taken this job if it wasn’t a promotion for him; that is, he needed to have final say on player personnel. You essentially offered Alex a demotion.

Again from Sportsnet, Shi Davidi also reported that one executive said, “The process in Cleveland was probably more collaborative than what Alex is used to.” I don’t really buy that one either. In Toronto, Alex was known as one to get opinions from everybody and draw a consensus from the whole group on staff. Ultimately, he would make the final call, as it seems he did with the Tulowitzki trade where, reportedly, the majority of staff opted not to proceed with it. Alex did it anyway because it improved the offense and defense at shortstop. The guy knew what he had to do to improve the team, fixed the mistake he made with Reyes, and had the balls to actually do it. And somehow, this guy is not our GM any more?!

So what happens now? I think it’s safe and sadly to assume that the Jays won’t be players for David Price, or Marco Estrada. Price will be too expensive if the Jays hold to their current budget, and Shapiro will probably want to collect a draft pick on Marco. How then is this new President going to win over fans?

Another factor to think about is payroll. According to reports and after making some presumptuous assertions (like non-tendering Ben Revere), Bluebird Banter thinks the Jays will have about $31.6 million to spend this offseason out of a budget near $140 million. This obviously begs the question: why is Rogers keeping payroll the same after record TV numbers and pulling in an estimated $82 million (estimate via Jays Journal) from their August to October run?

In the end, Shapiro and Rogers have some explaining to do! I, like so many others, are understandably extremely angry and upset. What goodwill the team had is gone just like that.

 Photo via @JHagholm1.

Drew Hutchison’s Road Troubles Go Back to 2014

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 8: Drew Hutchison #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes his way from the bullpen to the dugout before the start of MLB game action against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

TORONTO, CANADA – JUNE 8: Drew Hutchison #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes his way from the bullpen to the dugout before the start of MLB game action against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 8, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

So far in 2015, it’s been well documented the road struggles of Blue Jays’ starter, Drew Hutchison, who sports a .372 BA against opposing hitters on the road versus a minuscule .219 BA at Rogers Centre. The thing is though, it hasn’t just been a problem this year; this goes back to 2014.

For those that recall, Hutchison, rather curiously, had a hard time pitching at home early in ’14 …Continue reading→

A Primer on Blue Jays’ Pitching Depth

Liam HendriksThe need for the Toronto Blue Jays to bolster their relief corps this offseason has been well documented. Meanwhile, they’ve been pretty busy stock piling minor league free agents or claiming pitchers off waivers that have been designated for assignment.  Will any of these pitchers stand up and make a statement in 2015 à la Juan Perez and Neil Wagner, or are the Jays kidding themselves that any of these players are worth keeping around? Here’s an introductory look at the relatively unknown pitchers the Blue Jays have acquired recently. Thanks to Roster Resource for the list… Continue reading→

In Defense of R.A. Dickey

dickey raIan Hunter of BlueJayHunter.com published an interesting article the other day regarding R.A. Dickey’s teammate-ability which stemmed from Jeff Blair’s interview with Blue Jays’ play by play voice Jerry Howarth. In it, Blair noted how he thinks Dickey has a “benign influence” – that is zero influence on his team. While it’s absolutely a plausible statement to make – many of us can very simply see on the broadcasts how the Blue Jays’ young guns clearly gravitated around Mark Buehrle – at the same time, I’ve also observed Dickey usually conversing with teammates on a one-on-one basis in a more intimate and private setting. So to say zero influence may be a bit much.

As far as Dickey’s “hermit-like personality” goes, I definitely get that. He’s been through many life-altering events as was detailed in his book, Wherever I Wind Up, and in my view, perhaps has evolved enough in his life where he’s sufficiently confident in himself to be his own man.  In other words, he could have a solidly formed identity of self where he knows what he is (an instrument of God as he details in said book) and as such doesn’t need to be well-liked or to fraternalize to feel like he’s a part of the team. Furthermore, the guy cheated on his wife and still managed to salvage the relationship. That speaks to a devotion and level of commitment to make things right with his family, and perhaps he realizes what is more important; after all, baseball is just a game.

Howarth goes on to say that Dickey’s been very “difficult to get to know”, a “man unto himself on an island”, which isn’t the first time he’s mentioned this idea to his radio audience. This anti-social behaviour towards Howarth is certainly more baffling and therefore more difficult to defend because in my mind who wouldn’t want to establish a relationship with your own team’s radio voice – someone who is more likely to sing your praises to the home town faithful.

In the Blair interview, Howarth also commented on Buehrle, saying “It’s not about him”, which implies that he’s there for his teammates as a supporter, a listener, and someone who takes younger players under the proverbial wing. Ego isn’t involved with Buehrle and therefore, he puts the team ahead of himself. Howarth can’t say the same about Dickey. Still, is it right to bemoan a person that you don’t yet know?

Being in the Zone: Is It Sustainable?

mind3 originalThink back for a moment to the July 4th game in Oakland where the Blue Jays lost 1-0 in 12 innings and left ten runners on base. Steve Tolleson just led off the top of the 5th with a double. What do you think the next three hitters were thinking? Were they fretting over failure in this situation, or were they calm and focused in the batters box, totally relaxed and confident?

When hitters get into hot streaks or are thought of as being clutch, they … Continue reading→

Esmil Rogers: Still Worth Keeping Around?

Esmil Rogers

Last year, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Esmil Rogers provided value to the team as a good long reliever and spot starter that spanned 20 starts. He amassed 137.2 IP in 2013, and in his five wins, he was completely dominate (.153/.186/.204 batting line against) versus his nine loses (.410/.476/.701), so clearly when he’s on, he’s lights out.

For 2014 however, thoughts of a possible… Continue reading→

The Remarkable Case of Jesse Chavez

Jesse Chavez

As of April 24th, 2014, Oakland Athletics’ starting pitcher Jesse Chavez ranks third in the league for ERA (1.38), sixth for both WHIP (0.92) and BB/9 (1.73), and fifth for K/BB ratio (5.6) after only four starts. This is from a guy who’s been through six other organizations and was an emergency fill-in for Oakland after two starting pitchers went down with injury.

The fact of the matter is that the Toronto Blue Jays could have…Continue reading→

Varying Opinions and Fifth Starters

Here’s a quick post about a favourable couple of articles I’ve posted recently at Players View. First, if you and your friends had to rank the players by position in the AL East, how would it turn out? Would it vary a bit, or be kind of similar? Click here to find out just how varied a ranking can be amongst fans of other AL East teams.

Secondy, I looked at the fifth starter competition in Cleveland, which was of interest to see who had the inside track at the job. Speaking of fifth starters, do you agree with this:

I don’t know where Sportsnet’s Zwelling is coming from, but to me, Santana’s always been a #3 starter except for last year when he was a #2 behind James Shields in Kansas City. I’d envision a rotation of Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Santana and then likely Hutchison so the Jays can separate two righties with Buehrle.

Let’s hope Santana chooses the Jays, baby!

Will the Blue Jays have to blow it all up?

Last night on Sportsnet590, with Jeff Sammut, Sportsnet’s own Shi Davidi was on the air and essentially said that the Jays are weary of signing someone like Ervin Santana because what if they get stuck with a bad contract if the team is unsuccessful this year and have to blow it all up. This kind of defeatist thinking, if true, completely befuddles me. How does this kind of attitude inspire belief and confidence to its players, its fans, and to the entire organization?

Now I have to admit, I’m not certain if this was just Davidi’s own perception of the Jays, or if he’s actually heard this line of thinking from within because I was unable to find the audio link to have a listen again. If it’s just Davidi speaking for himself, then fine, it’s absolutely okay to speculate about the future. But if it’s from actual talk he’s heard within the Blue Jays, then verbalizing such a comment a media guy such as Davidi about this possibility is just utter bewildering.

Yes, I readily admit, there is that potential of having to start from scratch should this team not make a strong push in 2014. Selling off assets this July or in next year’s hot stove makes sense given the value that would be associated with these players that have another year or two remaining on their contracts. Just look at the contracts below that are soon expiring (all info from Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

2015 2016 2017 2018
Buehrle last year $15M
Dickey $12M $12M option
Morrow $10M option
Happ $6.7M option
Romero $7.5M $13.1M option
Reyes $22M $22M $22M $22M option
Bautista $14M $14M option
Encarnacion $10M $10M option
Lind $7.5M option $8M option
Izturis $3M $3M option
Navarro last year $5M
Thole option
Santos $6M option $8M option $8.75M option
McGowan $4M option

Clearly there is a window for the next two years and maybe even for 2016 should most of the options be picked up, but beyond that, it’s a whole new ball game. Yet that is hardly a reason to not sign Santana. We all know what the cost is; 4 years at $50M is the going rate now, the same as Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza and just one million dollars more than Ricky Nolasco. Santana would just be another asset that the Jays could potentially trade if they fall down this distressing path.

Personally, I’d much rather see a signing and proclamation that says, “yes, we’re in this race and believe in ourselves. We’re going to do whatever it takes to bring a winner back to this city,” and so forth.

And given how Happ, Stroman and Redmond have pitched so far this spring, maybe there will still be such a signing (or trade) and proclamation … but that remains to be seen.

Trying to Validate Blue Jays Relying on Internal Options

By now, everyone’s seen the latest comments by Alex Anthopoulos via Jayson Stark of ESPN, “We’d love to add a starter to maintain that depth,” Anthopoulos said. “But we’re comfortable with what we have. If the right guy were to come along at the right price, we’re definitely open-minded to the idea of adding one more starting pitcher.

“But again, we’re comfortable with our internal options.”

Say what?

The common theme earlier in this offseason was that the Jays need to do something to not only make the starting pitching stronger but also to show something to the casual fan that would maintain their interest and ultimately propel the Jays to the promised land! Now the team is spewing lines like the above indicating that they’re okay with what they have. Richard Griffin had a nice commentary about how AA said this and AA said that, however considering that right now nothing has materialized to improve the team, this offseason is an utter failure.

At the State of the Franchise event, AA used terms like emergence by referring to players like Bautista and Encarnacion that have only become what they’ve become thanks to this organization.  Even R.A. Dickey is preaching that there are real sleepers on this team that every organization needs in order to win championships. In essence, we as fans are being told to wait and watch what we already have. The common fan however cries “give me a solid starter!” and that is hard to argue with.

Common sense dictates that the Blue Jays buy another pitcher to combat injuries that will invariably occur, and to bide time for the young arms in the minors while awaiting an opening thus creating sufficient depth that all organizations need. It really does make sense. But somehow, the Blue Jays are going against that grain by drawing a line in the sand and telling all listeners that they will not budge from their own interval valuations of free-agent pitchers. In the end, what they are left with are their internal options which by the way, they’re quite comfortable with it seems.

Let’s pretend we’re a Blue Jays analyst working in the Baseball Operations department, deep in the bowels of the Rogers Centre underbelly, we’ve done some number crunching, manipulated some variables and the computer spits out the following comparables:

i) Marcus Stroman is our Michael Wacha – see below.

ii) Drew Hutchison is our Shelby Miller – hey, why not another Cardinal.

iii) Kyle Drabek is our Charlie Morton – two guys that have had injuries. Morton’s been pretty okay since his return to the Pirates.

iv) Sean Nolin is our Tony Cingrani or Jeff Locke – good lefty arms.

v) Todd Redmond is our Kevin Slowey — the April 2013 one, not the May, June, July, August or September 2013 one.

vi) Esmil Rogers is our Scott Feldman – a reliever turned starter had success last year.

vii) Rickey Romero is our Scott Kazmir — the reinvented one, not the one that was out of baseball for two years prior.

viii) Finally, probably for 2015 though, Aaron Sanchez is this year’s Archie Bradley.

Are you buying any of these comparables? Didn’t the 2012 Jays fall into a lack of depth as a result of relying on two many young guys to hold rotation spots that went down due to injury?

To go a full season with this list of pitchers is questionable at best. A lot has to break right for any one from this list to even resemble their respective comparable. It just doesn’t infuse confidence to the fan base, and if this doesn’t work, AA will have to be ready to pack his bags should this experiment implode.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be the one with egg on my face after this season. I’d like to hope that the front office knows what it’s doing and us fans can just enjoy the ride. I really hope that’s the case.