Tag Archives: Alex Anthopoulos

Blue Jays Missed Opportunity With David Price

david priceEveryone is aware by now that the Toronto Blue Jays failed to even offer David Price a contract to remain a member of the team. President Mark Shapiro was clear on this when he told John Lott of the National Post when asked about bidding on Price,

“Not that aggressively,” he said, as one might have expected. “For me with David Price, it’s never a question of, ‘Do you want David Price?’ That’s silly. Of course, yes, we want David Price. It’s a question of how do you build a championship team within the parameters you’re given. It’s as simple as that.”

Continue reading by clicking here→

Process vs. Intuition

alex beardToday during new Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro’s introductory press conference, one point he made jumped out to me:

“General managers don’t make moves, they make recommendations,” Shapiro said. “If GM’s process is good, my job to approve the decision is easy.”

The key term here is process. Would Alex Anthopoulos like to go through a process or procedure to prove that every move he wants to make is a good one? Would he want to fight tooth and nail for every little manoeuvre, no matter how small, that he wanted to make? We all know what that’s like in our personal lives; trying to explain ourselves to someone always questioning our decisions. I’d get tired of that fast and it’s more clear to me now than ever why Alex did not accept his extension offer.

This whole situation smells of distrust. Why put a “process” in place if you have complete faith and trust in the person running the organization? Obviously Rogers didn’t and subsequently brought in Shapiro to run the business and baseball side.

What’s become clear in Alex’s evolution as a GM is that he has learned to trust his intuition. He followed process in hiring former manager John Farrell; he checked off all the boxes on his list. Farrell seemed like the right hire based on whatever such and such criteria Alex initially had for his first managerial hire, and made the decision based on what his brain told him was right. He later admitted that he didn’t follow his gut and obviously saw how that decision did not work out. He absolutely went with his gut later on to give current manager John Gibbons the reins and it turned out beautifully as we just witnessed this October.

Furthermore, last offseason Alex became acutely aware of the need for higher character guys in the clubhouse hence the need to sign Russell Martin and to trade for Josh Donaldson. How would you prove those decisions through process? The fact is that it isn’t always easy.

Additionally, Alex felt the need to supplement his roster this summer with some big acquisitions not the least of which was Troy Tulowitzki. Process, or using one’s logical mind to make rational decisions, said not to do the Tulo trade as the majority of his staff felt; that they needed pitching instead. But Anthopoulos felt otherwise. Yes it was to fix a mistake he made with acquiring Jose Reyes initially, but he recognized the need to fix it and improved the team and moved on. Low and behold, it worked out marvellously.

Then he just so happened to call Dave Dombrowski and inquired about David Price’s availability.  Coincidence? Right place, right time? I think not.

Through it all, Alex acquired Revere, Hawkins, Lowe, and Pennington because he knew he could reach the post-season with some key reinforcements. He had faith in his roster. Process wouldn’t have done that. Process would rather dictate and reason that you’d be giving up way too many young prospects. Process would tell you that you’d be mortgaging the future and that you’d be taking too much of a risk.

Process can kiss it. If a guy knows without a shadow of doubt what his intuition is telling him and trusts those feelings, then everyone better get out of his way and let him do what feels right.

We’ve lost a good one here in Anthopoulos my friends. Sure Shapiro said all the right things today, as expected. But you can’t replace an inner knowing that Alex had surely developed, with something of a more logical nature, like process.

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.

Notes on Blue Jays State of the Franchise

The following are some notes from the annual Blue Jays State of the Franchise event held at Rogers Centre, which was streamed live online.

GM Alex Anthopoulos explained his offseason goals in “getting more durable” guys like Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson. He mentioned improving the defense was a priority and he accomplished that with the Michael Saunders and Martin acquisitions. He also wanted to change the mix of the club, saying “we’ve added [to the roster], we’ve gotten better.”

The projected lineup and rotation flashed on the screen showing the following:

Reyes, SS

Martin, C

Bautista, RF

Encarnacion, DH

Donaldson, 3B

Smoak, 1B

Saunders, LF

Pompey, CF

2B

And they had Aaron Sanchez penciled into the fifth spot of the rotation.

Anthopoulos made it clear however that “things can still happen,” that they’re still talking to teams about trades, there’s still free agents out there, so there’s a scenario where Sanchez could still end up in the bullpen as a late relief arm.

Buck Martinez reiterated to the fans in attendance and those streaming the event live online “don’t get too concerned about your team until opening day” pointing to the fact that potential moves could still be made to bolster the bullpen, even during spring training.

Paul Beeston said regarding grass being put in Rogers Centre, “We can get the sun, we can get the water,” it’s just the air currents that they’re looking into. Apparently, they signed a contract today with the University of Guelph to research this issue.

Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said that reports on infielder Maicer Izturis are good, that “he’s in the best condition he’s ever been.” So that’s good because he’ll challenge to be the starting second baseman when the club heads north. Gibbons also reiterated that prospect Devon Travis will get a good look in the spring as well and he might just run away with it “if he’s ready”.

More from Anthopoulos, as he said “we’ve wanted Saunders for three years now,” as he mentioned how pleased he thinks fans will be of his “gold glove” defense in left field. He’s a “very excited” player to be on this Blue Jays team right now. The Mariners also claimed J.A. Happ on trade waivers (last August), so interest was there for the eventual trade to transpire between those two players.

Anthopoulos said that “Sanchez could have been our best pitcher last year” which is some high praise to put on a rookie, and yet very exciting for fans to contemplate for the coming season. He also made a Matt Harvey mention when talking about prospect Daniel Norris and what he can potentially bring to the team.

Beeston also shared that he spoke with new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred the other day about the Blue Jays hosting another All-Star game. “We’re going to put a proposal together,” he said. “We deserve it. It’s our turn!”  Quite right, it’s been 25 years since the last one in 1991 when Kirby Puckett hit a home run derby ball into the soup out in Windows Restaurant.

Lastly, Anthopoulos shared some insights on the Melky Cabrera negotiations, saying they talked to Melky early on in the offseason, and once again when the Saunders deal was on the burner. At that time, Alex was informed that Melky would be open to a three or four year deal, thereby implying that he was initially looking for five years. Ultimately, they were too far down the road with Saunders and they spent a fair chunk of money on Martin already. “Martin was a better fit,” Anthopoulos said.

Anthopoulos: Villain or Hero?

There's no telling what Anthopoulos has in the cards.

There’s no telling what Anthopoulos has in the cards.

The Dark Knight – kind of made me think of Alex Anthopoulos over the course of the last week especially when you think about how Batman played the villain, but in actuality was the hidden hero. Anthopoulos is definitely getting villainized right now, rightly so I might add, however there’s no telling what he has in mind. By all accounts, he’s set his targets on some players to trade for or sign via free agency – all of which are up in the air until he can talk to agents following Tuesday’s start to free agency.

Flexibility is one thing that every beat reporter, and Anthopoulos himself, is pointing at as one goal to accomplish this offseason. However, trading Lind away for likely a long reliever is hardly ideal, especially how he’s been an asset the last two years. True, his back has landed him on the DL several times and Anthopoulos has talked about having players who are consistently healthy. It’s too bad his roster doesn’t possess much of those position player types though.

I understand the benefit in dealing Lind frees up occasional DH time for Reyes and any one else who’s hurting or needing rest. With Reyes at DH, one of Encarnacion or Lind would have to sit due to their positional inflexibility. Still, it pangs me to say I wish Reyes was capable of playing his position adequately and the need to spell him at times wasn’t necessary. Then Anthopoulos could have kept his core intact in the middle of the lineup. (Cue pent-up anger).

From a blogger’s perspective, the Orioles and Athletics appear to be two organizations to try and model the Jays after. The A’s utilize platoons that create roster depth and flexibility. The O’s as well had flexibility all over the diamond with good depth too (not mediocre like the Jays seem to have) to cover all their injuries. The thing is though, how many platoons can you reasonably have? As things stand now, the Jays have platoons lined up in LF, CF, 2B, DH or 1B (depending on where Encarnacion plays); that equals too many weak players in my book.

In terms of tradable solutions, I look at the Dodgers who could potentially offer 2B or 3B or RP help via trade in return for a Happ or even Buehrle conceivably. Similarly in Cleveland, there’s talk of moving someone like a Bourn, Kipnis or Chisenhall, so possibilities might pop up there. Pittsburgh too has a logjam at first base where Pedro Alvarez could be available, but I think Toronto now wants to target more contact type players who put the ball in play as opposed to being prone to the dreaded K.

As much as I dislike the Jays picking up Justin Smoak while still keeping Juan Francisco on the roster, the off-season has just begun. Anthopoulos still has time to turn himself from villain to hero.

Blue Jays’ 2015 Budget and Free Agent Targets

anthopoulos1The fact that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has stated that none of his stars are going anywhere, it gives fans some hope that maybe there’s another kick in the can somewhere with the current core – not without some hopeful roster additions though. But how much money will Anthopoulos have to work with?

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star accurately surmised that, as of right now, the Jays have will have a 2015 payroll of approximately $127.7 M…Continue reading→

Blue Jays 2014 Post-Mortem

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Image via Ian at BlueJayHunter.

Anxiousness; that is one word on how I would characterize this Blue Jays season from the fan’s perspective since at no point, aside from May and early June, were the Jays playing at a level where all cylinders were clicking. Don’t get me wrong, watching the Jays in first place for 45 days was superbly fantastic, but then bit by bit, they wilted down and limped into September needing a hot month to get back into the playoff picture. Their 9-2 record from August 30th to September 10th got fans excited again, but like the extreme streakiness they’ve been known for this season, it didn’t last…Continue reading→

Blue Jays Need Another Right-Handed Bat

alex-anthopoulos

Since June 27th, the second game of a four-game set with the White Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays have faced four lefties (John Danks, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Tommy Milone) and have lost all four games. They’re also set to face Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills (this may change with the big trade) in Oakland, and then at least C.J. Wilson in Anaheim, and David Price in Tampa before the All-Star break…Continue reading→

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.

Highlights from State of the Franchise

me state of the franchise

Last night, I had the privilege of attending my first State of the Franchise event at Rogers Centre, and here are the main highlights from the Q&A session:

1) Anthopoulos spoke of the emergence that both Bautista and Encarnacion experienced as players while with the Blue Jays and pretty much said for fans to believe in the club because of the potential for others to emerge. I believe this absolutely refers to Goins and Lawrie with even further gains to be gleaned from the likes of Rasmus and Lind.

2) As the below tweet shows, Gibbons got his words criss-crossed at one point by referring to Happ as A.J. instead of J.A.

Needless to say, signing Burnett would be a huge gain for the organization. Personally, I’d love to see him back in Toronto especially after the quality of performance he’s shown in Pittsburgh the last two years. Considering he wasn’t successful in winning a championship his first go around with the organization, maybe he can be a part of it this time! I think that would make his former mentor, Roy Halladay, a little bit happy.

3) Anthopoulos also said Sierra would absolutely be given a shot in the spring to win the right handed DH job due to the fact that he’s out of options, however it is no guarantee. No doubt, AA is looking for a RH bat to platoon with Lind, and I believe he will eventually find someone to fill that role, the most likely of which will involve a trade during this spring of one of his surplus, out of options, relievers.

4) Perhaps the most revealing highlight of the night was from Gibbons who said that Kevin Seitzer was brought in to be that “veteran” hitting coach compared to that of the former Chad Mottola. This clearly speaks to how Mottola pretty much left Bautista and Encarnacion alone and focused instead on the younger players who needed more support. Clearly, Gibbons thought the team needed a more veteran presence and spoke last night of the effect that hits to the opposite field can have. He specifically mentioned how Bautista and Encarnacion can take that approach as well especially in games against the league’s best pitchers. Personally, I love this mindset because Bautista, although still great, is in decline and could use some useful tools in his back pocket to take to the plate with him as opposed to always looking to knock one out.

Aside from that, I was fortunate to shake hands with John Gibbons, and learned that he loves his breakfast taco’s in the morning!! Seriously though, watching him meander amongst the fans gave me the impression that he really is an incredibly upbeat, jovial and fun-loving guy. Essentially, J.P. Riccardi was right when he said, if you can’t work for John Gibbons, you can’t work for no one. For me as a fan, it’s impossible not to love him.

As you can see from above, I got a quick picture with AA, and was able to chat with a couple of other bloggers like Ian Hunter from BlueJayHunter.com, and Gideon Turk & Chris Sherwin from BlueJaysPlus.com. They also wrote stories on the event and you can check them out by clicking on the links above.