September 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Trevor Cahill (35) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Did Blue Jays GM Anthopoulos Tip His Hand On Pitching Moves?

As we sit back and prepare for the flurry of moves (stifled laugh) from the Toronto Blue Jays at the Winter Meetings next week, the news this weekend, at least for Toronto, is trickling in relatively slowly. Perhaps that is a bit uncomfortable for fans that were spoiled last winter, but that is the truth of this winter’s moves to date.

However, when the generally secretive Alex Anthopoulos makes a comment that appears a bit more candid that usual, one has to wonder a bit. The particular comment in question came in an interview Wednesday and documented in Gregor Chisholm’s weekly notebook on Thursday.

“We’re always looking to add. Anyone wants to add a frontline starter each year. We just want to improve the rotation. Clearly the results were what they were last year. Part of that improvement will come internally

There are two notes that are concern to me as a fan, as they should be for you as well.

Firstly, Anthopoulos acknowledges the desire to improve the rotation, but not necessarily by adding a front line starter. That’s a bit concerning because the middle-tiered pitchers that could have helped the Blue Jays and were seen (prior to signing) as relatively reasonably priced, like Scott Kazmir, Ricky Nolasco, and Scott Feldman, have all signed already. Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm,and Bartolo Colon still fit that mold, but that market seems to be pretty tapped out.

That just leaves the top-tiered free agent pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana as available targets. However, as Anthopoulos’ comments seem to indicate, he’s prepared to not enter that arena, which will become decidedly more difficult should Masahiro Tanaka not get posted and with the Yankees now saving the millions from letting Robinson Cano go.

That leads us to the second part of that comment, “part of that improvement will come internally.” That’s an interesting note to add on there, as it would seem to indicate that Toronto is willing to take its chances with hoping for bounce-back campaigns from J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow, as well as contributions from Sean Nolin, Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison. That’s not going to please many fans, who are hoping for a splash this winter while Stroman, Nolan, et al get more work in Buffalo to start the season.

There will be some clambering for a big trade, for the oft-mentioned Jeff Samardzija, Trevor Cahill or Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, or even the pipe dream of David Price. However, considering that Cahill cost the D-Backs Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook, and the fact that he’s under team control for four more seasons as a reasonable rate, the package in return would likely be more than Toronto would be willing to pay.

No, unless there is a seemingly surprise trade partner out there, Toronto has just two paths to walk; pay up in free agency for inferior talent or stand pat. Neither is a good choice, so it comes down to the less of two evils, with no clear winner in the argument.

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  • Justin Jay


    • Bob Loblaw

      Who do we have that they want?

  • John Smith

    Or option three move Buehrle and Happ who don’t have the stuff to be successful in the AL.

    That would free up around 23 million which could be used to go after a frontline starter like garza (18 million per) and Infante (8-10 million per). I doubt AA would be able to pull such a move off though.

    He’d much rather dicker around in the trade market and likely end up either overpaying (with prospects) for mediocre talent like last season or end up with nothing.

    • david s

      I think Buehrle has been pretty successful in the American League you silly sausage. He has thrown a no hitter, won a World Series ring and has pitched over 200 innings for more than a decade. You are the type who always knock AA and Gibby, you throw around broad statements and blame without research or insight. Tsk. I cannot wait for your sophisticated retort… let me guess… FU was your first thought.

      • david s

        PS, I think anyone who takes a ball to the head, gets concussed, fractures their skull and injures their knee to boot and still comes back to earn his pay is alright with me. Happ is good for fifth in the rotation and thus is successful in the AL. You sir, should be ashamed of yourself. You are no Jays fan. Deport yourself to Boston.

        • John Smith

          I never brought up him taking a ball off the noggin you did. What does that have to do with him being able to pitch in the AL anyways? As far as him being a 5th starter goes maybe he can maybe he can’t I’d rather give the job to one of the kids and use his money elsewhere.

          If that makes me a cold hearted bastard so be it.

          • david s

            Yes I did mention it. I did connect Happ getting hurt and being a good pitcher. It proves he has guts. That is what it has to do with him pitching in the American League. If he can be replaced by Stroman so be it. He would accept that because he has guts. It was not his noggin, it was his head. He could have died. Yet, and after he got up, he pitched some really good games. That is why he is thought of as the fourth starter. Stroman, Nolin and Hutchinson are still not being placed higher.

            You also had no retort for Buehrle. Remember the other unsuccessful guy.

            Yes, cold hearted seems about right. You being a bastard is something you must discuss with your mother.

          • brad

            yikes. Take it easy folks.

            @John Smith:
            A couple things: 1) Of all people to get rid of, Beuhrle?? Is he worth the 18 million he is being paid? Probably not but there’s no way you’re going to get someone who will take that full contract and give u any sort of comparable talent back. 2) no you cannot get better value on that 18 million. You want Gaza for 18 million a year? That would be great but hardly money “better used”….. especially because if you got anything back for Beuhrle you would be paying about 5 million of his salary in your dream scenario. Bet you can’t guess who had a better WAR last year. Finally, Beuhrle’s bad contract has only 2 years left where Garza’s would be a bad contract for at least 5 years.

            Not going to go into spending big at 2b suffice to say that the jays need 2 starting pitchers(3 if Beuhrle is traded as you suggest) so it would probably be a bad idea to spend 10 million on a position player free agent when the offence is already looking pretty good for next year.

            I’m not really against trading Happ as it would seem he is expendable but saying he or Beuhrle can’t succeed in the AL is pretty far-fetched….. and I don’t need to call u a bastard or sausage to express that.

          • John Smith

            You have to remember that WAR is cumulative and that had Garza made the same amount of starts that Buehrle did his WAR would have been higher.

            I also think moving beyond the sabermetrics that you can’t count on Buehrle continuing to get by on smoke and mirrors over the next two years in the AL and particularly the Al East. I’d rather move him now while he still has value.

            As far as it only being a two year deal while it is true his replacement would likely be on a longer term deal they would be also much younger and not suffering the decline in stuff that Buehrle is experiencing.

            I mean it used to be with the sox that Buehrle threw 87-88 MPH and could reach back for 92 when he needed to. Now he throws 83-84 and is lucky to get 88 MPH when he needs it.

            We’ve already seen it somewhat catch up with him last season. If the Jays only have to eat 5 million of that what 38-39 million left on his deal to facilitate a trade that would be money well spent as far as I’m concerned.

          • brad

            Yes, WAR is cumulative. It is a measure of how valuable a player is to their team…..which is by definition cumulative. In 8 years, Garza has surpassed 200 innings exactly twice(although he had another season of 198 so I suppose it’s just semantics to exclude that) where Buehrle has 13 in a row.

            If you look at Buehrle’s splits last year, he was an infinitely better in the second half. I think it took him some time to adjust to the homer friendly east. In the first half he gave up twice as many homers as the second half….then he got crafty. I wondered if the dome had something to do with his slightly inflated numbers last year but he was better at home! All of that points to a better 2014. Crafty old pitchers can be successful in this game….. note: Maddux (not that I think Buehrle is as good as Maddux but their strategy is similar)

            Can Garza pitch in the AL? He did a pretty good job of it for 3 seasons(and a crappy job of it at the end of 2013) but shows an ineptitude when it comes to making all of his starts. It also stands to reason that by the last few years of his probably 6 or 7 year contract he will lose velocity as well. Do we think he can adjust like Beuhrle did?

            At the end of the day, Beuhrle is going to give you 200 innings for the next 2 years with an ERA of about 4. Garza is going to give you an average of about 170 innings with an ERA of about 3.8…then decline in the later years of the contract. If yearly money is the same across 2 players like that I take the short contract innings eater because you are going to get more value there AND have more financial flexibility sooner.

            If they dumped Buehrle and signed Tanaka that may be a different story but I would be more for keeping Buehrle and signing whomever anyways

      • John Smith

        None of those things have anything to do with what he can do moving forward. I think the money can be better spent somewhere else and apparently the analytics agree because according fangraphs he was only worth 12.4 million dollars last season (based on WAR) with his WAR numbers projected to stay the same or get slightly worse.

    • Andrew van Laar

      I agree about Happ. I have never been happy with that trade since day one. I think it was the worse trade AA has done to date.

      Buerhle though is a workhouse and as much of a sure thing you can get from a pitcher. Like Brad said, hes not worth $18 million BUT at least you know what you are getting. There is no what ifs regarding him.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Kyle Lohse

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