Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Did Alex Anthopoulos Lie About Improving Starting Pitching?


Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos did want to improve the starting rotation. He desperately did. The tragedy is that he was caught between three very large rocks.

Firstly, there were few free agents available and they were vastly over-priced. Look at how Minnesota over-paid for their two new starting pitchers that are not stratosphere guys. Yikes.

RHP Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal

RHP Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal

Secondly, Anthopoulos could not trade with other MLB managers because they wanted too much. Look at Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein. He wanted Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez for Jeff Samardzija. Ridiculous.

Thirdly, Alex Anthopoulos also could not get a free agent to come to Toronto because after the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays are seen as injured, cursed losers who will not contend any time soon. Pitchers are not like supermarket products. They have free will where they want to go. The AL East is a hard place on pitchers. That is why Ervin Santana and Josh Johnson are in the National League. Bile tastes bad, doesn’t it?

I love the Jays, but without that pitching help that Anthopoulos said he would get, but couldn’t, the Jays are living on hope. They have little chance of winning the AL East. The competition in this Division got stronger, instead of weaker. The Jays have to play the AL East clubs more times than other teams outside their division, making that a tough hurdle to overcome.

One can say that it is too early to give up, but brothers and sisters, it already is too late to find a way to improve. The Jays have to wait several more years until their farm system makes them a power again. Then the free agents and deals will come easier. Everyone loves a winner.

Is there a possibility the Jays will win their division this year? Yes, but the vast majority of Jays players on the team would have to have career seasons. That is the only way. Hope that is the case.

The only fault with Alex Anthopoulos this off-season is not dishonesty. The man is the definition of integrity. He just did not have what Napoleon I valued in all his generals…. luck.

Tags: Alex Anthopoulos Featured Popular Toronto Blue Jays

  • Hussein Mire

    Okay enough JJ writers.
    I’m a pessimistic sports fan and I have had it with your nonsense. We didn’t
    sign Ervin Santana (we can’t compete)! We didn’t sign Ubaldo Jimenez
    (we can’t compete)! Stop it stop it. With the exception of the Rays, every
    other AL east team has some potential major flaws. Yanks
    their entire rotation is filled with question marks. Sabathia’s 2013,
    was it a bad year or beginning of the end? I understand he lost a
    bunch if weight but losing a bunch of weight did not help Brett Cecil in 2012.
    Kuroda completely stunk it up in the second half last year. Tanaka
    could either be a stud or a complete bust as most Japanese pitcher have been.
    I’m not sure who the hell their fourth and fifth starters are. BTW no more
    Mo and remember Robertson was replace by Soriano in 2012. The Orioles have the
    same questions about their rotation the blue jays do. Plus questions about
    their bullpen, although i really like Tommy Hunter and expect him to be an All
    Star this year (if he can slice HR rate by about half). The Red Sox, the team
    that aside from the closer(s) had tremendous luck with a bunch of guys either
    having bounce back (Napoli, Victorino) or career years (Salty [I know he is a
    Marlin now but he did have a good offensive season in ‘13 for the sox] Buchholz
    [when he was healthy], Nava). Very easily a lot of those guys can backslide or
    not pan out Bradley Jr. or Bogaerts. But let’s not over panic a setback.

    Yes facts about this team
    have changed but their situation is no grimmer than most teams in baseball.
    Show of hands, haw many people picked Cleveland to make the postseason…hmmm…
    crickets exactly. So relax and stop fretting over every little potential
    disaster.

    Suggestions for Blue Jays
    Roster in 2014

    SP’s

    Dickey

    Faberge Egg

    Buehrle

    Hutchison

    Best of this Trio
    (Stroman, McGowan, Romero)

    BP’s

    Cecil

    Delabar

    Janssen

    Jeffress

    Loup

    McGowan (if not an SP)

    Rogers

    Santos

    Buh bye crap sandwich

    (Happ, Redmond)

    Bench

    *Kratz/Thole

    *Sierra

    *Izturis

    **Gose (speed/ D)/ Dan
    Johnson (Power)

    * = Locks / ** = (Depends
    whether McGowan is and SP or not)

    Line Up

    Reyes

    Melky

    Joey

    Eddie

    Grizzly

    Fiery

    Sweet home

    Pudgy

    Gold Glove

    • RyanMueller

      Well said. I thought you were going down the negativity road at first but you presented your views very well. I don’t think the sky is falling as much as others but I do think we have a challenging season ahead, but so do the other teams. We have a solid solid batting order..if healthy. Our pitching will be up and down. Well thats enough from me. Good comment

      • Gary Gill

        Well this team is finished. We’ll be so far back by June it won’t be funny.

        • RyanMueller

          We will have to wait and see. This team may surprise you…I agree that a lot of things have to go right for us to make the playoffs but the talent but the same can be said about every other team. We looked really good on paper last year and we saw how that worked out.

      • David Stewart

        Really? I think he rambles. I could not make out what the heck he was talking about in the end. Grizzly? Faberge?

        • RyanMueller

          Haha ya he lost me there to but I understood where the rant was coming from. The whole sky is falling thing but I didn’t really get that vibe from this post.

        • Justin Jay

          Dave, can you stop being so hard on Dave? He’s a little new, but good at what he does. Give him some time and a chance will ya!

    • Lucas Silva

      Also, the Yankees infield is a mess. Teixera, Jeter, Johnson, Roberts, Nunez, Ryan. That’s ugly.

      • RyanMueller

        What you don’t think that the Yankees can sprinkle Yankee dust on Kelly Johnson and Roberts to induce a career year? Also lets not forget that they lost Granderson and replaced him with Ellsbury so there is less power there….maybe more avg.

    • Justin Jay

      They’ll compete offensively. It’s wait and see on the arms. Baltimore and NYY are no givens, but to be optimistic about this? It’s tough. You can shine up a turd, but it’s still a turd

      • Hussein Mire

        That’s where I disagree with you. Does this team have a number of questions which if they go either negatively or unanswered lead to another disappointing season? Absolutely! But guess what every team has issues. The O’s, Sox, and Yanks can all easily fall on their faces. The only one I would say is a lock to have a good season is the Rays and that is due in large part to the rotation that seemingly never gets hurt and Joe Maddon. But reading the pages of jays journal you would think that the blue jays are the 1962 Mets. They are not! They were not the 1927 Yanks last year at this time. The overly rosy pictures of last year were wrong. The overly negative groans about failures to sign middle of the rotation starters for 15 million is absurd 4/5 years is absurd. I do understand that some of the facts have changed but If I told you Hey Justin the blue jays just sign both Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana what would your reaction be? Excitement! I doubt it! If I’m going to struggle I would rather do it with our young guys rather than a bunch of mediocre talent that has next to no room for improvement.

        • Justin Jay

          The O’s have solid young arms stepping into low leverage roles. Their Top 3 arms are very solid and if Bundy and Gausman give them anything, they’re dangerous. If not, they’re dangerous. They can score with ANY team. Their pen will be interesting.

          The Red Sox have what holes? Starting pitching is probably on par or barely #2 to Tampa Bay. Their pen is phenomenal. Their offense will probably improve, even if Bradley Jr isn’t as good as Ellsbury. Bogaerts is going to replace Drew. Middlebrooks looks ready to play already. What about them looks weak?

          The Rays got the catcher they’ve been looking for, got a reliable arm to replace Rodney at closer, get their stud 2B prospect back in Hak-Ju, and have the best pitching staff in the AL. Yes… the AL. Their is depth among depth for their rotation and their pen isn’t as good, but isn’t going to be awful either. It’s their bats like usual, that will be the question mark. They have to be the favourites.

          Then there are the Yankees. They’re a wild card. Upgrade at catcher, big downgrade at 2B and Ellsbury for Granderson may be a wash… maybe. Their big 3 arms are OK, but unpredictable and their bullpen situation is also pretty dicey with the loss of Chamberlain and retirement of Rivera. They do get Teixeira back, as well as Jeter (for a little while) but they’re always tough, even in a year where they shouldn’t be a contender (like last year).

          That leaves Toronto. Still has a 2B situation. Their pitching staff is horrendous in comparison to the rest of the AL East. 60% of the rotation is a damn mystery. They may have the most underrated bullpen in the East, but they’re going to be used. Navarro is an upgrade at catcher and you can see early that he’s brought some stability there. The bats are solid, but there’s not a lot of depth for an injury and who’s platooning with Lind? Sierra right now, but how good will he be for a full season?

          Reading the pages of Jays Journal, has been a bit negative? Maybe. They’re not just writers but also passionate fans. Most of them do a good job of separating themselves from the fan aspect (we have the occasional e-mail fan blow up), but the point is, don’t buy into the crap the Blue Jays are selling. The team has holes and thinks they’re going to fill them with #4-#5-borderline bullpen/minor league players and be competitive in the 2nd most competitive division in baseball (the AL West is going to be fun to watch again this year). It’s not going to work. Even if they improve through health and some good luck, it’s not going to offset what the rest of the division has done. That’s not being pessimistic. That’s a VERY real approach to looking at this team. They did nothing, except sign Navarro, to address any of the problems that plagued them last season.

          We’ll know by the end of May where this team is at. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I’m hopeful… only because I like having guys like Bautista and EE around… and they won’t be if this team tanks again.

          • Hussein Mire

            Justin first I’m a friend not an enemy and no I’m not being some delusional fan with false hope. I believe that if The blue jays fail to make the playoffs the GM and Manager should be fired.

            Secondly, Im not upset about losing out on Garza, Jimenez, or Santana because of the following reason. They give false hope.

            Santana and Jimenez both are sketchy in terms of past performance with their lows being extremely low.

            Garza I thought would have been a better sign but he is busy getting rocked this spring.

            I am more than happy taking Drew Hutchison over any of those trio. Because even if we struggle he has room to grow and learn from. If we were to struggle with any of those pitchers on the team we would have absolutely no upside.

            you have such a positive outlook on the Red Sox staff but here are some nuggets you might want to consider before painting a rosy picture of them

            Red Sox

            Lester is a nice pitcher but he is not great. He used to be A- to A pitcher not I would rate him B/B+

            After him look at who is behind and see about potential regression.

            Lets start with the easy one Buchholz no need to explain the reasons why.

            Lackey highest stand rate of his career. Highest K rate of His career. Highest K/BB in His career. The lowest BB rate of his career. The Lowest BABIP in his career. Lowest xFIP of his career.

            Moving on Felix Doubrant

            Pretty much the same pitcher in almost every major category except HR rate by nearly half. He did this while his xFIP and FB% went up (only slightly)

            Next Jake Peavy

            Jake Peavy went from a guy who could ground balls in San Diego. 4 of 6 seasons in which he pitched at least 150 inning he had a GB rate of 40%. Last three seasons for Peavy GB rate (2011- 38.5%, 2012-36.5%, 2013-32.7%!!!). Only last year did his HR rate cross 10.0%

            Next

            Chris Capuano a soft tossing lefty with no AL experience. Let alone AL east experience, this can only end well (sarcasm).

            Position players

            Outfield (Victorino, Bradley Jr, Nava, Gomes, potential Sizemore/Brentz) v (Cabrera, Rasmus, Bautista, Sierra, potentially Gose unlikely Pillar)

            Infield (Napoli, Pedroia, Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Carp, Pierzynski, Ross, and either Herrera or Holt) v (Encarnacion, Goins, Reyes, Lawrie, Izturis, Navarro, Kratz/Thole maybe Dan Johnson but unlikely)

            Finally prospects.

            Short of the special ones it’s really silly to expect great contribution right away. As we are seeing with Stroman, even talented prospects can struggle.

            There is really no big talent discrepancy between these two teams.

          • Justin Jay

            I don’t see you an enemy. I see your point and I like the stats you have pointed out. Just don’t use them and think that they can’t be reproduced. I am high on the Red Sox because I live in the area and know a lot about their team despite not being a fan. Pawtucket is right up the road for me.

            I’m glad you mentioned Sizemore because I essentially wrote him off. He has been pretty good this spring and impressed the team. He can also play CF, adding more depth in the event Bradley Jr fails.

            As far as the arms go, the Red Sox did the damage that they did minus Buchholz for most of the year. I understand why one would think Buchholz would struggle, but at the same time, he’s got things figured out pitching wise (as does Lackey if he stays in shape). Crazy as this sounds (and trust me, I’ve witnessed it personally), his conditioning sucks. He eats like crap. The Red Sox have been wanting him to put on weight for years and then he did, but he never trained properly and during the season he breaks down. That’s really only part of the reason why. There are a couple of things in his delivery too, but the biggest part is they’ve asked him to be, umm… lazy, I guess… over the years, and it has hurt him.

            There are just so many young arms that have been slowly developed for Boston, unlike Toronto. Hutch, Stroman, and Drabek were rushed. You could debate whether Nolin was rushed (I vote no. It was just one start). Point is, the Red Sox are notoriously slow at bringing up prospects. Owens, Webster and De La Rosa are definitely ready and Ranaudo and Barnes are on the verge. If Peavy goes down (he will), they have guys that will step in. There are high expectations out of Doubront this year.

            Talent discrepancy offensively with Toronto vs Boston is that there shouldn’t be one. Toronto’s lineup looks better. Yet, there is. Boston was better at scoring runs last season. They’re an excellent situational team and Toronto did most of their damage with nobody on base. Toronto needs to do more than just hit HRs or K. That’s why they brought in Seitzer. Boston struck out a ton last season too, but when they had runners on base, they worked the count into their favour and made the most of their opportunities. You can’t say that about Toronto. If anything, Toronto may find they have an advantage in the field this year.

            I get what you’re saying, I really do. You can cite all the different types of WAR. You can tell me how Fangraphs projects players to do whatever. The fact is Boston is proven. World Series proven and they did nothing this offseason to show they’re taking any steps backwards. Baltimore initially looked like it might, but made a few solid, mostly under-the-radar moves to improve their team. New York is New York and I hate that saying, but they’re going to win more than lose. And Tampa Bay is another playoff proven team that addressed their team specific weaknesses in an economically efficient manner, because that’s what Friedman does. What did Toronto do? Cite injuries, set limits, and like you said.. gave false hope… but they did that last season and it spewed over to this season.

            Buck Martinez is telling everybody who will listen this spring that the Blue Jays played only 22 games with it’s 2013 Opening Day starting lineup… Yep! And it was a disaster! Not to say it will happen again like that because I believe the Jays have been humbled from that experience. But still, the results were not good.

          • Hussein Mire

            I don’t know whether I’m lying to myself or being overly hopeful but this is something I would like to see from the Blue Jays this season if they are going to be successful. First get at least 140 games from Reyes, Lawrie, Encarnacion, Bautista, Lind, Cabrera, Rasmus. If the Blue Jays are able to do that, than you can pretty much expect the Blue Jays Offense to be better. Second from our rotation the assets they need to provide is more innings. I will gladly take 1000 innings pitched even if the collective production is some in the middleish (20-14). I really like our bullpen assuming there are no residual effects (this scares me) from last year I think they can be very good to great. They have a bunch of guys that can come out and throw gas and strike people. This is key because if I learned anything from watching Cleveland last year (I live in Columbus, Oh) is that most of their success was based on good offense and pretty good pen. I mean they had just 6 more quality starts than a terrible bluejays rotation 6!!!!!!!!! The two clubs finished 27 and 28th respectively yet collective team ERA was 15th for the tribe v Jays 25th (sigh). Now this is not the best recipe for success but I have to be honest this will have to be the blue jays model for winning this year. Otherwise, I agree with you they will be toast.

          • Justin Jay

            I would like to see 140 from that group as well, but that’s a HUGE improvement. Given that the injuries were a bit freakish, it might be do-able. I’d be happy with 2/3 the season.
            I think rotation success needs to be viewed in terms of Quality Starts. I think a realistically, asking the top 3 to give ~23 starts out of the 32 they’re scheduled to make during the season would be good enough with this offense, but who knows. Odds are, based of the team’s injury woes to SPs, that number won’t be reached by ANY of them and maybe 2 at the most.
            Like I said, this isn’t being pessimistic. It’s just based off of what we’ve seen so far from last season and in ST right now. The difference between the Tribe success vs the Blue Jays is they produced timely hitting and their staff got hot at the right time. They even did it without the starting services of Justin Masterson. If the Jays buy into Seitzer’s plan of working counts, using the whole field, not being as predictable at the plate, the offense will score more runs than usual. If they don’t, they’ll still score runs, but in bunches against teams that aren’t good enough to stop them. They were 74-88 last season and they were in bad shape most of the year. A LOT of those games were lost to leaving too many ROB and RISP, even in April and May when the pitching sucked. So we’ll see. Better pitching, more efficient hitting. I haven’t seen either in Spring Training.

          • Hussein Mire

            I know what you mean about the offense this spring. Currently Dallas Keuchel is shutting them out. With our rotation I want to see hopefully a thousand innings by 8 different SPs with a collective ERA 4.25 or less I would take that. It’s not setting a high standard but I have really high hopes for the pen

  • Hussein Mire

    And Yes Alex should be fired if Blue Jays don’t make win the AL East this Year

  • Michie

    First time writer … compelled to chime in. Respectively, It is not nonsense to criticize AA and even this article to an extent. Stewart suggests that the pitchers on the market were over-priced?! By who’s standard? They seemed to all get paid … ‘other teams’ were willing to pay them .. and they were all paid in the approximate same sphere. That typically means that the market is dictated by demand and willingness to pay what is required to meet said demand. Hence, the free agent pitchers were not over-priced at all; It would seem they were priced accordingly but AA and the Jays simply tried to convince us that they were all over-priced to justify the lack of expenditure. The fact is the Jays are looking for value and operating within a self-imposed restrictive system (not willing to offer a 4th year based on their own principle). There is no excuse that has to be made. They have a choice to spend the money .. right or wrong .. they choose not to. I can live with their choice – although don’t expect me to drive to Toronto the 15 to 20 times I usually do this year to shell out money for tickets and beer to watch this team. It was not the free agent market and it is certainly not the 2013 squad that had a poor year they kept free agents away (they were favoured to win the WS for goodness sake … players and agents know there is a ton of talent here .. thank you Mr. Boras for correctly pointing it our). It is conscious business decision made by the Jays and the only thing fans should ask in turn (of the Jays and the sport writers) is to first, stop justifying it as anything other than a business choice and second, don’t expect us to show up in volume to the games until you put the product on the field .. not the other way around. That is the fans choice!

  • Erik Trenouth

    Most of the players on the team don’t need to have a career year in order to compete. A career year by everyone on the team would make them a 120 win team (impossible, since Buehrle, Reyes, Bautista, Lind, Melky, Izturis, Happ, Dickey and Romero will never best their previous best seasons).

    But, just for fun, let’s take a look at what a year of career bests for everyone would mean (career year wouldn’t necessarily mean topping all of these numbers, OPS should be improved and counting stats at least close). I left runs and rbi out, because with an offense like this, some numbers would be over 150.

    Reyes – .340/.385/.500 with 20 hr and 79 sb 143 wRC+
    Melky – .347/.391/.517 with 19 hr and 21 sb 151 wRC+
    Bautista – .303/.448/.618 with 55 hr and 10 sb. 182 wRC+
    Edwin – .281/.384/.557 with 43 hr and 14 sb. 152 wRC+
    Lind – .306/.371/.563 with 36 hr and 3 sb. 141 wRC+
    Lawrie – .293/.373/.580 with 12 hr and 14 sb. 130 wRC+ (this one is messed up due to short seasons for him)
    Rasmus – .277/.362/.502 with 24 hr and 13 sb. 131 wRC+
    Navarro – .300/.365/.492 with 14 hr and 6 sb. 137 wRC+
    Izturis – .301/.360/.435 with 9 hr and 18 sb. 110 wRC+

    Pitching

    Dickey – 2.73 ERA, 233.2 innings, 4.26 K/BB, 72 ERA-
    Buehrle – 3.12 ERA, 245.1 innings, 3.73 K/BB, 73 ERA-
    Morrow – 2.96 ERA, 179.1 innings, 2.94 K/BB, 71 ERA-
    Romero – 2.92 ERA, 225 innings, 2.23 K/BB, 70 ERA-
    Happ – 2.93 ERA, 166 innings, 2.57 K/BB, 69 ERA-

    • Erik Trenouth

      Realistically, if the entire team plays to their 3 year average, they will compete.