During tonight’s game against the Angels, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos joined Buck and Pat in the booth for the entire fifth inning to discuss a variety of Jays matters going forward. There were a lot of nuggets that were worth listening to including Dustin McGowan, Yu Darvish, free agency, future payroll, second base, and New Hampshire’s starting rotation pitching for the Jays next year.
In case you missed the telecast or were at the game, here’s a complete rundown of everything Anthopoulos touched on, to get you through until tomorrow.
His thoughts on this year overall:
“I feel like there’s been a lot that’s gone on. The turnover on the roster has been incredible, and I’m not necessarily pointing to it good or bad, but if you look at what we started the season with and what we have today, there’ve been a lot of changes. And I feel better with respect to the core of this team, the players, the age, the athleticism, again we’re not where we want to be or need to be with the wins and losses, but I certainly feel better with what we have to work with going into the offseason.”
“I certainly do [feel that we’re on the right path]. The question always comes ‘when will you win’, ‘when will it all come together’, and I don’t know if anyone is good enough to put a timeline on dealing with human beings, but the one thing we just try to look at is that this is more of a compass-based thing, it’s direction, you try not to make it overly complicated, you just try to continue to add talent, at some point it will come together and the wins will show up, we have a lot of areas we can improve, and just continue to try to add the talent. I’m not sure we’re smart enough to try to know which year everyone is going to click.”
“We could point to every one of those starters and you could say, two years, three years, one year, there’s a lot of ability there, and you wouldn’t be surprised for any one of the guys behind Romero to have big seasons and to do well. That’s part of having a young team and having young players, but there’s no question that’s been one of the weaker parts of our team, and that’s part of trying to develop young starters. We want to improve it if we can, but at the same time we need some internal improvement, too.”
“Talking about Alvarez, I know John’s talked a lot about his poise, his demeanor. He’s 21 years old and he’s not afraid. We talk a lot about young kids coming up to the AL east – you guys have been to Boston or New York enough times – for the fans that haven’t sat in those stands, I hate watching games in those stands because it can get loud and I can see someone get rattled, but he’s laid back. The biggest thing is that he’s a strike thrower, and in this division with those teams and those lineups, he’ll get ground balls. The slider is continuing to improve, and he’s someone that we have a very high ceiling for.”
“When you look at McGowan, it’s funny I saw Vernon Wells in the tunnel a day ago and he asked me about him and he said ‘how does he look’ to what remembers and I said you know what, it’s almost exactly the same. The velocity might be a little lower, but the movement is there, the changeup is outstanding, the slider is outstanding. You remember that this was one of the most promising young arms in the game and he continues to show it to you. The biggest thing will be health, but if he can come back it’ll be a huge piece for us.”
“It’s a great question to ask. I don’t normally talk about players, free agents, things like that, but when the elephant is in the room, it’s pretty obvious. I’m not going to try to skate around it. Everyone knows that I went to Japan to see him; I get to see all the free agents here too. Very talented guy, I think that goes without saying. But I was telling someone from the media that there are a lot of free agents that we all like but you like them at a certain price, and I think that goes for a lot of players. But if we can add an impact starter, that’s a front of the rotation-type guy, and that’s someone we deem is that, we’ll certainly look to do it, and if it’s someone that isn’t, we’ll probably try to go internal if we think it’s a back end-type guy.”
“I think it’s a priority, there’s no doubt about it. I just think this is such a different offseason for us, last year there were just so many unknowns. We had a wonderful year relative to where we came from the year prior, 85 wins, we finished 8-2, a lot of great stories, but there were contractual statuses. Jose Bautista could be a free agent, young starters, Buck’s a free agent, Gregg’s a free agent, Down’s a free agent. Right now, we want to try to move forward, the closer’s going to be something we’re going to need to address, we’re tied with Anaheim in terms of blown saves in the American League, from their standpoint they’re still in contention for a playoff spot but we’re not, and you could certainly point to that. That’s an area we could definitely mprove and that we need to improve. “
“It’s going to be interesting. We’re reviewing our team and we’ve been reviewing free agents this last week or so with a lot of our scouts and staff. Travis Snider will be a factor, certainly Eric Thames has done a nice job for us for the bulk of the year now, Adam Loewen’s someone we want to see a little bit more. We’re going to have some competition, but that being said, I don’t know what the offseason is going to bring. If we find that there’s an upgrade, trade or free agency, we’ll explore that as well but I don’t think that it’s high on the priority list though.”
“Kelly’s a free agent and we have a decision to make one way or another, and he has a decision to make as well. We haven’t had him that long, he started out well, hit a bit of slump, the last few games here he’s starting to hit the ball well, drawing a walk, defensively he’s made some nice plays for us, and we’re seeing that he can run a little bit as well. But it’s not a deep class of free agents ; that’s one area that we’ve looked at that isn’t very deep at all. We have to continue to explore it and Kelly will certainly be in that mix.”
“When I was an AGM here we had very strict amounts of dollars that we could spend; that was the number and we had to work around it. Paul Beeston does things a different way that I’ve ever seen it done before (laughs). He really believes in tying in the sales staff with the baseball staff, and we do it collectively and we move this thing together. I say there’s no number, and there really isn’t; it’s more than I present. Paul always tells me ‘make your case’. So there’s no ‘make your case’ at $60 million, $80 million, $100 million, $120 million; it’s ‘what do I believe will result in the product and wins’, and he’ll be able to decide what that will generate overall. There’s no one that we shy away from, whether it’s trades or free agency, and say ‘we can’t. It’s more like ‘if we do, what are the results or what does it do to the team’.”
“Really to take that a step further, because I know that’s asked about a lot, my first offseason as a GM – Paul challenges me in a good way and he wants me to be open-minded about anyone, and it was clear what direction we were going to go – he asked me ‘do you want Bay, do you want Lackey’ and those are guys that got significant dollars, but if I had said you know what Paul, we should go after those guys’ I was going to be given the green light, but I just didn’t feel that it was the right time to go ahead and do it. He’s always for doing that, but it needs to make sense.”
When is the time to sign a free agent or two?
“I’m a big believer in a free agent being a final piece. From a free agency standpoint, I think if you start to take the route of trying to build a team or a core through free agency, I don’t know that it works. And it’s not because I’ve been around that long, but I try to study some of the other GMs that have done a great job, whether it’s been Pat Gillick here — I don’t remember the Jays signing major free agents other than when they were already winning or they were a competitive team; they would get them as a final piece. You look at even when Pat went to Philadelphia, it was the same thing, he was adding the Raul Ibanez and the Placido Polancos but he shad his core in place. Even if you want to take the Rangers as an example, they got to the World Series; they finally went out and got a big free agent in Adrian Beltre, but prior to that it was shorter-term deals, so it has to be a case-by-case thing. And there’s rare free agents that are young and have a chance to be impact players for a long time; most times you’re getting them for a shorter time.”
Draft picks & who had good years this year?
“The player development staff and the scouting staff, the work that they’ve done, it’s really incredible. You know John Farrell, myself, and Paul Beeston, we get a lot of the accolades and the praise, but we don’t work with those kids day in and day out, and I’m not the one going to scout them. Whether it’s Doug Davis, Charlie Wilson, Andrew Tinnish, these guys have been incredible.”
“The scouts from other teams come to us and tell us that the prospects we have in the minor leagues are as good as they’re going to find in the game, and a big part of that is that Rogers and Paul have given us the funding to go out and spend in the draft. We’ve had a boat load of draft picks, we’ve been aggressive in Latin America, and it’s all starting to bear fruit, and that’s because the scouting staff is doing a great job.”
“We have a lot of internal debate, but if I was to try to touch on each team very fast, obviously Brett Lawrie in Las Vegas had a great year, New Hampshire was loaded with Travis d’Arnaud, Anthony Gose, Adeiny Hechavarria when he was there for the bulk of the time. Some of the young starters, we have four starters in New Hampshire that we think will all be here at some point next season and that they have very high ceilings. We just have so much depth right now at premium positions – and I mean shortstop, catcher, center field – things that I realized my first year as a GM when I was trying to trade for center field depth, how hard it was and how no one wanted to give it up or trade shortstops. We have a tremendous amount of depth, they’re not all going to pan out and some will be used in trades, but we’re in a very good place in terms of our depth.”
Nestor Molina and Drew Hutchison pitching for the Jays next year?
“Absolutely. I don’t know that they’ll break with the club, but I saw them both during the year and I saw them in the Florida State League and I was blown away with how well they pitched.”