Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos answered questions today on a one hour long live chat session with Sun writer Bob Elliot. Here’s the scoop:
Questions are from various users, answers directly from AA. Key points if you don’t have 15 mins.
- Not shopping for a DH/1B
- Backup catcher situation will sort itself out during spring training: Thole/Blanco.
- Bautista is “ready to go” – will be in 1st ST game.
- Not involved in finding a replacement for Alan Ashby – FAN 590 radio broadcasts.
- #10 overall pick in 2013 draft.
- Oliver’s wife/kids said he could play for Toronto in 2013.
- Janssen is the closer as of now.
- 5-man rotation isn’t set yet – as in #’s 1-5.
- Sean Nolin is in a good position to be a call up for the rotation if someone goes down.
- Macier Izturis is the starting second baseman as of now – but spring training will decide Izturis/Bonafacio.
- Ownership will provide the club what they need if they are contending.
- Toronto’s reputation for attracting star players is improving.
- Don’t expect grass at the Rogers Centre for 5 years (crap!)
- Sergio Santos is 100% and will be going full out at the start of spring training.
- Marcus Stroman will be stretched out as a starter for Dunedin this year.
- Not looking for any more relief pitchers, but like anything the door isn’t closed.
How have season ticket sales been?
AA: Sales have been outstanding. I didn’t live in the city in the early 90′s but the feedback we’ve gotten from our sales staff is that they haven’t seen anything like this in years.
What are your thoughts on the Upton deal that just went down between Atlanta and Arizona?
AA: Just found out about it on my way to doing this chat. Haven’t had much time to digest it. As a baseball fan always exciting to see big trades happen. Should be a really interesting 2013 with so many teams positioned to be contenders.
Still shopping for a DH or 1B by any chance?
AA: Not really. We’re still open minded about bringing in someone on a minor league deal.
Thole: Why was he sent down to Buffalo ? I thought he was there to catch R.A. Dickey?
AA: No decisions have been made on our backup catcher position yet. Both Josh Thole (from the Mets in the Dickey deal) and Henry Blanco will be competing in spring training. Blanco is on a non guaranteed deal meaning he can be released while Thole has options remaining. Having both provides us with great depth and allows us to evaluate them in spring training. They both have experience catching RA Dickey.
How is Bautista doing? is he ready to go?
AA: If you asked him he would tell you that he’s ready to go. He’s hitting in the cages daily and we expect him to be ready for the first game of the spring.
How close are you (and the organization) to choosing Alan Ashby’s replacement?
AA: I’m not involved in the hiring process for broadcasters. I can say that Alan was great to be around and will be a huge loss for our listeners.
What about the farm system? A lot of pieces were moved, so how long will it take to restock the shelves to the level of 2012?
AA: We still feel we have a lot of great prospects in the minor leagues. Guys like Gose, Aaron Sanchez, Sean Nolin, Roberto Osuna, A.J. Jimenez, Marcus Stroman, D.J. Davis, etc. We’ll be able to add what we hope is another impact piece with the #10 overall pick in the draft this year.
How did you finally convince Oliver to come back?
AA: Didn’t need to convince him. Darren always maintained that it was going to be up to his wife and children. Even when I flew out to have dinner with him and his wife he looked at me and said “you don’t need to convince me, she’s (pointing at his wife) the one you need to convince”. We’re thrilled to have him back.
Alex, is the club projecting Santos or Janssen as the closer this season?
AA: Janssen is the closer as of now. Sergio needs to get healthy and then perform the way he has in the past. We’re confident he can do that but Casey did such a wonderful job as the closer last year that there’s no reason to make any changes at this time.
Where does Morrow fit in to the rotation this year? Has it been decided yet?
AA: It hasn’t been decided yet. Brandon was on his way to the all-star game before he suffered his oblique injury. We’re not really concerned with the order. If all 5 guys get 30 starts or more each and pitch to their abilities we should have a strong rotation.
If the Jays need to tap into the minor league pitching depth this season, who do you see as the first players to get called up?
AA: We have a bunch of players we signed as minor league free agents that will be on the short list of callups. As for young starting pitching prospects I would say Sean Nolin really has put himself in a great position. He will be on an innings limit and will start in New Hampshire but it would not surprise me to see him be ready for the major leagues this year.
Who do you have starting second base?
AA: Right now Maicer Izturis is the front runner but he won’t be handed the job. He’ll be competing with Emilio Bonifacio in spring training.
If the Jays are in the thick of the AL East race, are you in a position to take on salary in a trade if it’s the “David Cone” type of deal that puts the team over the top?
AA: Hopefully we’re in that position to have that discussion. I would anticipate that if we’re contending then ownership will provide us with the resources that we need.
Did you feel any pressure to put a competitive team on the field now that your tenure has grown? Or have you been working towards this team since you got the job?
AA: We’ve been working towards this since I got the job. I think it was always discussed that we would eventually grow the payroll and use prospects to add to the major league team. We clearly spent a lot of money in the amateur market the past 3 years and if ownership hadn’t authorized that type of budget we’d never have the players to make the deals with the Marlins and the Mets.
If somehow everything broke right and Towers came to you saying we can work something out for Justin Upton, would you have been interested or has the budget already been stretched far enough to not pile more into it just to create a logjam in the OF?
AA: I can’t talk directly about players on other teams but what I can say is that sometimes players list Toronto on their no trade clauses which then makes it more difficult to acquire them in trade.
Do you think Toronto still has a reputation as being a market that has a hard time attracting free agents? How does that affect your job?
AA: I think it’s certainly changing. In the World Series years Toronto never had any issues attracting free agents. WInning solves a lot of those issues.
Did the previous Aroldis Chapman situation influence you deciding to spend money on the likes of Melky Cabrera, Dickey?
AA: It had no impact on signing Melky but it absolutely had a major impact on signing Hechavarria.
Will the Rogers Centre ever see a grass field for baseball and if so when can we expect to see it? It would be great for the players and it looks better for TV.
AA: It’s been discussed quite a bit recently. I’m not sure anything has been decided. Paul Beeston has said he doesn’t see it happening for the next 5 years and he’s the boss so I’d take that to the bank.
With the three big trades with Houston, Miami and New York, you have traded A LOT of prospects, does that weigh on you at all?
AA: No, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. It’s always easy to part with your prospects. Every organization gets attached to them. Ultimately people don’t give away quality major league players for free so as long as you’re happy with what you’re getting back, you don’t look back.
People over look DeMarlo Hale because of the big trades the Jays made.How big of an impct do yo think he will have with the players?
AA: I think DeMarlo will be outstanding. He was Gibby’s first choice as bench coach. Knowledge of the game and ability to connect with players is as good as it gets.
How is Sergio Santos rehab going? Is he 100% healthy?
AA: Feels great. should be full go when camp opens.
Do you (i.e. yourself, scouting department, front office) use any “wins above replacement” style metrics in your analysis? Or is it more a function of looking at specific stats that you like and and weighing those more than other ones that are less important?
AA: We pretty much use everything. Joe Sheehan and Jay Sartori in our office lead our statistical work. They come up with tons of great stuff that leads to some healthy debates.
Any word on how Marcus Stroman may be used? Might the org. give him a try as a starting pitcher?
AA: We’re going to stretch him out as a starter in Dunedin this year to get his innings up and also to see how he does. He always can be moved back to the bullpen later but that’s the plan going into the season.
Just wondering if you are currently looking for another reliever?
AA: We’re not currently looking for a reliever but we won’t close any doors either.