12:40 AM Eastern
I just finished filing all the tape from the annual event back to the radio station, and I’m exhausted from a busy day that began with a sick child, moved along to a root canal and finished up down at the Dome, so forgive me for not going into great depth here.
The things that stood out for me at the Blue Jays’ yearly get-together with season ticket holders were that the fans seemed to love Alex Anthopoulos, his plan and his enthusiasm, but not as much as they love Cito Gaston; Cito really wants Carlos Delgado to be his DH/first baseman next year; and the Blue Jays will play small ball in 2010, because they couldn’t in 2008.
Hitting-and-running, bunting and stealing bases were among the “crazy things” that Gaston suggested his club was going to have to do in the coming season in order to score runs, though a few sentences later the skipper mentioned that the team could have as many as seven 25-homer guys in the line-up, meaning Hill, Lind, Wells, Snider, Bautista, Encarnacion and Overbay. Please note that only one of those seven has ever hit 25 homers in a season more than once, and three of them have never done it at all. In fact, here are the home run totals for each of those hitters in the SECOND-best homer seasons of their careers: Hill – 17, Lind – 11, Snider – 2, Bautista – 15, Encarnacion – 16, Overbay – 19. Wells, of course, has topped the 25 mark three times.
There was nothing really new to come out of the event, except that Anthopoulos mentioned that he’d talked to Johnny Damon’s agent a couple of days ago, but that was mainly to see if he was desperate for a job with the calendar working against him. Damon wants a lot of money, though not as much as he did a month ago, and he wants to play for a winning team. I don’t think there’s much of a chance at all that he’s coming to Toronto. My fear is that if he does, he takes Travis Snider’s job, since Cito loves the idea of having Jose Bautista as his everyday right fielder.
Anthopoulos talked about his tireless pursuit of a young shortstop. Such an acquisition is at the top of his list, and he’s gone so far as to beg other GMs to take six, even eight of his players in exchange for the right one, but he hasn’t been able to get anyone to bite yet. He also mentioned that even in a down year, the Blue Jays still sell more than twice as many tickets as the Leafs or Raptors do. I have made that point several times, and I know the ticket prices for baseball are much lower, but that still makes me happy.
Paul Beeston acknowledged that 2010 could be a tough one at the turnstiles, but said that he’s confident the fans will come back once the team starts winning, and all believed whole-heartedly that the way to win long-term is to build from within and then sprinkle in the odd free agent when the time is right – just like the Jays did in The Glory Days.
The Fieldturf at the ballpark was in the process of being torn up, and there was a tarp covering what used to be the Hard Rock Cafe. It’ll be a shame to see that one go, I can still see Fred McGriff hitting a home run off of it during the Jays’ first-ever homestand at what was then called SkyDome.
There were a couple of missteps by Cito (not knowing the Jays have committed to using Brandon Morrow as a starter, confusing Jeremy Accardo with Casey Janssen, campaigning for Carlos Delgado when the G.M. has already said there’s no interest), but he was basking in the love of the season-ticket holders, and one assumes he’ll be clear on such things when the bell rings in less than a month.
Shaun Marcum is healthy and there are no restrictions on him, Dustin McGowan will throw off a mound for the first time later today (that being Friday) and Jesse Litsch will do the same on Wednesday.
Astonishingly, for the second year in a row, there were no complaints about the food, the concession prices, or the temperature of the water in the washrooms. There were, however, complaints of a disconnect between the fans and the team – people don’t feel as close to the club as they once did, it’s not as out there in the community. Beeston said that there’s a new marketing plan in place and that the Jays have to be more pro-active in that respect, and I think he’s right. Heck, I’d bring back the cross-country caravan if it were up to me.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!