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!

59 Responses to “State of The French Fries”
  1. 1.

    The whole “Cito not knowing who Accardo is” was pretty embarrassing. No wonder Accardo feels slighted getting into Major League games.. Cito doesn’t even know who he is!

    MW: Yes, it was.

    - Renegade
  2. 2.

    In regards to the attendance, lets face it Mike, if the Leafs could fit more than 20,000 into the ACC, they surely would with no problem at all, so for them to make it seem like the Jays are right with them in popularity is just ludicris. But in regards to your writing about Cito: this guy just seems like he has no frickin clue whats going on. No wonder the team had issues with him. How can he be so far disconnected from the happenings of the off season. He’s gonna screw up Sniders season for sure. Playing Bautista everyday instead of Snider is a huge mistake. They gotta let this guy develop. Oh man what a year this is going to be. I’ll be glad when the “Gerry” Cito Gaston hits the bricks at the end of the year. Thanks for the update!

    MW: The Jays aren’t right with them for popularity, there can never be any question about that. But do you think the Leafs could fill a 50,000 seat stadium? I doubt it. And I don’t understand your final-sentence insult of Cito.

    - Dave
  3. 3.


    didn’t know Hard Rock was shutting down. What are the future plans for both Hard Rock and Windows Restaurant?

    MW: I heard they were going to take them out and put in more seats, but I don’t know if that’s true.

    - Anthony
  4. 4.

    I guess there is no interest in Orlando Hudson —- and moving Mr. Hill to ss. That would be too big a change, I guess.

    It would be nice to have Carlos as DH. Have him finish his career where he started. It would seem he would be a sure-fire Hall of Famer — a number 2 to go along with Mr. Alomar.

    MW: Nope, no interest in that. If Delgado goes into the Hall of Fame, it’ll be as a Blue Jays regardless of whether he comes back.

    - Gary Reid
  5. 5.

    I was done at the event last night too.

    It was like Gaston had not been thinking or talking baseball for weeks. He had no ideas what the GM had committed to Morrow, thought Casey Jannsen saved 30 plus ball games a couple of years ago (it was Accardo) and he wanted Delgado as DH. The latter blows me away, did Cito not read or hear anything about what happened recently re Carlos?

    Don’t we want a manager and GM who talk and are on the same page? Don’t we want a manager that lives and breathes baseball and his team?

    Lastly on the event last night, I was surprised so few good baseball questions were asked. How about, if McGowan is out of options what are your plans for him if he is not ready at the end of spring training? How about where are you with upgrading the corner infield positions? How about who is going to be in the outfield 2 to 3 years from now?

    Geeze. Last night was a bit of a downer for a hard core ball fan.

    MW: Two to three years from now Wells, Snider and someone else (Marisnick?) will be in the outfield. I agree with you that Cito’s performance was pretty brutal for someone who has been following the team all winter, but a lot of the people there haven’t been. Remember the question about the return for the Halladay trade? The fan asking said he had heard the names of the players who came back, but nothing else.

    - Tony B
  6. 6.


    I couldn’t agree 100% more, the caravan used to be the highlight of my winter. I went to the caravan when it came to St.Catharines for 10 straight years and it was a thrill to meet all the players that were on the caravan, but the biggest thrill was meeting Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth, they alternated as emcees every other year, even Buck Martinez and Murray Eldon would host it from time to time. Aside from my birthday in January, that was a big day for me. If the Blue Jays brought it back I would definitely attend it again.

    Nice of you to throw the Springsteen reference in the blog. By the way, what sports will you cover at the Olympics? I assume Howard Berger will cover men’s hockey. If you’re stationed in Whistler you will be at the ski events? Take care, have fun out there.

    Peter, St.Catharines.

    - Peter
  7. 7.

    I respect your opinion on Overbay but why doesn’t anybody want our 7 million dollar platoon 1st baseman.

    MW: It’s not that no one wants him (Arizona did), it’s that everyone thinks they can get him for nothing, and they can’t.

    - Domenick
  8. 8.

    Overbay won’t hit 25 homers.

    Hmmm.. Cito’s large presence as manager seems to serve as a symbol of the Glory Days; it’s safe to say that those days will probably never return, and so he is sort of an active “nostalgia” figure – not necessarily a good thing… but then AA’s “plan” has to be put in the context of a team with a farm system apparently severely challenged for future major league position players… meaning it may be quite a while before this team can claw it’s way back to respectability.

    The question is: after 8 years of J.P.’s melodic voice belting out “Promises, Promises”, how many casual fans or “new” fans are going to be sufficiently interested in yet another re-building “plan”?

    MW: Overbay might – it’s a contract year.

    - Ken
  9. 9.

    Hi Mike,

    I’m interested in your throw away comment about the Fieldturf being torn up. Are the Jays getting a new playing surface this year? I know it won’t be grass but will it lok better than that terrible quilt we’ve had for a few seasons?

    MW: I sure hope so.

    - scott
  10. 10.

    Hello Mike,

    You mentioned that the Fieldturf was in the process of being tore up. Are the Jays replacing it with something similar to what they have in Tampa or Minnesota? I’ve always thought the Fieldturf in the Rogers Centre looked really cheap and poorly put together(seam lines,etc). I’m aware you may not be able to answer this question but I thought I’d ask. Also, I was wondering if you could post an update regarding how McGowan made out with his mound session? Thanks as always Mike.


    MW: You and the guy above you are on the same wavelength. As for McGowan, he threw with no reported problems.

    - Tommy
  11. 11.

    It worries me that Cito is going to have such a big hand in what the team does this year. There are times when I fully believe and understand why the players revolted against him last year. It sounds like it is going to be a tough year – they might have to plan 2 reunion weekends next year.

    - Scott
  12. 12.

    just pondering here for a moment as i read the newsical tidbits here of the blue jays state of the union address from yesterday.
    to be truthful, i typically prefer to be in the moment for the most part & try not to forecast or project as it will usually, i find just create unneeded stress on my being & doesn’t typically accomplish an awful lot.
    but i have one for you here just for the fun of it since this is what fans like to do it seems.
    this talk by a.a. & cito of the possibilities of damon & delgado intrgues me a bit i must say.
    now both are likely unprobable developments for this team going forward some or most would surmise.
    but let’s just say that the organization finds it within themselves to splurge on these 2 individuals. and let’s be honest there’s certainly a need for your man johnny d. in lf & at lead off right now for this team. we know this much.
    and if it’s possible to relocate lyle o. & get an asset of some kind in return or just deem it addition by subtraction, then we would also have a place to hang delgado’s hat too it seems. (with young wallace waiting closely in the wings no doubt)
    and both are perhaps looking like they’re losing the game of baseball’s musical chairs right now as spring training soons willbe thrust upon us. (now most likely not but the music has definitely started)
    so……let’s say we have johnny d. at the top of the order & carlos somewhere in the middle and they & the team are fortunate enough to have healthy campaigns.
    where would you then approximate the over/under total in the win column for this team?
    and of course the state & health of the pitching staff this upcoming yr. would be as, if not more important than the former, so let’s give them a realtively clean bill of health too (just for the fun of it)
    cause’ i’m thinking michael the no. just might be 80 something for sure….yes? no? lower? or dare it be higher my friend?

    MW: I actually think the Jays could very well be a .500 team even without adding Damon and Delgado.

    - darrell bishop
  13. 13.

    Were there any indications of what the new turf would look like?

    MW: Nope. Actually, I’m not sure if what was down there was the new stuff or the old stuff, but it was in long, straight lines across the floor, as opposed to those boxes that it had been in before. Now, it could have just been a bunch of boxes lined up side by side, or it could have been the new stuff.

    - Flaming Moe
  14. 14.

    Nightly gate revenue, Mike. I would doubt the Jays are even close to the Leafs but I’d love to know the numbers…

    MW: Me, too. Average ticket price X attendance X dates gets you close, but won’t really tell the story.

    - George
  15. 15.

    Not meaning to bring up a hatefest on Cito but why are we keeping him around knowing he’ll be done at the end of this season? Not to mention the miscues you’ve mentioned….I’d rather have anybody else in here trying to make a huge difference with the same fire Anthopolous has.

    MW: Cito has enough capital in this city that he gets to leave (this time) on his own terms. It’s too bad, really, misguided loyalty generally never helps.

    - Randy
  16. 16.

    Hey Mike. I’m going to be working as a screener for the olympics in downtown Vancouver. Any chance you will be in the area?

    MW: Nope. I’m gonna be on the mountain.

    - Matt in BC
  17. 17.

    Hello Mike,
    Was there any talk of Randy Ruiz last night? I know he is not a prospect due to his age but they should at least give him a long look. Do you think he is in the team’s short term plans?

    MW: There was no talk at all about Ruiz. I think he deserves the chance to fail, which he’s never done as a Blue Jay, but I really don’t think he’ll get it.

    - Rory
  18. 18.

    Hmm…that makes me think.
    Maybe Cito confused Kevin Millar with someone else when he was the regular clean up hitter in the second half.

    Seriously, Cito had his day but this is getting ridiculous. The sad part is that most of the fanbase doesn’t have a clue, and still think he is a great manager.

    - Alan
  19. 19.

    Hey Mike,

    Why don’t they turn the Windows restaurant and Hard Rock cafe into a shrine or memorial for the Jays “Level of Exellence”? It could be simular to the Hockey HOF were it would be a fun interactive place for the younger generation of Jays fans to learn about the history of the team. In my opinion a big part of what’s missing with this franchise is the lack of respect and honour to the players/managers/head office personel that achieved success in the past.

    Their should be a statue of Roberto Alomar out front of the Rogers Centre from when he had both his hands raised after hitting “the home run” off Dennis Eckersley in the ’92 ALDS.

    MW: I think they’d rather put in more seats.

    - Go Gruber
  20. 20.

    80 something wins even without johnny & carlos double d’s……on the scene?
    you are absolutely a prediction daredevil that’s what you are my friend. bam! there i said it…
    and i thought my 109 win prediction on the morning of opening day last yr. right here on this blog was needless to say somewhat lofty to put it mildly & yes perhaps a bit delusional….
    but 80+ in the win column for this group of young wacky kids….
    that’s just crazy talk that’s what that is……..
    bam! there i said it again.

    MW: I didn’t say I thought they would be a .500 team – I said that I thought they COULD be one. There’s a big difference.

    - darrell bishop
  21. 21.

    (Somehow, the anti-spam word “approprow” is rather apropos. Blast, I had to look that up, I thought there was a double-p somewhere.)

    Funny, I was really excited when they put in the new turf – there were lots of articles about how much better it was than the previous carpet, almost indistinguishable from grass. But then my enthusiasm faded as I couldn’t help noticing the checkerboardesque appearance. And not cool diamond patterns and such like at natural grass parks, but… rectangles.

    Funny because, although it took longer, I have gone through the same process with the Dome. Thought it was pretty cool at first, although I thought they missed the boat by not having the proposed falcons circling high above the Dome keeping out the gulls. (Can you imagine? Bloody bones falling into the right field seats…) Over the years I’ve found myself cooling off about the dome and wishing for a dedicated baseball facility.

    I hope that if they are in fact redoing the turf it is better for the players and fans, and I hope they find something cooler to do with the Hard Rock than more seats.

    Thanks for staying in touch during the off-season Mike! (Yuck, root canal!)

    - James (from the Church of the Double Steal)
  22. 22.

    Hey Mike,

    2 quick questions…
    1) Why did the Jays even bother bringing Cito back for this year? He’s clearly not a clubhouse favourite and he’s leaving anyways next year, why not bring in someone specially tailored to helping improve the young guys?
    2) Do you think the Jays are in the running for Wang?

    MW: 1 – That question has been answered many times here. 2 – Always.

    - James R.
  23. 23.

    I have to admit that I was one of those people cheering the return of Cito. You know, the instant respect he would command from the players and so on. But, like just about everyone else, I had completely forgotten the sometimes truly bizarre managerial moves he’d make and how he left accusing anyone who criticized him of racism. Then came last night’s performance and I despaired at the thought of another year of weird decisions and mishandling players. At least he didn’t say he wanted Kevin Millar back to play third base everyday. Ugh.

    Having said that, I’m still optimistic about 2010. The Jays won’t contend but I don’t believe they’ll be as awful as some think. I also like what AA is doing along with the renewed focus on scouting and player development. I plan to get down to the ballpark as often as possible this summer.

    MW: Glad to hear it! There are plenty of good seats available.

    - Rob Theriault
  24. 24.

    Hi Mike,
    Looking forward, do you forsee the jays looking outside the organization for their next manager? I’ve always been impressed with Brian Butterfield and I think he could develop into an excellent manager. I just wonder if it is a difficult transition within an organization to go from field coach to manager.{ie.change of player communication dynamics..discipline etc.). Would it be wise to send someone like Butterfield to a farm team for further grooming in a managerial role first?
    Also, is it entirely crazy for a team with so many young arms to consider a 6-man rotation during stretches of the season??

    MW: It’s not entirely crazy, but I’m not sure it helps more than it hurts. Butterfield has managed in the minors before, and he’s of great use to the team as a third-base coach. I’d love to see him get a crack at the top job, but I don’t know if Alex will be looking for an established guy or not.

    - Barry
  25. 25.

    Mike… I think I’m correct in saying that you’ve mentioned in the past that if the Jays aren’t contending, you’d rather see innings go to Cecil, Purcey, Mills et al, rather than signing the John Garlands of the world..Keeping that same mindset, wouldn’t you rather see Wallace get the at bats over Delgado or Damon?

    MW: Nope – at least not until later in the season. I’d rather they keep control of Wallace for as long as possible.

    - chris m.
  26. 26.

    Cito will keep things pretty boring and predictable this year. He will fill in the same lineup card every game and will probably have Joey Gathright lead off because he is fast. In terms of a pitching rotation, would it make sense to go to a 6 man rotation? Marcum, Romero, Morrow, Rzepczynski, Cecil and one of McGowan, Ray, Purcey or Mills. I can’t explain why there have been so many injuries to their young pitchers and while it probably does not have anything to do with innings pitched and is just due to coincidence, it might be a good idea to exercise caution with the young staff. Whether you agree or not and I probably think you don’t agree, you probably would agree that the Blue Jays are the only team that would be able to get away with this since their manager doesn’t pinch hit and lets bench players rot like he did with John McDonald last season. Another advantage of having a six man rotation is that it allows the organization to watch another prospect pitch to major leaguers. The six man rotation does not have to be written in stone. Guys will get hurt. In the event of a short term injury you could back to a 5 man rotation for a turn or two. Also, if someone gets blown out real early the bullpen doesn’t have to get overworked as one of the 6 starters can pitch a couple of innings and then get his start pushed back a day or two.

    MW: It’s not as fluid as that, though. When you have guys in a routine, knowing when they’re going to pitch and working on their off-days towards that next start, it’s tough to drop them into the bullpen for a day or move them up a day. As well, it’s another roster spot and you probably wind up carrying 13 pitchers, which is ridiculous (yet happens some places anyway!), though you make a good point about Cito’s bench usage. Thing is, I’d rather have five guys starting in the majors and five others starting in the minors.

    - Domenick
  27. 27.

    Mike, you said the team could be .500 this year. I think they could very well end up in the basement.

    The whole Cito craze is not funny, it’s downright disturbing. We do NOT need Carlos Delgado. Cito seems like someone who collects old cars but doesn’t have any reliable enough to get him to work.

    MW: I don’t know if I get the comparison. You’re right, the Jays could very well finish last in the division.

    - Rob M
  28. 28.

    In regards to the attendance, lets face it Mike, if the Leafs could fit more than 20,000 into the ACC, they surely would with no problem at all, so for them to make it seem like the Jays are right with them in popularity is just ludicris. But in regards to your writing about Cito: this guy just seems like he has no frickin clue whats going on. No wonder the team had issues with him. How can he be so far disconnected from the happenings of the off season. He’s gonna screw up Sniders season for sure. Playing Bautista everyday instead of Snider is a huge mistake. They gotta let this guy develop. Oh man what a year this is going to be. I’ll be glad when the “Gerry” Cito Gaston hits the bricks at the end of the year. Thanks for the update!

    MW: The Jays aren’t right with them for popularity, there can never be any question about that. But do you think the Leafs could fill a 50,000 seat stadium? I doubt it. And I don’t understand your final-sentence insult of Cito.

    The insult is a reflection of his age. Geriatric—-”gerry” Thats what we call old people in Brantford. and as for the leafs…no they wouldnt fill a 50,000 seater on a regular basis, unless it was playoff time, but I bet they could do 25 every night easy.

    MW: You call old people “Gerry”? Cito is hardly geriatric, and his behaviour hasn’t changed a bit in the last 20 years – the things he says and does have nothing to do with his age. I bet the Leafs could do 25,000 every night easy, but the Jays averaged more than that the four or five years before last, no?

    - Dave
  29. 29.

    a) First and foremost, I hope your daughter’s feeling ok..All the fun stuff we gab about like baseball and music trivia ISN’T fun when your child’s ill and like any dad, Mike, you’d take a mouthful of root canals to make her feel better. And of course, Mike I hope you’re out of pain and you’re a special guy to do this blog when your definitely not 100%..Thank you.

    b) Do you think the Yankee’s outfield looks incomplete presently and do you think they’ll try to acquire someone and maybe whom?

    c) Some ’80′s lyrics for you to decipher:

    Stage fright, candle light
    You can’t let go
    Tonight’s the night
    Came back for you
    Glad to see
    That you came too….( A small clue, though with your musical acumen, you don’t need it…For the first word of the bands’ name, think Milton Bradley or Ron Wilson)

    MW: A – Thanks. B – Incomplete? Nah, I think an outfield of Winn, Granderson and Swisher is pretty solid. C – You got me with that one. The Moody Blues, huh? Not the greatest ’80s band, for sure, though “Your Wildest Dreams” is a terrific song. Most of their great stuff, as you well know, came much earlier.

    - chris m.
  30. 30.

    I am excited about the upcoming season. I have been a loyal follower of the jays since the early 80′s and am an eternal optimist. I like what AA is doing and am more worried about developing the pitchers than I am with who plays 1st or Dh’s this year. It would be nice to establish a solid starting 5 and keep them together for the bulk of the season. Do you think the young guys are ready to role in the bigs or would Cecil, Marc R. be better suited to a year in the minors? I have heard talk of Purcey being put in the pen. 6ft 4 220 lefty in the pen smells a bit like a closer in a couple years. Again, I am an optimist.

    MW: You need to go by a lot more than height and weight when making your assessments of pitchers. Purcey is out of options, and if he can’t make the rotation will either start in the bullpen or get traded – they could try to sneak him through waivers, but I don’t think he’d make it unless he has just an awful spring. I think Cecil and Rzep would be better served in the rotation this season, but if McGowan is healthy, there’s only room for one of them.

    - Kevin
  31. 31.

    Mr. Wilner, a few thoughts.

    1. As much fun as it would be to have Mr. Delgado back again, as well Mr. Damon here, I really hope the Jays don’t sign them. If the Jays are serious about actually rebuilding, they need to give the young guys playing time. They are the future. Signing Delgado and Damon would be too much of a Toronto Maple Leaf’s move.

    2. Cito scares me. I really wish we would have a different manager this year for all the reasons that you have mentioned. I really don’t like the fact that he’s already given Jose Bautista a starting job. I’m afraid Snider is going to be on the bench a lot which really isn’t going to do him any good.

    3. I’m really curious as to who the shortstop is that Anthopoulos is trying so diligently to land. Any ideas?

    4. I’m excited about our rotation, both this year and the future. If McGowan and Marcum can get/stay healthy then we have a surplus of young pitching talent which is never a bad thing.

    5. I’m very excited to read Dirk Hayhurst’s book! I hope he gets a bullpen job with the Jays this year. He sounds like a great individual.

    MW: 1 – There’s no way both sign, and I’d rather have Damon than Jose Bautista playing against righties. 2 – He’ll be in Vegas before he’s on the bench a lot. 3 – I don’t think it’s just one guy. 4 – Even if they can’t. 5 – I want to read that Hayhurst book, too, but don’t get too excited about seeing him in the majors this year.

    - Logan
  32. 32.

    I can see bringing in somebody like Johnny Damon for a year since the Jays could use another OF but I see no sense at all in bringing back an old Carlos Delgado.There are several options at first with or without Overbay.Why would a rebuilding team want an old player who is in decline?Cito is sometimes just too loyal to older players who can no longer cut the mustard.

    MW: Delgado wouldn’t come here as a first baseman, he’d be a DH, and it’s not Cito’s decision, thankfully.

    - Paul
  33. 33.

    Hey Mike, I know the Rogers center was built to be not just a ballpark but an entertainment complex as well.
    I think at this day in age there should at least be some major rennovations to add more outtfield seating(within home run range)and just better sight lines in general to make it look and feel more like a ball park. Also, if Minnesota can have an outdoor park why can’t Toronto?

    MW: The Dome is only 20 years old, we don’t need a new ballpark yet. I think there will be more outfield seating soon.

    - John McLean
  34. 34.

    Hey M.W
    I am planning a trip to Florida at the end of Feb.
    Wanted to rent a car a check out a few differnt teams
    any suggestions/recomendations?


    MW: Of car rental companies?

    - Matt
  35. 35.

    Cito, Cito, Cito….. Bautista hitting 25HR is a joke. Why is Cito in love with him?

    Also when has stealing bases, bunting, the hit-and-run become “crazy things” to score runs?

    MW: Cito loves Bautista because he hit a bunch of home runs in September/October, is a phenomenal defender and is, according to Cito, a good, quiet guy in the clubhouse. And bunting is kind of crazy.

    - Luka
  36. 36.

    Just listened to you, Mike, on the Fan (Jan 30th). I think Cito has some serious character flaws and will be problematic with players like Snider and later, Wallace. The aim of this year is not winning so much as development. Beeston and/or Anthopoulis should make certain Cito’s aware of this fact before spring training. Honestly, I find Cito’s approach to coaching idiosyncratic at best, and, along with his personality,sometimes downright wierd.

    MW: The field manager’s goal will always be to win every game.

    - Will, Oshawa
  37. 37.

    Wouldn’t a healthy McGowan be nice gravy?

    MW: Tasty gravy, indeed. Though given the chops, he might be mint jelly.

    - Scotty
  38. 38.

    Lets talk about misguided loyalty to Beeston as well as Gaston..You always leave Mr Beeston out of the equasion..

    Its comical really, Beeston left this team in a horrible state..But you feel its pertinent to leave your head neck deep in the sand..You are right about one thing- he isn’t the “baseball guy” he is the “head baseball guy.”..And he is riding the coatails of victories past every bit as much as your personal whipping boy Gaston..

    Beestons record is 367-424 post Gillick..Not impressive by any standard..Gastons record since returning to the Jays is 126-124..Not great but not bad considering the team he has..We’ll see what happens this year..

    I think the Jays will do better then expected this year..I think they will finish about .500 this season maybe better with Marcum and McGowan back..I was dead on last season at 75 wins..

    You will perhaps have a whole season to bash Gaston..Funny how that will be ok considering how much you defended Riccardi when people didn’t like him..

    MW: I will not spend the whole season “bashing” Cito, but I will make my opinion very clear about the things he does or doesn’t do, whether I agree with him or not. Based on past experience, I’m likely to not agree with a whole lot of the things he does. As for the Beeston thing, I think you think he has a lot more control of things on the baseball side than I think he does.

    - ray b
  39. 39.

    ‘I agree with you that Cito’s performance was pretty brutal for someone who has been following the team all winter, but a lot of the people there haven’t been. Remember the question about the return for the Halladay trade? The fan asking said he had heard the names of the players who came back, but nothing else.’

    i would think we would be holding the manager of the team to a higher standard in terms of knowledge than some random season ticket holder. i hope it was a misstatement by cito rather than him actually thinking it was casey

    MW: You missed my point, which was that the vast majority of the people in attendance hadn’t been following the teams moves closely at all all winter.

    - GeneralZod
  40. 40.

    MW: I actually think the Jays could very well be a .500 team even without adding Damon and Delgado.

    I couldn’t get to the bash–business got in the way–but I was happy to hear reports that AA said being a .500 team was nice but not enough. (I know you’re only referring to next season in your comment above.) I’ve too often been to the State of the Franchise meetings and heard how wonderful, we’ve got a winning team etc etc because the team ended above .500 while not even smelling the playoffs at any point in the season.

    MW: I don’t think it was “how wonderful” – most the comments about being over .500 three years in a row came in response to people talking about how bad the team was, which it wasn’t.

    - isabella reyes
  41. 41.

    Cito can be a good Manager for the right team. And he was the right manager in the early 90s. But a “sit back and let your veterans pull themselves out of their own mess” kinda manager isn’t going to cut it with this team. When you’re a manager who doesn’t play/trust your kids (snider batting 9th, Millar clean up?) you cannot lead a team where your greatest team asset is it’s talented youth.

    This rebuilding transition needs to be like a band-aid. Just rip it off! Get Snider and Wallace in there everyday; they are the future. Park Jose B and Overbay. Maybe we make some errors and maybe we are a 0.400 team instead of 0.500 team, who cares? Forget about those Free Agents that are in here for a year taking development time from the team’s future.

    MW: I think the Blue Jays should be concerned with Wallace’s service time, for one, which means he shouldn’t break with the team. Snider has nothing to prove at AAA, so he should be playing everyday in the majors, but Wallace could still stand a bit of seasoning, I think.

    - David
  42. 42.

    Do you have a Twitter account?

    MW: No, I don’t.

    - Tony B
  43. 43.

    Hey Mike,

    Has anyone in management ever though of or at least discussed having actual full dirt around the base paths, not just aruond the bases, so it looks like an actual baseball filed? Prettu sure the Jays are the last team who still has this setup. I think it would go a long way in improving the look and atmosphere of the game.

    MW: It’s been discussed, and I think the decision was that it would negatively affect the multi-purpososity of the place.

    - Troy
  44. 44.

    Why does Cito’s mustache never get the credit it deserves? It’s a really great tickler! Not Rollie Fingers-good, but very high on the list!

    - Karmi
  45. 45.


    1. You said I was “dreaming” when I laid out what the Jays’ lineup(s) “should” look like. I realize that The Manager most likely will not construct lineups this way, so yes, you could say I am dreaming. But I also wanted your opinion of those lineups, if possible. (I refer to “Better in the Bahamas, response #34)

    2. I, for some reason, think it is possible that Bautista could surprise as an every day leadoff guy this season. He seems to have a very good eye, and I think the coaches really helped Scutaro develop more patience at the plate than he had ever shown. He took so many more pitches compared to his 2008 season, it almost seemed like he was taking anything that wasn’t a dead ringer strike. Do you think it is possible that Bautista thrives in the leadoff role, under intense instruction, and posts a high (or decent)OBP? I predict .350, at least.

    3. Do you think, even though I know you said the Jays don’t believe in Ruiz, that he will make the team, even as a bench guy or platoon mate with Overbay? I would like to see him get regular ABs, but even limited action would be worth a look.

    4. If you had to guess, who is this year’s “surprise” player/pitcher? (A happy surprise for us fans, btw!)

    Thanks! I can’t wait for ST!

    MW: 1 – I actually do like your line-up against righties, though I still don’t think Hill walks enough to hit second. Against lefties, you’re loading up with pop up top, but it’s OK. Neither will ever happen, though. 2 – Lightning rarely strikes twice. Bautista is a lifetime .227/.316/.366 hitter against right-handed pitching. Chances are he will be an awful lead-off man. 3 – I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen with Ruiz. They don’t seem high on him at all, but he had a phenomenal winter and has lost a bunch of weight. I would love to see him get the chance to play a lot, too. 4 – Rzepczynski?

    - andy mc
  46. 46.

    Mike you are dreaming about the Jays’ being a .500 team. Young unproven pitching and an offense except for Lind and Hill is lacking. The Jays’ brass is very disappointing. They should sign Delgado and Hudson just for quality players who have a good history with Toronto fans.
    This will truly be a long and painful season.

    MW: Again, I never said I thought they’d be a .500 team this year, but they could be. How would Delgado and Hudson help the process of building a winner here?

    - Kelly Pfeiffer
  47. 47.

    Hey there Mike, nice blog post. Now, Cito Gaston mentioned that he wants Carlos Delgado back, now with Damon saying that he’s open minded with moving to the Jays. Who do you think would be going to the Jays if any at all?

    MW: I doubt either of them will.

    - Adam
  48. 48.


    ” It’s too bad, really, misguided loyalty generally never helps.”

    Come on, you know better than that! ‘generally never helps’ The line should have read ‘in general, misguided loyalty doesn’t help.’ Because if it never helps, it never helps. Ever.

    I’ll put it down to the root canal…

    MW: Thanks.

    - isabella reyes
  49. 49.


    As AA continues his tenure as the “new” GM, it seems as though he’s quite like JP when he started here. A bunch of no-risk, high- reward type of minor-league signings. Minus the salary dumps that JP had to make, the enthusiasm and confidence is quite similar. The love of “big arms” or guys who throw hard and guys who have power. A.Gon is a defensive guy first but he was also one of the very very few guys on the market the Jays could have signed. However, A.Gon and Buck are known as guys who won’t hit for much of an average but has some good power potential (for their positions). These guys kind of mirror the same types of guys JP liked. I’m not sure I “buy” into AA’s plan because it’s not really that much different than JP’s.

    MW: J.P.’s plan actually worked pretty well for a while there.

    - JT
  50. 50.

    The Blue Jays in my opinion are not in as bad shape as people take it to be. They have young pitchers that will help them in years to come. There farm system is now stocked with the Halladay deal and Travis Snider is just entering his prime. I’m not expecting a miracle season from the Blue Jays but I do expect the Blue Jays to be in a much better position than people expect them to be.

    MW: So do I.

    - Dylan
  51. 51.


    After watching Burkie dump several deadwood yesterday, it made me think, how long do you forsee the Jays will be bogged down by the work JP did? How many years has he put this franchise behind? Do you think AA has the ability to make a similar type move?

    MW: The Jays aren’t bogged down at all with the work that J.P. did. What deadwood do you see that the Jays have to move?

    - Bobby
  52. 52.

    any ideas which shortstops AA is interested in?

    MW: All the good young ones.

    - Joe
  53. 53.

    MW “The Jays aren’t right with them for popularity, there can never be any question about that. But do you think the Leafs could fill a 50,000 seat stadium? I doubt it. And I don’t understand your final-sentence insult of Cito.”

    What about if the ticket prices of the Leafs were the price of the Jays? I could then easily seem them getting 50,000. However, if the Jays had the prices of the Leafs they would be lucky to draw 5,000.

    MW: This is true. Hockey prices are outrageous.

    - Dave J
  54. 54.

    Hey Mike,

    I don’t get how the Jays minor league system is rated in the bottom 5. I don’t know if there is an organization with more pitching depth than the Jays, they are going into next season with more than 15 guys who can conceivably make the starting rotation.

    Is there a groupthink going on about the Jays minor league system or are they legitmately this bad?

    MW: I don’t think the Blue Jays actually have 15 guys who would be good starting pitchers at the major-league level. I don’t really buy the minor-league ranking thing – as I’ve said many times, the best way to rate a team’s minor-league system is to wait 8-10 years, and then check.

    - Stevie H.
  55. 55.

    Tom Cheek not getting the Ford Frick award was an insult to his memory. The selection committee should make a personal apology to Ms Cheek.

    I know this sounds a little extreme, but this really ticked me off. I guess we’ll have to double the fan voting for Tom next year, and do a letter writing campaign or something. None of the other members of the shortlist deserve it half as much as Tom does.

    MW: A lot of the members of the short list deserve it almost as much as Tom does, and that’s the problem.

    - Sam McLean
  56. 56.

    I agree with you 100%..I think the Jays will be better then expected this year..I think J.P did start out well in Toronto and AA has looked pretty good too..

    But J.P took over this team with Halladay and AA started out trading him because J.P was unable to bring the Jays to the next level..

    Let’s not forget wad of dough owed to B.J Ryan and the 20 million bucks plus owed to Wells for the next few years..So AA inherited a team similar to the one J.P did both in W-L record, talent and contracts..AA inherited a team 75-87 and J.P 80-82..J.P was left with the Mondesi contact and AA with the Wells contact..

    I think this team was short on young talent when AA took over but the Halladay and League trades have helped in that area..But they are still thin in the minor leagues and I think minor league rankings mean something or why would they even have them?..

    8 years from now most if not all of the players in the minors today will be gone or on other teams..

    Players are ranked and classified by some very good baseball scouts to help GM’s rate and trade for players..If minor league rankings mean diddly squat then why bother having them at all?

    MW: Because we have to rank things. Fans need as much information as they can get, and there are people who can make a living providing such information. As I’ve said before, go back and look at Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects list for each team from before the 2001 season, and see how many of the guys on that list actually made an impact, and how many impact players were completely missed. Eight years from now is when you want the guys who are currently in A-ball and AA to be impact players in the major leagues – if you think they’re all going to be gone or on other teams by then, then why are you concerned at all with minor-league rankings?

    - ray b
  57. 57.

    The only players left from the 2000 Jays is Dustin McGowan and Vernon Wells..So all the prospects from 2000 are gone save 2..Its not always about what prospects make the roster its about whom they may get for them..So I guess I’m wondering why you worry about where all these guys are 8 years from now when most of them won’t be playing for the Jays anyway?..Maybe AA will change that..

    Like you said we have to rank things and the Jays are ranked in the bottom 3rd..

    So lets look at Baseball Americas top 10 prospects in 2000..

    1 Vernon Wells 1236G/.280BA/.325OBP..Longest seving Jay and up until the last few seasons,the Jays best offensive player..

    2 Felipe Lopez..

    1024/.269/.338..Bounced around a bit but 8 seasons and an all-star game in 2005..He finished last season with a .320 BA and a .401OBP

    3 Caesar Izturis..Remember Chad Ricketts??

    1017/.252/.298..Won a gold glove in 2004 and one of the rare cases of Tommy John surgery performed on a SS..

    4 Michael Young..traded for Loiaza..Ouch

    1351/.302/.349..2005 batting champion, 6x all star, gold glove..The Jays have been searching for a SS since 1997..Smooth move Mr Ash..

    5 Josh Phelps..One year wonder..

    465/.273/.343..Good power but SO are pretty high..

    6 Gary Glover..

    .503 ERA in 263 games isn’t so impressive but the guy has hung around for a bit not bad for 426th overall pick..

    7 Brent Abernathy..

    232/.244/.297..Most people expected more from him..

    8,9.10 Andy Thompson, Kevin Whitt and John Sneed Didn’t do much at all..

    I’d have to say the ranking of these propects, in this year was very good..M Young is an outstanding SS and Wells didn’t sign a monster deal for nothing..

    The top 5 prospects have played more then 5000 games at the major league level and 2 of them are or have been elite MLB players..

    Not sure how this helps your plight much..I think I’ll stick to BA’s rankings..Because hey, we have rank things right??

    MW: It’s very rare that you get two elites in the top five of any team any year, but look at the overall rankings. Young should have been second, and Lopez and Izturis have been marginal guys for most of their careers. The other six didn’t really wind up doing anything.

    - ray b
  58. 58.

    Wow..Marginal players??..I’d say a little better then that..Izturis and Lopez have played in all-star games and one of them won a gold glove and the other a silver slugger award..

    Marginal players don’t play more then 1000 games and do you actually expect to find more then one or two elite players every year?..These guys aren’t elite players but certainlly not marginal..

    In 1997 BA’s top 2 Jays prospects were Halladay and Carpenter..Both of them have won Cy Young awards..So its much more common then you think..

    These rankings are not perfect but as you go through each teams top 10 prospects you will see some big names..Certainlly they mean something and are a good indication as to what teams have in their system..

    MW: Maybe “marginal” means something different to me than it does to you. Both Lopez and Izturis wound up being OK major-leaguers, and maybe Lopez has wound up being even average, but neither of them turned out to be guys you’d want back as key pieces in a trade for something major. For example, let’s say that back in 2001, the Expos, unable to meet his contract demands, traded Vladimir Guerrero and got the Jays’ second- and third-best prospects, Lopez and Izturis. Is that the kind of impact return the Expos would have wanted? Probably not.

    - ray b
  59. 59.

    i love BA,,its more hit then miss,,,,,rarely (non latin’s) are missed on BA lists. Its more fact then fiction. The problem is that,,BA ranks jays low year after year,,and that does not help arguments on the farm system here. This is why its not a valued source on this blog

    MW: That’s not why it’s not a valued source on this blog. No projections are valued sources because that’s all they are – projections. It amazes me that you can say that a top prospect list is “fact” – it can’t possibly be, no matter who puts it together.

    - lemongellofan
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