7:15 PM Eastern
After yesterday’s frenzy of activity, today was bound to be quieter and tomorrow will probably be quiet, too. BlueJayically, anyway. Not a single announcement has been made at the podium here on Day 2 as I write this, and though the rumour mill continues to spin fast and furious with names like Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford on the high end and Gregg Zaun and Jeff Francoeur on the low end, none of those rumours involve your Toronto Blue Jays.
That, of course, may mean that something is up, because whenever the Jays are talked about as an involved party in a negotiation, nothing happens. The deals Alex Anthopoulos makes almost always come out of nowhere.
Alex addressed that when he gave his daily briefing to the assemblage late this afternoon, just before he went on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown (did he say hi to Bob for me like I asked?). He explained that he’d rather not be completely quiet and not comment on anything, that he knows the hot stove league is a big part of the fun for the fans, and that if he were a fan he’d want to know what his team was up to and in whom they were interested. The problem is that he’s seen first-hand trades and signings that were close wind up falling apart because other parties get wind of the negotiations and stick their noses in. He’s done it himself. The only way he can ensure that no one else is going to get gum up the works is if no one else knows what’s going on, and he can’t pick and choose on which scenarios he comments - so it’s complete radio silence.
That said, we did glean a few nuggets from Alex today. Among them, J.P. Arencibia is very, very likely to be the starting catcher in 2011. Arencibia has spent two years at AAA and is coming off an MVP season in Las Vegas, so it’s time to see what he can do at the major-league level. Anthopoulos would like to have some insurance in case J.P. doesn’t stick – because how many young players reach the majors to stay the first time they’re given an opportunity – but it’s not a priority and not something for which they’re actively looking.
Aaron Hill is not moving off of second base unless the Jays can acquire a piece significant enough to make them move him, and Brett Lawrie is not that. Not yet, anyway (though Lawrie’s future is probably at third, or in the outfield).
Anthopoulos would like to address the back end of the bullpen, and he’s not necessarily going to try to wait out the free agent closers who are on the market now and grab the one who’s left standing when the music stops, as he did with Kevin Gregg last year. That doesn’t mean he’s going to make a move on a closer right now, but signing Gregg when he did last winter wasn’t planned, he just happened to be out there, affordable and a fit. The same thing could happen again, unplanned again. Alex talked about Jason Frasor and Shawn Camp as the ones who have had the most experience and success at the back of the bullpen, and then added Casey Janssen and Carlos Villanueva into the conversation. He also mentioned David Purcey, but didn’t mention Josh Roenicke.
I asked him if he had any offers out there to any agents or G.M.’s that, if someone called him back with a “yes”, would be done deals. He said he doesn’t work that way. His predecessor did – J.P. Ricciardi often talked about offers that were out on which someone was sitting. Anthopoulos prefers not to let an agent or G.M. sit on a deal for a couple of days or a week or whatever, and part of that is because that enables them to shop that offer around to other teams to try to do better.
We also got something out of him about the Carlos Pena rumour that was so hot yesterday and about all the Zack Greinke talk. At least I think we did, he didn’t mention any names.
Alex said that there was a rumour yesterday that had the Blue Jays very, very interested in a player, and a few hours after that rumour began spreading, Alex got a phone call from that very player’s agent asking if he wanted to discuss signing his guy. That was Pena. That’s also kind of hilarious.
As for the Greinke thing, that was a little more abstract. Anthopoulos mentioned that there are a lot of really good players he’d love to acquire, but the asking price is too high and the club doesn’t get better because of what he’d have to give up. He said he’d inquired on a lot of players that he’d really love to have, but based on the asking price he thinks the Blue Jays would wind up worse off for the acquisition. That could well be a reference to the whole Drabek and Snider for Greinke thing, but who knows if those names were ever actually discussed.
The Jays may very well be done as far as making moves here in Orlando, though they could grab somebody in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft (Adam Miller, anyone? Fu-Te Ni? Mark Hamburger? How could you not want Mark Hamburger?), but there’s still groundwork being laid for future moves. Anthopoulos mentioned that while he didn’t do anything in Indianapolis last year, he made major strides towards the eventual Halladay and Morrow deals.
Ten Anthopoulos clips are in the hopper at the radio station, and here they are for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, there will probably be a live blog, I’m thinking at about 10:30 AM Eastern, so show up here with your questions and comments. Then it’s the off-the-record lunch with John Farrell, followed by the announcement of the Ford C. Frick Award winner. If there’s any justice in this crazy world, Blue Jays fans will be celebrating a date with Cooperstown for the second time in three days. Go Tom Go!