6:10 PM Central

Part of every Winter Meetings is a half-hour media sit-down with every big-league manager – the Yankees even participate in this now! – and John Farrell sat down to discuss all things Blue Jayic (and some things Red Soxal).

Before I get to the highlights of our conversation with him, though, I want to touch on something Alex Anthopoulos said at least half a dozen times this afternoon while we were talking to him about the Molina-Santos trade (see previous blog post).  For the first time ever in his career as the Jays’ G.M., Anthopoulos mentioned payroll parameters.  He talked about the fact that he has a budget within which he has to work, and this was a bit of a surprise.

We had always thought that the Blue Jays’ payroll was a fluid thing – that they spent what they spent and if they needed to spend more, that was fine.  We know now that this isn’t the case.  Anthopoulos was very clear that there are parameters within which he has to work, though if the right opportunity presents itself, he can go to Paul Beeston and request the additional funds and Beeston would go to ownership on his behalf.  Apparently, Alex wanted to quiet the voices that are screaming that the Jays have no ceiling on their payroll and that they could go to $120 or $150 million this winter.  They can’t.  I can’t think of any other reason that Alex would bring this up, there was no need for it, no question asked. It remains, as Paul Beeston has always said, that the payroll will rise as the revenues rise.  Maybe that will finally stop the Prince Fielder talk, but somehow I doubt it.

On to the skipper!  Farrell touched on a wide range of topics, and the audio of the full session is presented below for your listening pleasure.

-Farrell was thrilled by this afternoon’s acquisition of Sergio Santos.  He loves the dominating stuff, the power arm with a well above-average slider.  He added that if one was to try to draw up a profile of what you would want in the 9th inning, this is the kind of stuff you would have.

-Farrell wants to add some left-handed depth in the bullpen, though he appreciates Casey Janssen’s ability to get left-handed hitters out.

-There are two keys that Farrell mentioned specifically as far as helping the Blue Jays move from a .500 team to a playoff contender:  An increase in the number of quality innings provided by the rotation, and an improvement in outfield defence.  To me, that means that Travis Snider has a slight edge on Eric Thames in what’s being called an open competition for the left field job.

-Farrell said that he believes both Snider and Thames have every ability to be regular major-league players.  He noted Thames’ natural confidence at the plate and said he did a very good job for his first year, and he talked about Snider’s polish as a defender and baserunner, but said he needs to let his talent and ability play out.  The two of them had 2011′s that are comparable, which makes Spring Training that much more important for them.

-As far as the rotation goes, Henderson Alvarez comes to camp with a spot to lose, and Dustin McGowan comes to camp as a member of the rotation, with the Jays watching his progress to see if he can be healthy and ready for Opening Day.  A normal, healthy off-season is key for McGowan.  Kyle Drabek will also come to Spring Training to compete for a spot in the rotation – he has to learn to trust in his fastball when he gets in hitters’ counts, not to overthrow it, and to get some contact.  Farrell said that the Jays have to remain patient and objective when evaluating their young pitchers, because they all develop at different rates.

-Farrell believes Brett Cecil will be a key part of the rotation improving in ’12.  He’s very impressed with Cecil’s off-season work so far; he’s lost weight and seems committed to getting into much better shape.

-Farrell wants his hitters to be more committed to getting on base.  He said they need to value the base on balls more – not to go up to the plate looking to take a walk, but to “understand that there’s a relentless approach towards a strike zone discipline that we’re all striving for.”  He wants to develop the kind of offense that forces pitchers into high pitch counts early and, therefore, get to the soft underbelly of middle relief more often.

-On Adam Lind, Farrell believes that next year, he’ll have a better understanding of the volume of work there is in Spring Training.  He was trying to play catch-up with groundball work early in spring last year and it likely taxed him physically.  Farrell believes that there’s still another step forward in Lind’s overall production at the plate, pointing to the fact that Lind missed over a month on the DL and had a lengthy slump in the second half, but still hit 25 home runs.  When asked if Lind was still his clean-up hitter, Farrell answered in the affirmative, but without enthusiasm:  ”Yeah,  Yeah.  Unless something….somebody else comes along.”

-Farrell is very happy to have Jeff Mathis, an athletic, aggressive catcher.  He loves the way Mathis throws and how he takes charge behind the plate.  Farrell believes that there’s something to Mathis’ relatively low catcher’s ERA and the fact that the Angels had a better winning percentage with him behind the plate.  He said that when a pitcher has confidence in the game that’s being called, he can move into a mindless state where he just throws what the catcher puts down, almost robotically, and when that happens, a better game is often thrown.

-Farrell made sure to note that the acquisition of Mathis doesn’t indicate that the Blue Jays are displeased with J.P. Arencibia in any way.  Not only would he sign up for 23 homers and 78 RBIs out of his catcher in 2012 right now, but he believes that Arencibia will develop into an all-star catcher.

-Lastly, he addressed the relentless October speculation that the Red Sox wanted him to be their manager and he wanted the job by saying “I’m a Toronto Blue Jay.  It’s humbling when your name is associated with any potential opening, but I’m completely happy here and committed to the Blue Jays.  To think about any other place or position while you’re doing your own is a disservice to where you are.  I’m excited about being here and  look forward to putting this team together and winning a World Series here.  I’m happy to be doing it here.”

The full audio of the Farrell session is right here, for your listening pleasure:

Download

That should be it for tonight, though I’ll be on the Twitter on and off, you can find me @wilnerness590.  And of course, if any other Blue Jays news breaks, I’ll try to put the pieces together for you here.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!

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15 Responses to “John Farrell – Highlights”
  1. 1.

    Pretty good read, he seems committed too letting guys like Cecil, Snider, Drabek, Thames learn through the learning curves. As always good too hear from you Mike

    - Nishanth
  2. 2.

    What do you think are the chances that we get Votto when he hits the FA and if there truly are a lot of budget restrictions that the Jays will be facing, would we be able to afford him?

    I would like to see a lineup that could potentially look like:

    Gose- CF
    Snider – DH (assuming he pans out)
    Bautista – RF
    Votto – 1B
    Lawrie – 3B
    D’Arnaud/Arencibia – C
    Escobar – 2B
    Marsnick – LF
    Hech – SS

    MW: I think you’re putting a lot of faith in guys who are still very far away from the major leagues.

    - Harry
  3. 3.

    Mike now that Rauch has signed. Do the Jays get a sandwich pick and a 2nd

    MW: No, Rauch was a Type B free agent, like Francisco and Jose Molina, so the Jays get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds for losing each one of them. If Kelly Johnson leaves, the Jays would get a sandwich pick plus another pick, the location of which would depend on which team signs Johnson.

    - David
  4. 4.

    Glad to hear our largest free agent has moved on. We’re going to have a good number of picks for this years draft. Hopefully Kelly and Franky decline arb.

    Do you know what this year’s draft crop is like? Normal/better than normal/weaker than normal…

    Will AA continue to draft mostly pitching? Its obvious they like to build depth in pitching, but does it seem to you that they would rather acquire position players via trade and just focus on pitching for the draft?

    Great coverage down there Wilner.

    - JP
  5. 5.

    Thanks for the audio, Mike.

    MW: You’re welcome!

    - George
  6. 6.

    RE: McGowan

    When he said McGowan is a member of the rotation did he mean he is going to remain a starter and compete for a spot? Or has a spot in the starting five?

    MW: McGowan is a special case because he’s out of options. It seems likely that he’ll either start the season in the rotation or on the disabled list.

    - Wesley
  7. 7.

    i would say it is his to lose…
    really he is the veteran now.

    MW: I have no idea to whom you’re referring.

    - Anonymous
  8. 8.

    Hey Mike, just wanted to make a comment about Alex Anthopoulos.

    As I see it, up until about 2000, the role of the general manager had remained static. Scouts evaluated prospects, then relayed the information to the GM. Not much different from the way things were done fifty years earlier!

    However, the best GMs soon learned that the way to get a competitive advantage would be to do things “ahead of the curve!”

    The first real avant-garde philosophy, of course, was Moneyball – the cult of the OBP and a heavy emphasis on college players in the draft. It certainly worked well for Billy Beane, but by the time of the publication of Lewis’ book, it had pretty much become mainstream.

    Perversely, the next GMs to think “ahead of the curve” were the ones who veered away from Moneyball. Around 2003, the commodity most GMs were ignoring was high school pitchers (in the draft). This allowed non-Moneyball GMs to snatch up players like Clayton Kershaw much later in the first round than they would have otherwise.

    When Alex Anthopoulos came to Toronto, he saw that the new way to gain a competitive edge and be “ahead of the curve” would be to focus on draft and scouting! He loaded up on picks, and took high-ceiling players! This approach worked extremely well until…

    The new CBA. But the good news is that Anthopoulos seems to have found the next way to be “ahead of the curve!” The Molina for Santos trade is a wonderful example. Prospects have actually become overvalued (by fans and GMs alike), while the important factor is MONEY! Anthopoulos will save the Blue Jays major financial headaches with savvy moves like this one, and more spending room will be left to fill the rest of their holes!

    - Nick
  9. 9.

    Classic chicken and egg scenario; fill the Dome and we’ll increase payroll. Field a better team (generally requiring payroll) and attendance will improve.

    Hence the “we’ll spend when the team is a contender” never seems to come.

    Go Jays. If you can miraculously challenge for the wildcard with an 80M payroll, it could be raised…yes it can be done but the blue moon doesn’t rise often…

    - Gary
  10. 10.

    Mike as a fellow BlueJays fan with Anthopoulos mentioning payroll paremeters, as a BlueJays fan that sounds a little discouraging. As you said I always thought there were no restricitions on what the BlueJays spend on payroll, but just how they spent it was the issue. To hear Anthopoulos mention that yesterday worries me a little bit. I know BlueJays aren’t going to sign Prince Fielder and maybe that’s why Anthopoulos mentioned payroll parameters yesterday to shutdown all the rumors involving Fielder & BlueJays & hopefully that’s all that he meant by mentioning that

    MW: That could have been all he meant, but it could have meant more than that. There was no reason for Anthopoulos to bring up payroll parameters – he did it extemporaneously, no one asked him about it, which means he wanted it out there.

    - Mike Fahmy
  11. 11.

    One Moneyball concept works, on base percentage, the rest only works for the cash poor Oakland As.

    I’m a little worried by the budget talk. Revenues at the stadium are not going up but tv numbers are solid. Even if the team does better the myth that stadium revenues will increase are mostly wrong. The Rogers center is just not a fun place to go. They pack everyone in like cattle (remember when you could sit by yourself high in the stands?). Since they removed the smoking area if you want a cigarette you are not allowed reentry the building. They lost 5000 fans a night after removing the smoking room. These changes make watching the game at home more enjoyable. Winning is only one factor… I worry that even when the Jays get better attendance will never match projections. We’ll never a see a 25 million dollar free agent type in Toronto.

    Lucky we have AA. He GMs the same way I play baseball mogul. It’s the only way to constantly win in that game and it seems to be working for him.

    - Rob
  12. 12.

    You mention in your post that Snider and Thames had comparable 2011 seasons. Can you explain that statement? Doesn’t sound like you’re very high on Thames.

    MW: I was quoting the manager, and I think he meant that Thames and Snider had basically the same season after Snider was recalled in July (Thames – .245/.298/.427; Snider – .260/.262/.420). I’m not as high on Thames as I am on Snider, Snider is the far better defender and baserunner, and I think his ceiling as a hitter is higher.

    - Dennis
  13. 13.

    Since Santos used to be in the Jays system and he represents the O-dog in that Glaus-Rolen trade, I think somewhere along the line asset value has been lost for the Jays in the Santos-Molina trade. Santos is a minor league FA, so Kenny Williams is really getting Molina for free in terms of asset cost (draft pick/player)

    MW: OK

    - Atomic Frog
  14. 14.

    Thoughts on Jays trading Bautista? It doesn’t appear that this team is going to spend the money so why not cash in and get even more young talent while his value is astronomical.

    MW: They’ll move anyone in the right deal.

    - Gino
  15. 15.

    Hi Mike,

    Can you comment on any trade rumors you have heard regarding the Marlins old franchise shortstop Hanley Ramirez?

    Now that Jose Reyes is in town, I have read that he is not willing to move to third base and thus would result in some very valuable trade bait.

    Just wondering if you have heard any speculation.

    Regards,

    MW: I’ve heard a ton of speculation, but right now that’s all it is. His move may be tied to where Jimmy Rollins winds up.

    - - Darryl 86
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