12:09 AM Eastern

It appears as though the State of the French Fries at Rogers Centre is strong.  So strong, in fact, that not once did a fan in attendance at the Blue Jays’ annual opportunity for season ticket-holders to engage with the club’s main decision-makers pose a question about concessions or hot water in the washrooms or anything else having to do with the fan experience at the ballpark outside of what occurs between the white lines.

The talk was all about baseball, and that’s a good thing.

It wasn’t all positive, as a few interrogators wanted to know why the Blue Jays didn’t sign Prince Fielder, Yu Darvish or even Carlos Beltran and why they didn’t trade for Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez or Michael Pineda – but the tone in the overall wasn’t angry.  And they got some good answers, too!

Why didn’t the Blue Jays sign Fielder?  Paul Beeston isn’t willing to offer a free agent a contract that’s guaranteed for more than five years.  He feels that it’s the right way to go about the business of building a winning ballclub, and it has worked for the Blue Jays in the past.  It seems as though the game is moving in a direction in which such contracts will be necessary to sign elite-level free agents, but so far Beeston isn’t budging.  To his credit, Alex Anthopoulos says he will continue to work on Beeston, and that he did get his boss to change his previous policy of no deals longer than three years.  Anthopoulos also managed to convince Beeston that giving Ricky Romero a five-year contract (with an option for a sixth!) was a good idea.  To Beeston’s credit, most of the seven- and eight-year contracts awarded in the big leagues have been spectacular failures despite there having been every reason to believe they wouldn’t be at the time they were signed.

Why no Darvish?  Probably because he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the major leagues and the Rangers are going to pay an average of close to $20 million per year over the next six in order to secure his services.  As Anthopoulos said again tonight, the Jays knew going into this off-season that they weren’t likely going to be involved with the big-name, big-ticket free agents, and that includes Darvish.

Why no Beltran?  That’s where it gets interesting.  Anthopoulos was asked specifically about Beltran, and while he wouldn’t answer specifically, he did say that some players don’t want to play on turf, no matter how much you’re willing to pay them, and some don’t want to DH or switch leagues, no matter how much money you offer.  Later on in the evening, Anthopoulos said that there were two free agents to whom the Blue Jays offered more money than they eventually signed for.  It would seem those dots are pretty easily connectable, and one can feel pretty safe in assuming that Beltran was one of those two guys.  Who was the other?  If I had to guess, I’d say Ryan Madson.  Just a hunch, though.

As to the idea of trading for a top young starter, in talking his way around the answer to that question, Anthopoulos gave away more information than he ever has to me or any of my fellow media folk.  The Jays’ GM mentioned that he could have acquired a big-league starter, but that he would have had to have given up  more than just the talent that’s bubbling under the surface – it would have cost him players off his big-league roster.

Anthopoulos said he could have acquired a starter but would have had to have opened up a hole elsewhere (Brett Lawrie for Pineda?) or that he could have given up Henderson Alvarez and FOUR guys below him on the depth chart in order to acquire another starter (Latos?).  There were trades available to be made,  and Anthopoulos said that he could easily have made a deal over the past few months that would have gotten fans very excited, but come June, those same fans would have been calling for his head.

Other than all of that, which was some pretty broad hinting at great inside info, the two biggest things to come out of the State of the Franchise were mentioned by the president.

Beeston said that he believes the Blue Jays will be in the playoffs “two or three times over the next five years.”  He also mentioned that the Jays have been examining the idea of bringing real grass into Rogers Centre to replace the current AstroTurf.

In discussing the playing surface, Beeston acknowledged that some players not wanting to come to Toronto because of the turf is a real issue.  He also said that because they’re discussing putting in natural grass doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to do it – or even that it’s possible, given the Rogers Centre’s multi-purposeness – but it was really great to hear.  We’ve certainly come a long way from the 1/8- inch thick strip of green carpet that covered what would otherwise have been more parking lot at the Ex, but natural grass is the ideal surface on which to play.  They can get it for short stints, like for a soccer game, but can they get it in for 81 Blue Jays games?  Would it have to be removed after every homestand?  Can they put a drainage system in so it can be watered?  Lots of questions still need to be answered.

As for the playoff prediction, well, that had to be music to every Blue Jays fan’s ears.  It’s not all about hoarding draft picks and cycling through good players to get more, it’s not all about pushing the “compete” date farther and farther into the distance for rebuild after rebuild, it’s not about wasting years while they have the best  hitter in the game – it’s about building a winner, and doing it soon.  Of course, Beeston said that even though some fans want the Jays to fast-forward the plan, he didn’t think it was a good idea, and Anthopoulos piped in by saying that with that prediction, Beeston just did press that fast-forward button on him.

Among some of the other interesting things mentioned at the State of the Franchise:

-Beeston said MLB is discussing the idea that interleague games be played with league-opposite rules.  That is, A.L. rules in N.L. parks and vice-versa.  I’m  not a fan of interleague,  but we’re most assuredly stuck with it; I think that change would be welcome, and make things much more fun to watch.

-Beeston said that Tom Henke’s name always comes up when the Level of Excellence is discussed.

-John Farrell gave himself a C grade for his rookie season, and also said Travis Snider and Eric Thames will compete “head-up” for the starting job in left field and that defense will be an important part of the decision as to who wins the job.

-Anthopoulos poured cold water on one fan’s ridiculous assertion that Kelly Johnson was indifferent towards being a Blue Jay and often looked as though he’d rather be somewhere else.

-Farrell leapt to the defense of Colby Rasmus, answering one fan who insisted that the Jays gave up too much for their centrefielder by saying “we gave up a couple of good pitchers, but Colby will show that we didn’t overpay for him.”  In answering the same query, Anthopoulos pretty much said that the only key piece the Jays moved in that deal was Marc Rzepczynski, who has a “chance to be a very good left-handed reliever”.

-Farrell was asked who he thought could be the 2012 version of Brett Lawrie, and he spent a few minutes gushing about Drew Hutchison before also mentioning Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud and Deck McGuire.

After the fans got their chance to ask questions (the audio of which can be found elsewhere on this fine website and the video of which can be seen at sportsnet.ca), we media types has our shots at the evening’s main speakers.  Here, for your listening pleasure, is the audio of those scrums.

First, Blue Jays President Paul Beeston:

Download

General Manager Alex Anthopoulos:

Download

And last but not least, manager John Farrell:

Download

It was a fun night, it’s always great to be in a baseball environment in the middle of a late-January snowstorm.  I got to meet quite a few of you loyal readers and listeners, which was a treat, as well as a few Blue Jays bloggers, including Drew Fairservice of the late, great GROF and Drunk Jays Fan Andrew Stoeten, whom I’d met before and with whom I formed part of a Triple Play Roundtable last weekend along with the inestimable Rob E. Wong, who was my wingman at the event tonight.

If you’re following me on The Twitter @wilnerness590, you got a lot of the quotes from tonight’s event as they happened.  If you’re not, and you’d be interested in such things, then you probably should.

Comments are always welcome – I read them all and respond to most!

 

 

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43 Responses to “State of the French Fries 2012”
  1. 1.

    Mike, one question which I expected to hear and did not, was the future of the Jays’ AAA team. Did anything come up in this regard “off the record”?

    MW: It was never mentioned. Personally, I believe it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll be out of Vegas after 2012.

    - Norm
  2. 2.

    Mike,

    When team management is saying things like “no contracts longer than 5 years”, do they not realize that this is probably the reason that no big name free agent players i.e. Prince Fielder will ever sign with Toronto??? I mean these are the type of players that want the big money/long term commitments. If the Jays want to compete, they need to pony up the cash and the years, bottom line.

    MW: That’s not the bottom line, at all. How many contracts longer than five free-agent seasons do the Tampa Bay Rays have? The Texas Rangers? The St. Louis Cardinals? The Philadelphia Phillies? The Milwaukee Brewers? The Arizona Diamondbacks? A grand total of TWO – Yu Darvish and Matt Holliday. That’s six of last year’s eight playoff teams. Throw in the Tigers and you get all the way up to four such contracts.

    - Chris
  3. 3.

    Hey Mike how ya doin?

    MW: Good, thanks!

    - Johnny
  4. 4.

    The talk of a natural grass field in the ballpark is exciting. Having now passed its 20th birthday, do you ever hear rumblings about what comes after Sky Dome/Rogers Centre? It seems to me that it would make a fine football/special events stadium, but definitely not the best baseball experience, especially when compared with other fields built since Camden Yards. Maybe in 5-10 years we can hope for a beautiful, smaller, outdoor field at the Ex, Downsview, or the port lands? What do you think, Mike?

    MW: It depends who is paying for it. If Rogers wants to, I think it’s a great idea, but if they want the taxpayers to do so, forget it.

    - Josh C
  5. 5.

    I don’t like Interleague either, mainly because it’s unbalanced, and unfair. This year, I looked up some power rankings and did some figuring, and yes, The Blue Jays get hosed again. They have a tougher schedule than New York, Boston, or Tampa.
    If it comes down to a wild card race like last year, one game could be huge.

    - George
  6. 6.

    Hi mike

    Spring training is coming soon. My expectation of the jays is that they field players who try to the last out. If they are in the hunt until the very end, I would be happy. I also expect them to improve on a continued basis and i think that is a fair expectation

    - Francis
  7. 7.

    After listening to AA say in his audio comments that “we looked at the big 100 Million plus players out there and decided that we were not going to be in on it – and you can read into that” I think it’s pretty clear that the Jays did not bid on Darvish, which I have suspected all along due to AA’s clues he has dropped all along the way.

    MW: The Blue Jays most definitely did bid on Darvish.

    - Matt
  8. 8.

    I’m surprised how big a deal this years state of the franchise was compared to previous years. It was streamed live on Sportsnet and almost all the newsmedia had articles about the event before it happened. In previous years, it was simply a quick summary/story after the event.

    I’m surprised that the likes of Harden wasn’t mentioned as a potential target by fans as a Canadian the Jays should sign.

    MW: I like Harden because of his arm and his stuff, not his birth certificate.

    - JT
  9. 9.

    michael,
    interesting observations and discussion there last night on the notion that aa and the blue jays probably outbid all the others on at least a couple fa’s (and i think your guesses on who they might be are good ones btw) but didn’t get them in the end for the reasons aa mentioned.
    what are you gonna do?
    and by the sounds of it, the fact they’re considering grass in the ballpark at this point indeed tells you that they’re losing out on potential fa’s etc… because of it and this wasn’t the first time it’s probably happend. interesting.
    and aa’s experience this off season on what it was going to take to gather up a full fledged sp in the trade market was no doubt right on the money based on what we witnessed in terms of who got traded and for what and as importantly those who didn’t end up getting traded for the exact same reasons i’m sure…
    but if beeston could take one back, it wouldn’t be the upcoming playoff predictions michael (as he most definitely said it because he believes it to be true is my guess)
    no, the one i’d take back is when he said this team is “young, athletic and is going to try hard…”
    young…. nice, athletic… we’ll take that too, but will try hard??
    when does that ever come off sounding good when you’re referring to professional sports? honestly… not good.
    why didn’t he cap it off with mentioning “and along as they’re having fun out there..”
    oh well. everything else sounded spot on to me…

    MW: You should talk to Francis a couple of spots above.

    - darrell bishop
  10. 10.

    Great write up – much appreciated! Found this blog via DJF.

    MW: Thanks! What took you so long?

    - Tim
  11. 11.

    Hmm, regarding the grass, Beeston contends that “theorhetically and practically it can be done.” I’m going to guess they’ve figured out the drainage the growing part but you wonder about the quality.

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2012/01/31/bluejays_grassfield/

    - Jim
  12. 12.

    Hey Mike, I’m wondering why the Jays show no interest in the Cuban outfielder ( cespedes) not sure if I spelled it right but wouldnt he look pretty good in LF ? Marlins say they’re goin hard after him

    MW: The Blue Jays don’t show interest in anyone. They just make trades and sign people out of nowhere. There’s zero evidence to suggest that they’re not interested in Cespedes.

    - casey
  13. 13.

    Hey Mike,

    Love your commentary as always. I’m disappointed that noone asked what I think is the most pertinent question for AA. IF his payroll parameters were significantly higher as most fans desire, would he have done anything differently this offseason and how?

    MW: He wouldn’t have answered that. He made it very clear that the trades that were on the table weren’t ones he felt were right to do, and that he’s not interested in big-ticket free agents as a philosophy. I don’t think that would change if he had more money to spend.

    - JAMES
  14. 14.

    Mike,
    Do you think there has been a modern team that has made the play-offs without a contract longer than 5-years?

    MW: Five of last year’s eight playoff teams did it without having a player under contract who was signed through more than five of his free agent years.

    - JamieWine
  15. 15.

    The Jays in the early 90′s made trades and free agent acquisitions that put them into a position to win back to back World Series Titles. At the end of last year Anthopoulos stated that he was going to be active in getting a big bat, a top of the line pitcher and get arms for his bullpen. He only managed to cross off 1 of the 3 items he went shopping for.

    The Jays in 92 had 3 all-stars in Carter, Alomar, and Guzman, two of which were acquired through trade. They also acquired two Hall of Famers in Winfield and Molitar, and two possible future Hall of Famers in Morris, and Cone.

    The Jays in 93 had 7 all-stars, only 2 of which they drafted and developed (Hentgen and Olerud). The other five they traded for.

    Why do the Blue Jays insist on saying they will compete and make the playoffs when they fail to acquire the talent necessary to do so?

    MW: I think you’ve failed to recognize that the off-season isn’t the only time period in which a team can make trades. And I’m stunned that you could make such an assertion and not see that the Jays have traded for Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, Yunel Escobar, Brett Lawrie, Kelly Johnson, Colby Rasmus, Rajai Davis and Jason Frasor over the last two years. Otherwise, you make a great point.

    - Disgruntled Fan
  16. 16.

    Gotta call you on this Mike, but someone DID ask about something related to the fan experience. A lady in the audience made a comment to Paul about how the selection for womens t-shirts isn’t up to par, and how they need to have all player names available, not just the cute ones.

    Otherwise I enjoyed reading your comments about the state of the franchise, and I for one am looking forward to seeing where things go from here.

    - Dan
  17. 17.

    michael,
    a heck of a suggestion by our man scott carson in stating that aa and the blue jays perhaps giving some thought to signing up rich harden to a low base high incentive laden contract.
    like the sounds of that alot.
    loads of potential right there.
    that man has indeed got some nasty stuff michael.
    *and hey. who’s that smoking hot blue jay player you got on your twitter page with you btw?
    man oh man. that’s truly awesome.

    MW: That’s Victoria’s Secret angel Doutzen Kroes. But a lot of people tell me it’s time to change the picture.

    - darrell bishop
  18. 18.

    Mike,
    Good read. I watched the sotf live on the Internet and is was nice to see AA elude to some deals that fell through and that he did indeed try for a couple FA’s that ultimately decided against Toronto. Do you think sometime in the first half of the season AA will find a SP and that big bat the jays need ?

    MW: He did allude to those things, for sure, and it’s always nice to get a bit of insider stuff out of him. I don’t see the m making any big deals before the all-star break, it’s tough to do that, but you never know.

    - Paice
  19. 19.

    HEllo Mike

    As much as scouts are raving about Travis D’Arnaud, didn’t JP Arencibia hit as well as D’Arnaud when he was in the minor league – My recollection was that JP was ‘tearing it up’ in the minor system and probably hit better than D’Arnaud. Is it that D’Arnaud is a more complete player (as a catcher) than Arencibia?

    MW: It’s probably a better idea to actually look up the numbers than just to go with your recollections. There are plenty of good websites for that sort of info, the best is baseball-reference.com. You’d see there that d’Arnaud had Arencibia by 116 points of OPS at AA at the same age. D’Arnaud is also a much better defensive catcher, according to the consensus of scouts.

    - francis
  20. 20.

    I don’t expect or regard any of the players Anthopoulos has acquired through trade the last 2 years as future all-stars. In 92 and 93 the Jays were in the business of attaining guys at the top of the game. Today they acquire guys with “high ceilings”, yet no all-star caliber players. The Jays need to get off their wallet like they did in 92-93 in order to make runs at championships. The wool can only be pulled so far and fans like myself will slowly cease to show up to the 5-8 games a year I attend.

    MW: I’m wondering what your scouting background is, and how much research you’ve done about the players that the Blue Jays have acquired in trade the last couple of years. It would also serve you well to remember that those World Series championship teams were built with players acquired through trade like Roberto Alomar, Devon White, and Duane Ward or selected in the Rule 5 draft like Kelly Gruber and Manuel Lee – none of whom were anything but “high-ceiling potential stars” at the time of their acquisition.

    - Disgruntled Fan
  21. 21.

    Great work Mike. I have spoken to you several times on the call in and have been thinking about the following for awhile. It seemed last year that despite Edwin’s reasonable batting average his hitting with runners in scoring position was much below the average. In contrast it seemed that JP took advantage of that situation whenever he could resulting in a significant rbi given his batting average. I don’t think this was just because of his home run output. I can’t find the stats to support this but if it is true would it make sense to not bat Edwin near the top where he is likely to see more men on base and is it even possible to teach someone this skill?

    MW: Hitting with runners in scoring position can’t be taught, because it isn’t an actual, repeatable skill. Those numbers tend to fluctuate wildly year to year, because it’s more happenstance than anything else. And it’s an interesting comparison between Edwin and J.P., because you’d certainly expect your thesis to be true given the difference in RBIs, but it’s not. Arencibia hit .240/.310/.440 with RISP in 2011, while Encarnacion hit .244/.314/.415. Not a big difference at all. Arencibia had two more plate appearances in those situations, but 14 more RBIs.

    - Clark
  22. 22.

    michael,
    so here’s a ponderment…
    looks like sp edwin j’s asking price has come crashing down of late and might accept a 1 yr. deal and the red sox are apparently sniffing it out.
    offering him around $5-6m as the reports indicate but his camp holding out and insisting on 1 yr. for more in the range of $10-11-12m…
    how do you assess this one michael? he’s good enough for the red sox starting rotation perhaps but not good enough for ours?
    and i think your rationale that you have expressed before on this type of situation is maybe a solid one in that the blue jays would much rather give the ball to a younger guy within the organization that might likely pitch as well and has more traction with the team going forward. that makes sense.
    so on that note and as best you can tell does that mean the red sox currently don’t have as many viable, legit options as the blue jays do in the middle to bottom of their rotation and need him more than we do?
    don’t think it’s the money on the blue jays part it seems as they were very much looking like they were more than willing to overpay for cordero etc…
    cause’ to my way of thinking michael, if jackson is indeed not an upgrade on our current younger possibilities and he is for alot of other teams around mlb, we’re in much better shape moving forward than we probably realize….
    just sayin’….

    MW: I think it’s safe to assume the Jackson is an upgrade over a John Lackey or Daisuke Matsuzaka. But so is everyone in the Blue Jays’ rotation.

    - darrell bishop
  23. 23.

    Mike,
    I am currently reading “The Extra 2%” on how the Rays turned their franchise around. There are a lot of similarities between what the Rays did as to what the Jays are doing. If there are fans upset with Jays offseason this year, they should take the time to read it. It will bring a lot of understanding to why the Jays do certain things a certain way. Its proven to work. One of the main points they stress is to believe in the process, and the results will come. You can’t rush, because when you do thats when mistakes are made. So anyone interested in learning a little more how a great front office works should give it a read.

    - Denny
  24. 24.

    As a commenter noted above, and you have mentioned before, Rich Harden is still unsigned. It’s hard to believe a guy with his talent would sign for less than $2 million guaranteed but if the Jays could get him for that much can you put forth an argument why they wouldn’t do that?

    At this point as an injury prone starter you can’t count on him to give you more than 100 innings but of the 50-100 innings he can give you they would be pretty good for around $2 million. He is a pretty low risk-high reward signing.

    MW: I would be careful about throwing figures around, since none of us have any idea what’s going on at the negotiating table. I have always been a proponent of bringing Rich Harden in here and giving him a shot.

    - Scott
  25. 25.

    Mike,
    You twisted my question….so I looked at last years playoffs and only the Rangers didn’t have a player on a contact longer than 5 years. Otherwise each time at least one:
    Cabrera, Miguel
    Rodriguez, Alex
    Sabathia, CC
    Teixeira, Mark
    Longoria, Evan
    Price, David
    Pujols, Albert
    Holliday, Matt
    Utley, Chase
    Upton, Justin

    I don’t see why it matters if a player is under control or not because there is still risk to health and performance…and it still is in direct conflict with a policy of “no contracts longer than 5-years”

    MW: I twisted your question because it’s very important whether or not a player is under control. Locking up years of control doesn’t change the amount of time that a player is with a given team, for one, and for another thing, the whole hub-bub among Blue Jays fandom is about their unwillingness to sign a big-name, big-ticket free agent to a contract longer than five years. A player under control isn’t a free agent. The only player on the list you have provided who was signed to his contract as a free agent and isn’t a Yankee is Holliday.

    - JamieWine
  26. 26.

    michael,
    everything i said above re: jackson with the red sox…
    apparently you can take his name out now and replace it with roy oswalt…
    not sure if your answer stays exactly the same or not in this instance.
    man, things change around here by the minute. tough to keep up i tell you.
    i seriously think i might need to consider quitting my job.
    oh wait… i was already fired.
    sorry. never mind…….

    - darrell bishop
  27. 27.

    Would love to see grass in the dome. I am very excited to hear this is being considered. Why is the dome closed at the end of every game anyways? Are they worried about a break in?
    I am someone who thinks if it isn’t raining the roof should be open no matter what the weather. If fans knew this coming to the game they can dress appropriatley. Baseball is an outdoor game and the dome is a fine outdoor stadium.

    - Kevin
  28. 28.

    Raja Davis had a tough injury riddled year last season but I still see him as having a huge impact on the team this year if we are going to contend.

    - Kevin
  29. 29.

    Why are the basepaths not all dirt? And is there any discussion/plans to open up outfield area where the restaurants used to be for pavillions. Since so many fans are used to standing at hockey rinks, its seems like a natural fit.

    MW: The basepaths aren’t all dirt because of the multi-purposeness of the stadium, though it would definitely look cooler.

    - Dan
  30. 30.

    Hi mike. I have heard your response to the optimistic fan base out there that like to think that the jays can contend this year. you say that alot has to go right in order for us fans to be watching meaningful baseball in september. The starting pitchers are pretty uncertain after Ricky and we need to see some better things at the plate from a bunch of the everyday position players and while the bullpen looks great there will only be one way to know how effective it actually is. I do believe this is true but when I look at the rest of the AL east and I wonder if the yankees have enough starting pitching and how many more seasons Rivera has left. I will be very interested to see how the red sox recover from all that late season drama that went down. And I’m curious how long the rays can compete with their budgetary constraints. Are these things on your mind too? Why do you think these teams will have better seasons than the jays ?

    MW: The Yankees still have a devastating offense and a terrific bullpen, and they added Michael Pineda to the rotation this off-season. As for the Red Sox, late-season drama considered, they’re still mostly the team many believed was one of the best ever assembled at the beginning of last season. I think the balloon is going to pop in T-Bay pretty soon, but that starting pitching is awfully, awfully good.

    - Gabe
  31. 31.

    hi mike,

    top of the the off season to you!

    i did a fine job of maintaining my own opinions of the status and direction of the blue jays, and i’m happy to share with you that i’m really excited about the upcoming championship season.

    i think that this team has the capcity to exceed the overall accomplishments of the 2006 team. i’m not sure if that’s only good enough for a door prize in 2012, but i am confident that it will be fun to watch.

    when do you head down to florida?

    MW: I’ll be down there at the end of the month, filing reports beginning on February 29!

    - chris 25 time caller
  32. 32.

    michael,
    i have to ask you.
    doesn’t all of this continual and seemingly endless banter back and forth, back and forth arguing whether or not this blue jays team is capable of getting to the next step and making the playoffs or winning a championship remind you of all exact same conjecture on the blogs and on twitter back in the mid to late 80′s with this team???
    exactly…..
    and we all know how that turned out in the end i think.
    and so does beeston. been there done that as they say.
    which i believe when it’s all said and will prove out to be quite useful is my guess.
    we’ll see…

    MW: The only thing is that from 1985-1991, while people were taking shots at the Blue Jays for not being able to win the big one, they did win three division titles and finished no further than two games back in any of the other years. They’re not even close to that yet.

    - darrell bishop
  33. 33.

    It will be exciting to see this new bullpen at work. I’m happy they brought back Frasor because I think he improves a lot every year.

    - Hab
  34. 34.

    michael,
    if aa can get me a bonafide starting pitcher that is unconditionally legit enough to fit into our top 3 in the rotation i’m declaring right now that this blue jays team is playoff bound for 2012.
    and i’m willing to bet as much as a kbillion $ on it. BAM!! there i said it.
    a kbillion $ michael.
    maybe even more. depends who the pitcher is i guess…

    - darrell bishop
  35. 35.

    The team is improved, but I think still another year at least until contending unless Anthopoulis pulls another trade or two or the Jays are extremely lucky.

    With regards to the natural turf, I just don’t see how it’s possible with the multiple uses of the stadium.

    MW: I think you’re absolutely right.

    - Tim in Niagara Falls
  36. 36.

    Mike,

    I was not a fan of baseball in 1992 and hence missed out on the glory years of the jays. I learned to love this team in 1999 and have been dreaming of a winner since. I can honestly say that I have never seen the jays more primed for an explosion. The pitching staff is Ripe with potential. The lineup could be downright sick ( in good way). There are so many players that are
    on the cusp at the major league level. I chose to focus on the positive because so many good things are happening. The jays are going to be in a real position of strength if most of these young guys play to their potential as then AA will be really busy. Perennial contenders, yet in a while, I for one can’t wait.

    - corie j
  37. 37.

    michael,
    no doubt one of the very interesting stories to follow in the upcoming season for the blue jays is going to be watching arencibia in his 2nd yr. of full time duty behind the plate and the inevitable and probable progression of d’arnaud forcing his way onto the scene later this yr. and then… what aa and his group decide to do about it.
    nice option to have i suppose but certainly a tough one to determine on nonetheless if true.
    and to a lesser degree perhaps (but maybe not necessarily) watching drabek, hutchison, mcguire, jenkins doing the exact same thing as it relates to the starting rotation of this team.
    and the difficulty being trying to assess if so on both… does this mean they’re actually closer to contending immediately or does it just solidy their patient development process with all their young prospects/players/potential stars and just entrench them even more with this organizational development process?
    easy answer i guess is that it’ll put them in a strong position to move out the others not as wanted or needed and give them the option of acquiring other parts going forward.
    just have to wait and see i guess whether those parts are other high ceiling prospects or players to step in right away and help vault them into the playoffs finally.
    what do you think michael, moves them along quicker or by reloading with a few more even younger guys than they currently have, kind of inadvertently sets them back a ways again?
    which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the big picture but sure might frustrate a few of the impatient ones hanging around following this team these days…

    - darrell bishop
  38. 38.

    Hi Mike,

    As always, I enjoy reading your posts and especially listening to any and all audio clips included. Thanks for all your hard work.

    My question for you is in regards to the All Star Game (my apologies that it isn’t at all related to state of our concession items or the Blue Jays franchise in general).

    I was readind an article on NFL.com about how the Pro Bowl needs to become more intensely played or perhaps scrapped altogether. At the end of the article it was mentioned that the MLB All Star game had similar lackadaisical play prior to it rewarding the winning team with home field advantage in the World Series. (That whole tie fiasco in Milwaukee.)

    My question is this: Is it true that there wasn’t as much intensity in the All Star game leading up to that rule change? I always thought that that the players were having fun, but that they wanted to win basically as much back then as they do now. Let’s be honest here, if there is an All Star representing KC (and there is every year, of course), is he really trying to win that much more so that one of his All Star buddies will get the home field advantage?

    I felt like replying to that article on the basis that the NFL reporter didn’t know what he was talking about in regards to the MLB All Star game, but I decided to ask your opinion first. Maybe the All Star games have become much more competitive since the rule change and I just haven’t noticed?

    Thanks as always Mike!

    Eric C

    MW: I don’t think there’s been a significant change in the intensity of the all-star game since the ridiculous idea of awarding home-field in the World Series to the winner was instituted. The baseball all-star game has always been the purest one, because you can’t not play defense, like in all the other sports. Every pitcher on the mound is trying to get a guy out, every hitter in the box is trying to get on base and every player on defense is trying to make a play. Sure, they’re having run, and nobody has run a guy over in the all-star game in almost 40 years, but no, I don’t think the intensity has risen in the last decade. All-star games were far more intense even in the 80s. Now, even with the change, it seems more to be about making sure everyone gets in than anything else.

    - Eric C
  39. 39.

    michael,
    it’s like being on tmz trying to keep up with aa and the blue jays and all the gossip incessantly spiralling into the air these days isn’t it?
    so much fun. i gotta tell you.
    what’s the latest now?
    manny r. perhaps on the blue jays radar screen along with the o’s and a’s?
    i see that. apparently will be a minor league deal or so i read.
    think he’s suspended for at least a few months to start the yr. if i’m not mistaken..
    gives aa and his posse a little time to assess what they have going on with ee and francisco to that point and maybe a nice option and proven bat that just loves hitting down in the rogers centre…
    yes indeed. a win. win as they say michael.
    we like those…

    - darrell bishop
  40. 40.

    Mike

    I found the whole discussion about “real grass” very odd. I know it is something everyone wants, but to raise the hopes of fans seems odd – especially when we know it is highly unlikley. And this coming on the heels of Beeston suggesting payroll would rise, fuelling a lot of speculation and hope among many fans. Then to have to do an about face and talk about “payroll parameters”. I am surprised at Beeston – seems like he doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut – unlike AA. Do you find it odd, or is it just me?

    MW: It’s not just you, but I don’t think it’s odd. And I think you have the chronology a little messed up. Beeston suggested payroll would rise in combination with revenues, always has, just a lot of people didn’t hear that second part.

    - Dan
  41. 41.

    Hi Mike,

    Do you think that the new CBA draft rules, combined with losing the two draft picks for KJ staying, influenced AA’s decision not to surrender prospects for some of the pitchers on the market?

    MW: Nope, I just think the asking price for those pitchers was too high. Anthopoulos didn’t have a problem surrendering Nestor Molina in a trade.

    - Dwayne
  42. 42.

    Hey Mike,
    Locking up a players year of control allows a team to bargain from a position of power. They offer to buy a players risk in return for price certainty. It is a win-win in many ways but it still means that a team is accepting risk. That being said Cabrera, Pujols and Utley may have signed while under control but the lengthen of those contract must have out lived the period of control?

    But point taken. Texas , Arizona, Tampa and for the most part St. Louis have built without signing long term contracts with huge downside risk.

    But point taken. It is

    - JamieWine
  43. 43.

    If AA hadn’t let things go the way he did the jays wludon’t have got all the attention they did this winter. So in large part the plublicity good or bad was probably played into on their part on purpose. I don’t remember in recent years there being so much jays talk in the dead of winter and the passion burns hot in Canada and passion is a volatile thing. They need to do a much better job managing the message going forward and step in when it is appropriate to slow the hype train. I will say this again as I have posted it a few times this year , no player deserves a decade long contract ever. There is zero players that can garuntee ten years of healthy all-star years so why garuntee to pay them like one?

    - Rus
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