By: Dan Grant
Major League Baseball’s ‘silly season’ is fully underway. The winter meetings between baseball’s general managers are in full swing, some of the first major free agent dominoes have fallen and plenty of teams have plenty of needs. Our resident intrepid reporter/tortured Blue Jays fan Dan Grant wanted to get a better feel for how things were progressing for our hometown Blue Birds. So, he put in a request to interview Toronto Blue Jays point man Alex Anthopoulos.
His request was summarily denied.
This is the interview he made up instead.
Dan: Hey Alex, thanks for being here.
AA: My pleasure Dave, always got time for the little guy.
Dan: It’s Dan actually and I have to say, it’s been a long time since anyone called me a little guy! [Editor’s note: Dan is quite a large human]
AA: Hah, well I didn’t mean like that! So what can I do for you Derek?
Dan: Dan. And I just wanted to ask you a few things about your plans this off-season. I know you’re pretty cagey normally-
AA: I do like to keep things close to the vest!
Dan: – but I thought maybe with a wink and a nod, you might be able to give us a little insight into what you’re thinking these days.
AA: I can’t promise anything, but fire away!
Dan: OK, obviously you’ve made one pretty big move already, non-tendering JP Arencibia, your former top prospect and starting catcher.
AA: Yeah, that was a tough one.
Dan: I can only imagine, I mean you’ve known the kid for years and he seemed like his heart was mostly in the right-
AA: No, no, I’m just screwing with you! It wasn’t hard at all. The guy hit .193 last year! He had a wet noodle for an arm! Sometimes it looked like he thought pitches in the dirt were hand grenades, only he was the a-hole who got out of the way instead of taking one for his buddies! Once we brought in Dioner Navarro, who can, you know, actually play the position, things were pretty easy.
Dan: I have to say Alex, you’re being extremely candid!
AA: Well Darryl, that’s because this is entirely made up! I’ll say whatever you want! As long as you fake quote me warmly and accurately. I hate doing these things because you guys just say whatever you want at the end anyway.
Dan: I’ll do my best! Also, anything? Really? Why do you keep getting my name wrong then?
AA: I don’t know, it’s super weird! Also, maybe not anything. Tell me, can we go off the record for a minute?
Dan: I don’t see why not.
AA: I mean, on the record, I always have to say that I believe in the talent our team has, but honestly, it’s been tough sledding.
Dan: Yeah, I mean you’re not a dumb guy. You know what people have been saying: A lot of the concerns about the starting rotation last season turned out to be founded. R.A. Dickey morphed back into more of a third starter than an ace, Mark Buehrle gave you exactly what his stats predicted, only it turns out that’s more of a fourth starter than a second or a third. Ricky Romero didn’t figure things out, Brandon Morrow got hurt again and a rash of injuries killed the rest of the staff.
AA: More than any of that, Josh Johnson was a real pant load last year. A 6’7” waste of space. He was the reason we made that whole Florida trade in the first place, did you know that? I was trying to land him and somewhere along the way, Jeffrey Loria remembered he was Satan and decided to fist the good people of Florida! I have to say, it felt like a real win for me at the time.
Dan: You still landed arguably the top shortstop in baseball in Jose Reyes. It’ll be nice if he and Brett Lawrie can play a full season together. That’s elite defense.
AA: You’re preaching to the choir sister!
Dan: So anyway, obviously the major issue is the starting rotation. Your Jays were actually solid on offense last year, despite big injuries to Lawrie, Reyes, Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus at various points – you finished at, or above the American League average in every major offensive category.
AA: Yeah! We like the offense. We want Lawrie to progress obviously, we need a repeat of what Edwin Encarnacion and Rasmus gave us last year and we’d love it if Jose could stay on the field, but we really do like our potential on that end.
Dan: But the rotation-
AA: Is the big question mark, yes.
Dan: There’s been reports that you’re saying you might not acquire a starter before the season starts and might just go into camp with in-house options?
AA: Well, yeah I said that-
Dan: Are you out of your fu-
AA:–but that’s what you have to say! What am I supposed to say to our young guys? ‘Hey boys, we really think you’re a pile of hot garbage and unproven injury risks, so we’re going to get some 33 year old dude in here to take your spot. Enjoy Buffalo!’
Dan: I guess I see your point.
AA: You better, man! You have to give these kids at least a chance! And some hope!
Dan: So tell me about the kids then, what are we looking at?
AA: We saw a lot of solid things from Drew Hutchison before he went down for Tommy John surgery back in 2012. He came back for Arizona Fall League this year and looked fantastic. Marcus Stroman, our top pick from a couple years back, has been stretched out into a starter and he absolutely dominated the Fall League and had a pretty fantastic year at Double A last year too. We like him a lot.
Dan: Is that it?
AA: Those are the two main guys yeah. Kyle Drabek is in the mix if he can get himself in shape and obviously we like how Todd Richmond pitched at the end of last year, so he’ll have a shot, along with J.A. Happ. He might be a year away, but we obviously think Aaron Sanchez is a future big leaguer, so he’ll have a shot as well
Dan: See that’s the thing, you keep saying that, ‘a shot’. A shot at what, exactly? How is this rotation shaking out?
AA: Obviously Morrow, Buehrle and Dickey are the mainstays. So these guys would be fighting it out for the other spots. Ricky will get a chance too, of course. So that’s three spots taken, with Romero, Hutchison, Stroman, Happ, Richmond, Sanchez and maybe even Dustin McGowan fighting it out for those last two turns in the rotation.
Dan: I have to say, while I like the idea of those guys fighting it out for a fifth starter role – I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear McGowan’s name, much as I’ve always liked him – that can’t be it. That’s just not going to get it done, not in the AL East.
AA: We’re still off the record right?
Dan: I can’t lie, I don’t know what the means and I’m going to publish every word you’ve said.
AA: Goddammit! I should never have agreed to this fake interview in the first place! Well, no going back now. Of course we want to add pitching! I would have loved to throw 100 million bucks at every friggin’ starter on the market, but we’re not the Dodgers or the Yankees! We traded our major league prospects last off-season and I can’t magically conjure up more! I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it-
Dan: -the best way for the Jays to add is through a trade. (sighs)
AA: It is! Why would you want to pay Ervin Santana 100 million over five years when you can trade for a fireballing nutjob like Jeff Samardzija, who’s getting paid way less? I don’t see why people can’t just let me make moves. I turned Mark Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel into Colby Rasmus for the love of Pete!
Dan: It’s just that we keep hearing rumours that you’re ‘in’ on a player, like Samardzija for example, and then you make cryptic comments that lead us to believe you’re just kicking the tires, since you’ve been portrayed as that annoying guy in everyone’s fantasy sports league that makes trade offers every 30 seconds.
AA: So what? It’s my personality. People used to love me! Remember all the ninja stuff? What happened?
Dan: It used to be endearing, but now it’s getting a little old, I guess.
AA: Old? I’ve been around for like three years! I’ve made a major move before, during or after every single one of them!
Dan: I guess that’s true.
AA: You’re effing right it is! Look, all I’m asking is that people have a little faith. Remember how excited everyone was before last season? Well guess what, every wrong thing happened last season that could. We had legendarily bad luck. Every player that could regress, regressed. Our stars got injured and our young talent stalled. Melky Cabrera had a spinal tumour! When does that happen?! The Red Sox won the World Series last year, after finishing dead last in 2012. They made a few signings that didn’t seem like much, they made a tweak here or there, they stayed the course and they improved.
Would I have loved to land Robinson Cano? Sure. But ten year contracts are a disaster. Paying 20 plus million a season to Jacoby Ellsbury might be OK for two or three years, but we’ve seen, empirically and with our own eyes, that paying guys into their mid to late 30s is a bad move! Did you see Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton last season? Does nobody remember Kevin Brown? How about a little closer to home and good old Vernon Wells? The only guy who has lived up to a 135 million plus contract is Jeter, and he’s a freak of nature, who signed it when he was in his prime.
Dan: OK, OK, you sold me! I’ll give you a chance. Just do your thing man.
AA: Good! Fine. OK then.
Dan: Just one last thing.
AA: Sure, go ahead Duncan.
Dan: Are you trading Jose Bautista?
AA: Do you know another All-Star power hitter that might lead MLB in bombs next year and only makes 14 million?
Dan: I do not.
AA: That’s your answer. Remember the part I said about quoting me accurately. I’ve had enough of this rumour mill bullshit.
Dan: Thanks for your time, Alex!
Reynolds: (enters Same Page headquarters, sees Dan chatting away on the couch to… nobody): Dan, who are you talking to?
Dan: Uh… was just on my Bluetooth [Editor’s Note: Dan does not own a Bluetooth]. Got an interview with Anthopoulos!
Reynolds: No way! That’ll be great for the site! What’s he like?
Dan: Kind of a windbag actually. Really full of himself.
Reynolds: Aw, that’s too bad. Dagonas will be so disappointed.
Dan: It’s OK. I think he’s going to trade Bautista though!
Reynolds: No way!