Bound for the West Coast

I’m going to have to make this one short because I need to head home, do some laundry and pack for the Blue Jays’ upcoming seven game West Coast road trip. This trip could also be called a homecoming of sorts for Langley, British Columbia, native Brett Lawrie.

The 21-year-old will have lots of friends and family in attendance for the three-game set. It’s a short drive for them to beautiful Seattle and one I’m sure Brett made many times as a kid. Lawrie returned to a circus-like atmosphere in Toronto when he played here for the first time and I expect there will be similar conditions in Seattle with many members of the B.C. press making the trip.

Most of today’s pre-game talk surrounded on Monday night’s deadline to sign players from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Toronto’s top pick, Tyler Beede, remains unsigned and it’s still unclear whether the two sides will be able to make enough progress to get something done. You can find an article outlining the full story on the main site alongside today’s notebook that also has items on Aaron Hill’s woes at the plate and an injury update for pitching prospect Deck McGuire. There’s also an injury update on Rajai Davis, who has a torn left hamstring.

In the meantime here are some of today’s leftovers and don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB :

Alex Anthopoulos:

What can you say about current state of the negotiations…

“Can’t say anything. It’s the same as always, we don’t discuss any negotiations. I think every year it seems to play out the same way.”

Without getting into specifics are you optimistic or pessimistic about getting guys signed…

“You’re always hopeful I guess. I’m more realistic about the process that you can only do so much. You make an offer you feel is fair, if it’s good enough, great, would be thrilled to have the players. If it’s not good enough, for the top three rounds we’ll get the picks back the following year and we’ll move on.

“We will never be in a position where we have to sign a player because the minute you start to think that way, if we said we have to then, we’d be paying these guys a lot more money because then we’d be able to guarantee what they’re ultimately going to be.”

“As much as I think we do a good job, we’re going to be wrong on a lot of these picks, and we’re going to be wrong on the guys last year. You do your best and hopefully you have strength in numbers but I’m sure we’ll look back five, six years from now, Adam Lind shouldn’t have gone in the third round but he did and guys we took in the first round shouldn’t have gone in the first.”

If you’re unable to get these guys signed will you regret being so aggressive in the Draft…

“It doesn’t change a thing. We didn’t sign James Paxton, Jake Eliopoulos and Jake Barrett — three players in the top three rounds (in 2009) — and I think the organization is fine today as a result of it.

“We drafted them to sign them but we didn’t draft them to sign them at any cost. If 2011 would be our final draft of all-time, then fine, it doesn’t matter. But every draft and every signing impacts the following year’s signing. If you are wreckless and irresponsible in ’11 then I’ll hear about it in ’12. “

“When you start doing the math, if you pay a player ‘x’ today that’s beyond his value, it will actually cost you significantly  more dollars down the road and that’s why we have policy in place — whether having club options or no no-trade clauses, or no suites on the road. We have policies and structures in place, we stick within those parameters and if we can’t reach those parameters we turn the page and hopefully draft players the following year.”

Were you upset Beede made public comments about the negotiations…

“No because he’s not our player. We have his rights to negotiate with him if he was under contract then I’d have my thoughts on that. But I respect the player, I respect the family, they have a decision to make, it’s their life, that type of thing. I wouldn’t have an opinion on that from a media standpoint because he’s not our player.”

On Aaron Hill…

“If he was 38 years old and at the end of of his career that would be one thing. But (the talent) still is in there and he’s flashed it at times, it just hasn’t come out on a regular basis. I would not rule it out, people thought Edwin Encarnacion wasn’t going to come back last year and then he did because he got hot at the end.

“We’re always open minded for Aaron still being a long-term part of this team.”

John Farrell:

On the high number of passed balls his club has this year…

“That has to get better, without a doubt. We don’t handle a knuckleballer that might contribute to some of those pitches that can go unexpected directions. We have to improve in that area.

“There are areas that yes, we are still in need of growth and improvement, that’s one of them. As we’ve gone through the season I think we’ve done a better job of overall strike throwing, we’ve cut down the number of walks we’ve issued but I still think we have areas, we’re not a complete team, we’re not a perfect team but that is an area that is continually getting maintenance work and will continue to do so. “

On Lawrie going to the West Coast and playing near his hometown….

“There’s going to be firsts for every young player and the reminder will be to keep intact that his routine is. That it’s okay to say no and that his routine doesn’t get interrupted and his daily work and preparation is the priority. There will be time for all the other obligations and that will just be a reminder.

“This is someone, in the short time we’ve been around him in Spring Training or this season, there’s nothing more important to him than how he competes between the lines. But I think every player could use some reminders just to know there could be some distractions along the way and that’s all part of starting a big league career.

“I think any time you go back to play close to your hometown there’s going to be a lot of people coming out of the woodwork that you hadn’t heard from in probably 5-10 years and that’s why it’s important to know that it’s okay to say no. Brett’s a smart kid and he’ll handle this fine.”

On September callups…

“Those are conversations that have yet to be had. And how we look to do that, to add someone, to begin to cut innings back on individuals, we’ll get to that. “

On going back to Seattle for the first time since April…

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes. We’ve got a revamped bullpen, we’ve got a number of changes on the everyday roster — the position players — with changes through the trade deadline. Not to speak specifically about one area or the other but this is a different group now than it was at the start of the season.”

Brett Lawrie after his game-tying double on Sunday:

“I’m not really going out there to try to do too much. Not to play for myself, I’m going out there to play for these guys. I know if I go out there and do everything  that I do every single day when I play the game then I’m going to be alright.

“If I go out there and play the game the right away, play for these guys, play for the fans and don’t worry about the numbers that stuff is going to come back my way eventually.”

On the at-bat versus Walden…

“He’s a fastball pitcher. He throws upper-90s to 100 mph so you have to think, okay what’s his go to pitch, what’s he about to throw. When you get yourself into a count where you’re looking to drive something, you know he’s going to come heater so you just get your foot down and try to see the ball as long as you can and try to drive it.

Do you thrive on the spotlight…

“I’m sure every guy wants to be that guy in here. I was just fortunate enough that it was my turn. I’m not going to come up in every situation like that and I was lucky enough to help the team out and that’s why I was so fired up.”

Stolen bases part of your game…

“It can be for sure. I can steal a couple of bags you just have to get yourself in the right part of the game, the right opportunity, and try to get a good read off a pitcher and just go.”

1 Comment

The west coast has been a graveyard for the Blue Jays for more than a decade. Do you think the great wins on the weekend over the Angels and the pitching matchups in the next seven games versus Seattle and Oakland can yield five wins for the Jays?

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