Holding court with Anthopoulos

Alex Anthopoulos made a rare appearance on the road this weekend in Miami. The main purpose of the trip wasn’t to make any major announcements but instead to help show Andrew Tinnish the ropes. Tinnish was recently promoted from director of scouting to assistant general manager where he joins Tony LaCava and Jay Sartori.

Below, you’ll find the full transcript of Anthopoulos’ scrum with the media yesterday. He touches on everything from the current state of affairs in the starting rotation, to explaining Tinnish’s promotion and updates on Draft pick signings. Make sure to check out the main site for an article on the starters along with full details on Drew Hutchison not requiring surgery.

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Alex Anthopoulos:

Working the waiver wire?

“Right now, what’s clearly happened is that we’ve taken everybody from Las Vegas. It’s hard to replace those guys during the season. We’re not in a position to be selective. There’s no question from a trade standpoint we can be but, for example, the Sean O’Sullivan deal was a minor-league deal. We need somebody for New Hampshire or Las Vegas.

“With all these injuries in a short period of time, it’s hard to replace all those innings. It impacts the minors at every level. Everyone starts to move.”

Settled in short term?

“I hope so. If it’s ongoing, it’s not ideal because that means our starters are unable to go deep into games. I think in Milwaukee was tough because starters weren’t going deep and it taxed out bullpen, having to make the changes we made. Until you start getting stability from those starters, it’s going to be the same. Hopefully we can find someone to get hot and stay in the rotation for awhile.”

Chavez No. 4?

“Right now the way we have it lined up is for Chavez to start on Sunday, Alvarez on Monday and Laffey on Tuesday. That’s the way it’s going right now but as we have all seen, things can change. If something happens in a game and we need someone, we have to adjust.”

Brandon Morrow timeline?

“The problem with it is has to completely heal. The tough thing  with a starter is that you can’t really do much until it does heal. You can’t throw or play catch or keep the arm in shape … you have to start all over again. It’s like spring training all over. Until that pain is completely gone. I would expect the pain to be gone in the next few weeks. At that point he could start a throwing program. But, again, that isn’t going to be forced. Things are slow to heal at times.”

Hutchison — is the ball in his court right now with regards to potential surgery?

“We have an update on that. We had our doctors in Florida finally take a look at him. We sent the tests to Dr. Andrews and everything was confirmed that it’s a sprain. He’s on a no-throwing program for four to six weeks. If he’s feeling unbelievably well in four weeks, but it may go to six, and then he could start a throwing program.

“That being said, if it’s six weeks before he throws, then starts up again and get ready, we’re probably looking at September. The good part  about it is that when you’re talking about a UCL (ulnar collateral ligament), you’re usually talking about Tommy John surgery, because you lose a year. In Drew’s case it’s not going to happen. At least we know he’s not going to be out that long, but it is going to be the bulk of ‘12 that he’s gone.

“Drew did a good job in that he said he wanted to be smart about this. He didn’t feel right and you often see guys try to throw through things and then hurt themselves way worse. Thankfully, he let the trainers know sooner rather than later and possibly avoided something a lot worse.”

Will you be getting a 100% Hutch back?

“Everyone has some sort of partial tear. The percentages vary. There are guys that pitch with 60% tears and 40% tears and 20% tears. It comes down to how severe they are and what are the symptoms being experienced by the player. I’ve always been told that you treat the symptoms not the MRI.

“That’s exactly what I asked: will we get 100% of Drew or will we get 90% or 80%? He’ll be the same. It’ll be 100%. Too many people feel strongly about it. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. There can always be a setback. But we think Drew will be fine.”

Could you make a buyers deal rather than a sellers deal?

“I think so. The way the roster is constructed we have, for the most part, control over our players. We have a core in place. Ideally you’d love to make a transaction for a player you’d have beyond 2012 that will allow you to do your best to win in 2012 but also have opportunities beyond that. That being said, we wouldn’t rule out a good player who was only under control for 2012. In a perfect world, I would always prefer to take on a player with more control. It just fits more with what we’re doing. But we aren’t ruling out short-term players as well.”

Other GMs trying to take advantage of your current situation?

“It’s challenging there’s no doubt about it. But I’m sure if you sit with the other 29 GMs and they have their own challenges. Other teams have had their position players go down. At the end of the day you just put your head down and accept the challenge and do what you can.

“We can’t get it fixed overnight. We’re going to continue to try. I don’t know when the next transaction will take place but you have to continue to move forward.”

Time frame for making a deal and have you started expanded your options?

“The timeframe – I don’t know that there’s ever a specific timeframe, I know some people believe July is when we’ll look at it, I personally have never felt that way, if there’s the right deal with the right player you go ahead and jump at it. Expanded the pool? I say yes, there’s no doubt, because we have more opportunities, there are more players down. There are certain players we would have committed to in that rotation either way, a lot of these guys because they’re so young they certainly have options, we’d get someone and option them to the minor-leagues, but there’s no question with these guys being out, it definitely opens up the pool a little bit. There may be some players that we would have looked at but not been as serious about.

McGuire/Jenkins — any reasons behind their struggles in New Hamsphire?

 “They just haven’t thrown well, velocity has been similar, for both guys it’s been command, that’s been the overriding theme and it’s interesting because both guys pitched well in New Hampshire at the end of last year, I saw them both, and they did very well and that’s what is so surprising, to see them go back, and even though they weren’t there the whole year last year, to repeat the level and struggle the way they have. It’s hard to explain, I know the staff is working very hard to get them on track, I’m sure both players would tell you the same thing, but the number one thing is it’s not stuff, it’s command. They’re just not commanding the ball the way they have.”

Thinned out in the rotation by their struggles?

“There’s no question, that’s why you never have enough. Going into spring training we felt like Deck, Jenkins, Litsch and McGowan were going to be options for us, but we felt like Jenkins and Deck, the way they pitched at the end of last year at New Hampshire, would have been options for a callup. How well they would have done or to what success, who knows? They’d definitely thrown well enough to be candidates to come up here and pitch, so really you’re looking at four guys, on average you’re going to need 11 guys to make starts, sometimes it can get up to 13, but we felt like we had that 11 one way or another. But when guys go down, guys don’t have good years, it changes fast. It’s funny, all it does is re-emphasize for me you can never had enough depth.”

Review situation every five days?

 “I think at this point you have to, we just don’t have that many mainstays in the rotation, so really I think it’s start to start. You can argue if Joel Carreno had gone six innings or a little deeper, we probably would have given him a start again. It’s not necessarily fair the players entirely, it’s the position we’re in, we need fresh arms, we don’t want more guys getting hurt, we’ve already taxed the bullpen enough, to protect everybody we have to bring in as many options as we can. Once the rotation can hopefully stabilize a little bit, that will get us back on track.

Lull with the signing of the rest of your Draft picks?

 “We’re getting close on pretty much everybody. Right now … (Chase) DeJong I think we’re going to get close on, I hope we’re going to get him done soon, Stroman, he’s probably the one guy I don’t at this time the way that one’s going to go.”

Enough money lef to make the signings?

 “If everyone is willing to take slot, we’ll have them all signed from the top 10 rounds. If there’s problems or concerns with slot, there’s a good chance we won’t have them all signed.

Kellogg?

“That’s another guy we’d like to get done. I know Andrew’s working on that. Again, that’s just dialogue and trying to see what we’ll have available because we are limited, the one thing we won’t do is lose a draft pick the following year. We have a few players in that mix with guys like Kellogg, that we like. We’ll probably have a certain amount that we can afford and we’ll probably go down the list. First guy we want, we’ll offer it to, if he doesn’t want it, we’ll go to the next guy.”

On signing remaining picks..

“It’s not as much negotiation right now to be honest with you. Unless someone wants to try to negotiate and convince us to lose our draft pick, it’s a non-negotiable item. So, what we have is pretty straight forward. … It’s not a game because everyone can start doing the math.”

On Tinnish…

“When I first got the job, I actually thought about making him an assistant GM right then and there. But knowing all of the changes I wanted to make to the amateur scouting side, the system, the staffing, things like that, we had worked together for awhile, I felt he was a strong evaluator but he also has done so many things in the office. He has done arbitration briefs, he has done negotiations, he has run our pro scouting department before … he has done it all in every capacity. He has done the evaluation, the contracts.

“I remember we were going to a hearing, we were planning on going to a hearing for Pete Walker and Andrew’s the one who put together the brief. He’s unbelievable, as good of an evaluator as he is, he has great administrative skills as well. I think Andrew’s just another guy that brings a baseball element to the office because the two guys that I lean on for evaluations quite a bit are Perry Minasian and Tony LaCava, and they don’t live in Toronto, they’re out scouting, they’re evaluating players, and in the office right now it’s more administrative based. Jay Sartori is more of an administrator obviously, than an evaluator, that’s his background from the commissioner’s office.

“Andrew brings another evaluator into the office with administrative abilities. I found that we lacked that and I found that there were times in the office when I needed a little bit more of an evaluator around a little bit more often.”

Insurance in case LaCava gets courted by another team during the offseason?

“No, we’re always at risk that Tony could leave because he’s sought after. But there’s no question that it can’t hurt from that standpoint but their jobs aren’t the same at all. Tony’s not in the office, he’s an evaluator first and foremost. He oversees the Minor Leagues as well, it’s not his day-to-day job. From that standpoint, Andrew’s going to be a little bit more — I don’t want to say on the frontlines — but he’s going to be in the office every day that I would.”

Back to roster moves… do you have money available to add players between now and the deadline?

“Depends who it is. We’ve added bodies. We’ve added a lot of bodies. It all depends on who it is, it has to make sense. Just like anything else, add a body for the sake of adding a body, I’d have to explain why. But obviously the guys we’ve added, we clearly have needs, depth, and so on. If it’s a big trade and a big transaction for an impact player, especially someone that we control beyond this year, I don’t see there being any problems at all from that standpoint.

“But I don’t think it’s just anybody. It has to be someone that makes sense. I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. That’s the conversation I’d have with Paul and that’s the conversation he has with ownership.”

2 Comments

Obviously the Jays are hitting well and that has really been the only thing keeping them in the games, so lets talk pitching. Romero seems like he is starting to find his old form, but hasn’t been as impressive as in the past. Then you have injuries to 3 and almost 4 of the starters, and our primary closer. Do think there is even a remote possibility that the Jays sign some guys here at the trade deadline like Garza or Hamels? Also, who else is available out there in starters and closers? Not that I don’t have faith in Santos, it’s just that he wasn’t very impressive to start and now he has been gone all year. I’m a big Janssen fan, but we need another closer so we can get Janssen back in his relief role he has been so good at. Your thoughts on all this?

The Jays are certainly in a tight spot. With the team hitting and playing rather good defense, if the starting pitching had gone the way it looked as if it might, they would have been much higher in the standings than they are at the moment. What to do? I hate to say that it just doesn’t look like their year to make a run at it. It would be silly to give up young talent to bring in someone to help them do what? Finish 3rd yet again? Not wise. About the only player they might want to give up at the moment is Kelly Johnson, but what would they get for him? It’s possible they could take a chance on moving Rasmus since Gose seems to have the team’s attention as the CF of the future. Past that, who? My feeling is that Encarnacion needs to be signed long-term now. He is just too valuable to the Jays moving ahead. As I said at the outset, perhaps it’s better just to get through this year, hopefully make a blockbuster trade for a proven starter (or two!) who would be a long-term solution, but deal from a position of strength. Every GM knows that if the Jays make inquiries now, it’s because they’re desperate, and that’s not a good way to start any negotiations.

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