Anthopoulos holding court with the media
On Ryan Goins…
“Defensively, the more you watch him, the more you realize how good he is defensively, just his actions, the way he moves. You know, the bat, that’s something we’re going to watch in spring training. The tough part is, you realize it’s two at-bats a game, three at-bats a game, the competition level varies. I would say, again, the competition is still there. We’re going to value the defense because it’s that good. He has room to do less offensively because the defense is so elite. I don’t use that word lightly. I really think he’s elite and he’s got a chance to win a gold glove there.”
“If you actually look at Goins’ minor league track record in the International League last year and Jonny Diaz’s, their OPS’s are similar. Jonny may walk a little bit more, strike out a little bit less but won’t have any power whereas Goins, there’s a little bit of power there. They’re both good defenders. Getz has swung the bat great. Tolleson, we’ve just gotten a chance to see, to get playing and obviously Kawasaki has had a good camp too.”
“Goins is the front-runner because of the defense that he showed but he still has to earn that job.”
On Drew Hutchison…
“We saw that velocity at the end of his time in 2012 before he got hurt. When I went to the Arizona Fall League, it was so encouraging to see him pitch that way. He really started to come into his own in 2012 before he got hurt so I’m not surprised. I think I said it before, he’s a guy I expected to really impress. He’s off to a great start, he’s definitely opened some eyes, he’s a strong candidate to make the rotation but he’s got to make it. But I love what I see.”
Still working on any trades?
“We do have inventory in the bullpen and we talk always about it daily but we know how quickly that inventory can vanish. Guys get hurt. I think as we get to the last 10 days of camp is when things will ramp up a little bit. Periodic, maybe two conversations on trades but no sense of urgency at all, just more ideas with the understanding with those clubs that hey, let’s just see how camp goes. I’d say the last 10 days of camp or so is when you’re expecting guys to stay healthy and it’ll be interesting, especially with all the guys we have who are out of options.”
Late deals in spring…
“Some good players at times can become available at the end of spring training. The occasional time you can get lucky and get a Brandon Phillips type but for the most part you can get your fourth outfielders, you can fill up a bench and you can get the back end of a bullpen and things like that. I had a club contact me (Tuesday) night of a player they think right now is probably not going to make their club and if we wanted to explore it and talk about it and that’s, I think, the conversations will start to come up a little more now as we start to get toward the end of March.”
Still having an open dialogue with agents for free agents?
“Here and there. Just more touch base and things like that. I don’t know how you qualify dialogue. You get a text, an email, things like that, an occasional phone call but I don’t think we have anything active.”
On whether he’d still do something if the prices drop…
“Sure. I mean, I can’t speak for other clubs but I would think the reason that some of the players are out there is that both parties can’t agree on what the value should be.”
On whether they were in on Johan Santana…
“We went and saw his bullpen last week, I think, and obviously we looked at his file from a medical standpoint, we looked at it in the offseason and he worked out in Fort Myers and we had some guys there to see him. Obviously he’s had a great career and if he comes back he can help a lot of clubs.”
Concerned about Happ?
“You know, his back has been bothering him a little bit. It bothered him after his first start and he got some treatment on it and after this last one it bothered him again. He’s going to get some more treatment. He might just need a few days here and there. He thinks he’s fine. His back is barking a little bit I guess is the best way to put it. If the issues that he has don’t subside we may have to look at it a little bit more but we think he’s going to be fine. I don’t want to make excuses for him but I wouldn’t say he’s been 100-percent but nothing to the point where he doesn’t feel like he can’t take the ball. So I don’t know how to evaluate him right now because the performance hasn’t been what he’s done in the past in his career.”
He’s always struggled to economize pitches…
“The second half of 2012 I thought he pitched great before he hurt his foot and then last year with the lower slot, the last three outings, he showed some promise, especially the last game against the Rays. Velocity is great. He’s up to 93, 94, it’s just command. I just wonder if his back wasn’t bothering him the way it is I think the command would be a lot better. That’s my opinion. He hasn’t said it, he hasn’t made any excuses, I just don’t think we’re seeing him at 100-percent even though he’ll tell you up and down he can get through it. We’ll watch him, we’ll evaluate it. Right now I don’t think he’s on schedule to miss any time. Maybe he gets moved back a day or two but from what I understand it would be no more than two or three days that he would be moved back, if that happens.”
Was Happ examined for those back issues?
“It doesn’t seem like there’s anything structurally wrong and he’s got some inflammation and things like that. He does have some things going on there but it doesn’t seem that it’s to the point that it’s so serious that he needs to be shut down at this point.”
On Marcus Stroman…
“(Thursday) is a big day for him. Be honest. The results matter but at certain times you’re looking at stuff. That’s why you have more than one outing. It was promising overall because his stuff looked good, he got out of some jams, he looked good. Sometimes, we say someone pitched better than their line and it’s the other way around, the line looks great and there were line drives all over the place and it was a scoreless inning but you know that wasn’t going to hold up. Again, it’s a limited, limited look but Marcus, I think, I expect him to continue to impress throughout spring and I think he’ll just get better.”
Do you have one rotation spot or two up for grabs?
“There could be two. I think we’re going to take the best team north. Especially right now, we have J.A. and the back, the performance, things like that, we have to get him on track, stay healthy. Obviously R.A., Mark and Brandon. Again, we expect J.A. to be in the rotation but at the same time the back’s flared up on him twice. I just don’t know. Look, if guys perform well and they force our hand, we’ll take the best team.”
How many guys are being considered?
“It’s tough because I don’t want to overweigh, especially the guys that are a little more established, the early spring looks. I do weigh the young kids, the spring look, just because they know what the spring means and they haven’t been up here really and haven’t had long careers of success and things like that. Based on past career success, I would say yes but that could change too from now till the end of camp. You try to weigh all of it. You do weigh spring training to an extent. You don’t want to overweight it. It’s as much, how does the ball look coming out of their hand, how does their stuff look, all those types of things.”
How important for Stroman…
“Yes and the following start too. I’m saying it more tongue-in-cheek. It’s not like the decision gets made (today) but I think every outing for him is important.”
“He has a chance. I don’t know what the chances are, the percentages, but there’s a reason he’s getting stretched out, there’s a reason we’re giving him the innings. We want to take a look. If he can impress and really come on he’s going to make it hard on us, which is what we want.”
“He’s just very calm and composed and I haven’t seen anybody chew gum on the mound while in the middle of throwing a pitch. I mean, I don’t think that’s being arrogant or cocky. I just think he’s very composed, he’s very athletic, I think he does a lot of things to help himself, whether it’s holding runners, things like that. He’s worked on his changeup. He’s still young, he’s still inexperienced and there’s still going to be a learning curve there, one way or the other. There’s a reason he was a consensus first round talent, where he went that was a debate but he’s always had stuff. Team USA, success at a D1 school, success in the minors, he’s had success everywhere he’s been despite how people doubt him because of his size.”
“The stuff that comes out of his arm is great. I know we’ve talked about the Sonny Gray comparisons and I think they’re fair. I think Marcus is ready to be up here, stuff-wise I mean can he work on his changeup? Probably a little bit more, sure, but for the most part he’s ready to be up here. Do we have a spot? Is he performing to the level? Is he performing better than some of the other options? Those are all things we’re going to have to make a decision.”
Does best option on the team supercede another year before eligibility of free agency?
“No doubt about it, the best team. Where it becomes a little more interesting, if you have multiple players, if it’s close and someone has options and someone’s out of options, you keep the depth. If it’s not close then you take the best players. That’s always the way it’s been. That’s why those players that have options left have to be that much better than the guys they’re competing against and I’ve told the players that to their faces. But those guys that are out of options, if they’re not performing and guys are clearly an upgrade over them and will make a big difference for them we’ll go with the best team.”
Did you do less one-on-one stuff with players before the start of camp?
“I think so, just because we had had so much dialogue with some of these guys at the end of last year, offseason, things like that, we didn’t need to rehash. I think everybody knew where they stood. A lot of the minor league free agents, it was pretty explicit, everybody knew what their opportunity was, they knew what the outfield was, they knew who was on a guaranteed contract, they knew that Brett Lawrie was the starting third baseman and Jose Reyes is at short and what the openings are.”
What about Kyle Drabek…
“Obviously he’s struggled the last two outings. I thought he was better, the Fort Myers outing than he was in Philly. But, again, it’s command with him but I did think he looked better. He’s throwing his curveball for strikes, he threw some good two-seamers. The stuff was better. The game in Philly just wasn’t sharp. I’ll be curious to see, the next time out, how he looks. I think he’d tell you, too, he’s just not as sharp as he has been in the past or he can be so he’s got some work to do.”
Innings limits this year on Hutchison or Stroman?
“Someone said Marcus threw 126 innings and 25 in the Fall League, well he threw more than that because he was being stretched out as a starter last year in extended and no one has those innings. The year before he was around 160 or something. He has no restrictions at all. He was a pretty high number last year.”
“Drew, the same way. I think Drew, I think I’ve said this before, reminds me a lot of a similar scenario with Shaun Marcum. Marcum was more than a year removed from Tommy John. He had it in August the year before, didn’t come up in September on the one year anniversary date, came into spring training, pitched great, was our opening day starter and had a three and a half ERA and pitched 195 innings, I think. Drew’s got no restrictions. I think it would be the same type of thing. I could see him, if he makes this team, going wire to wire.”
Eight-man bullpen or four-man bench?
“Not sure yet. All depends how guys pitch. With all the guys who are out of options you might start with eight but, again, guys need to perform as well. It could go both ways and a week from now that will probably change. It changes fast and maybe some trades open up as well. We have the option to do both.”
Any pleasant surprises at camp?
“Stilson. He’s been on the radar, he’s a third round pick, he’s one of our better relief prospects, we like him a lot. I think he’s had a good camp so far. Neil Wagner’s been up and has looked good as well.”
“Chad Jenkins actually has pitched great. His velocity is up. Chad actually definitely looks like he’s a cut above where he was a year ago at this time.”
“I think Sierra has swung the bat well. I’ve seen him make those throws before so I’m not surprised there.”
“Obviously a guy that can play centerfield. He’s got some speed as well, right-handed bat which is always nice to have just because, especially, he can play all three outfield spots. There’s a reason we put him on the 40, we were worried that a team could Rule 5 him and because of his ability to be carried as a fourth or fifth outfielder, just the defense alone it allows a team to carry him for the year and stash him. He made some strides in the Arizona Fall League and he’s just someone that developmentally he’s been a little slow. He was a high draft pick and it’s taken some time but he’s starting to slowly come into his own and emerge so it’ll be really interesting to see what type of year he has this year. We expect him to kind of take the next step from an offensive standpoint.”
“We have a guy in our office, Joe Sheehan, that really wanted to sign him and he’s been talking about him for years. Him and Andrew Tinnish did the minor league signs and they finally got him. He’s had a nice camp and he’s always performed. He’s obviously had times at the big league level, never been able to seem to stick or get enough of an extended look but has power, great on-base percentage, is a little bit older but always seems to have that success. On the one hand, you hope no one gets hurt that he gets an opportunity. On the other, you’d be curious if we could give him an extended look how he would do.”
“In the past he’s always been a guy who throws a lot of strikes. We thought he ran into some bad luck last year. It’s not great velocity, the velocity is 89-91, just a ton of strikes and just comes in and competes, has options which you can never have enough depth there. Kind of the same thing we did with Todd Redmond last year, a guy that’s had great success throwing strikes, let’s take a shot at him.”
“Still early. We’re obviously giving Kratz the reps just because we know Josh can do it. I mean, Josh didn’t catch R.A. all last spring and when he got called up he didn’t skip a beat. Josh has got almost 800 innings with R.A. back there so we know he’s not going to flinch. The biggest thing we want to see from Josh is just being able to swing the bat the way he did with the Mets earlier in his career.”
“With Erik, we think there’s upside to the bat. He’s got power. It’s how can he handle R.A.? The only way to find out is to see him being in games. Just need to continue to watch. It’s something we haven’t made a determination on but we’ll just continue to watch it.”
Kratz and the knuckleball…
“I think he’s been fine. I think he’s made strides but like anything, the more you do it the better you’ll probably get.”
Will Dickey have input?
“I don’t know that we’re going to need any of that. I think it’s going to kind of speak for itself. We know that Josh has done a great job with him. The flip side of it is being able to catch R.A. and do a good job with him is important, being able to do some other things is important as well. We’ll continue to watch Erik and if we think we’re going to get that much more out of Josh than we’ll go with him.”
“It’s night and day, I think, from what we saw last year. It makes sense. The doctors told us they were pretty confident that we would see a changed guy just because they were surprised he was even playing with what he had going on. It made sense that his legs were weak and he had a hard time getting around. He’s certainly moving the way we expect, I expect to see a lot more extra base hits and I think we’re going the player we expected to see last year.”
Lawrie’s offensive changes…
“Good to see. You still think, for me, I always think of defense first. Just the play he made against the Twins was outstanding. He really is starting to slowly mature. We really do forget how young he is. Just even the more you talk to him and the more you’re around him, I know he started going to Encarnacion a lot at the end of last year just to talk about hitting and approach and he’s in there today having lunch today with him and Esmil Rogers and they were talking. I think DeRosa, obviously I know a lot’s been made of that, I think DeRosa was a great starting point to get him going and calm himself a little bit in the box and he’s carried over those changes. That’s part of his maturity as well. Would love to see him take a step from an offensive standpoint but would be happy if he gave us what he gave us last year with the great glove.”