State of the franchise with Anthopoulos

Here’s the full transcript of today’s media scrum with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos:

Any thought of moving Lawrie to 2B on a full-time basis to open a spot in the lineup for Juan Francisco?
“He’s a third baseman. We did talk, just the fact of just interleague. Francisco’s done well for us in a short period and it’s just like Gibby talked about, wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s the one who brought it up to me and I said, hey, it made sense, want to keep his bat in the lineup.”

“There hasn’t been any talk of full time like that at all. No, it’s strictly for right now. We know he can do it, I know he had a two or a three -game stint last year but Brett’s athletic enough you could put him anywhere on the field, I really believe that. I do believe that if you gave him enough time at any position and you gave him enough reps he could be a gold glove defender anywhere.”

“When we first got him and I saw him take ground balls at third base for the first time at Rogers Centre, it wasn’t pretty. To see what he’s become today is incredible and I just give him all the credit in the world and obviously all the guys who’ve worked with him.”

On keeping Francisco…
“We’d like to keep Juan. He’s playing well and ideally you want to be able to hang on to him. I know Gibby is fond of him and rightfully so. He’s played well. Edwin Encarnacion was a big help in signing him. I think he really encouraged him to sign with us.”

“Edwin had known him from their days with the Reds and I talked to Edwin about him and he said he was going to talk to him and put in a good word about the organization and we’re glad he was able to do it.”

Lind’s schedule…
“Right now Adam will play, the plan is to play nine innings of first base tomorrow in a Florida State League game. I’ll talk to Gibby about it but hopefully we would look at potentially activating him on Thursday. I haven’t talked to Gibby about it but that would be one of the thoughts I have.”

More on Francisco’s bat/Lawrie 2B…
“That’s up to Gibby to decide in terms of keeping Juan’s bat in the lineup. It’s been good. The one thing is obviously, again, Brett, it’s gold glove defence at third. Again, that’s where he’s most comfortable and so on. We haven’t talked about that. Just being able to keep Juan, it’s a left-handed bat, I know his platoon splits haven’t necessarily been great but just having him there for depth. When guys go down, obviously Brett is going to have to miss a few days here. Juan can step in and play third. Adam has to miss time,
Juan can step in and DH or play first. It’s a nice guy to have around even if he’s on the bench.”

Reaction to bullpen implosions…
“I was out seeing guys for the draft. I actually thought about, after we blew those games, obviously it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday, which is important draft time, especially as we get toward the end of playing time for these guys. I thought about scratching the game I had to be at on Saturday after the Friday and I had another game I had to be at on Sunday and I was thinking about jumping in. At the other time, you don’t want to overreact and all of a sudden you blow some games and the GM’s showing up and everyone’s trying to
make more of it.”

“It’s like a fire burning. When you’re here you feel closer to it. When you’re home or you’re traveling you’re not as close but it’s still really hard. I was traveling in a car back to the hotel, we had a long drive, and I was following the game on my phone. I mean it’s hard. It was hard but nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.”

“We know we have a talented ‘pen. We know we have a good ‘pen. It’s surprising because you just don’t expect all of them to struggle at the same time. But they’ll get back on track and it’s just hard to go through it when you are.”

Janssen’s progress…
“It’s going to be soon. He’s off today, pitch tomorrow. We’ll see how he feels. We’ve tentatively talked about having him pitch tomorrow, then off, off, then maybe go back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. If he feels good, we could bring him back sooner. It all depends. We want to make sure he’s strong, totally healthy, feels good and is sharp with his command. We don’t have a set timeframe but I think he’s no more than a week away.”

How serious is the forearm strain for Wagner…
“They could have just played short for three days but to put him on the seven-day DL is not the worst thing in the world. It’s not serious and we probably could have gotten away with sitting him down four or five days.They could have played short for those days but they are really strapped in the pen and they need the arm, so to give him a week is not a big deal.”

Configuration of the bullpen… too many long relievers. Does Janssen help solve that?
“I think it helps. It slots everybody down accordingly. The other component, as we all know is that the deeper the starters go, that’s going to save the bullpen as well. The multi-innings guys are pretty important, especially if your starters are not going deep. We have Janssen coming back, and we’ll see what Stroman does for us,. We view him as a starter but we also believe he can be an outstanding reliever. It’s not the worst way to break him in. At any time, it’s very easy to stretch him out and get him ready to start. There’s a ton of guys who broke in out of the pen. You don’t see it as often now but it used to be done all the time. He’s not unfamiliar to it. He’s just a good arm that was performing well and can give our pen a little boost.​”

Stroman 6th starter if anyone goes down…
“I don’t know. Gibby would make that determination. Certainly he would be in the conversation with the way he performed but Todd Redmond did a good job for us last year in that role, Esmil Rogers did a solid job for us last year he could be an option, Sean Nolin down there is performing really well so he could be an option as well. I think it all depends, what’s the configuration of the ‘pen at the time, what’s the performance, do we need someone. If someone’s already stretched out do you call them up and keep the ‘pen if it’s
rolling as a strength so we’re not really locked into anybody right now.”

Happ/McGowan being monitored on a start-by-start basis?
“I don’t think so. I know from a media standpoint, especially with McGowan, I never understood the whole McGowan watch. I kept hearing every start is for his job, I don’t know that we’ve ever said it. It’s been three starts in a row, every start is for his job, I just don’t know that ever came from the organization. Those guys are going to get an opportunity, just like anything, subject to change for anybody, whether it’s a position player, reliever or starter. We want to give McGowan a look and see how he does. Obviously he’s
had a nice run here the last two. Happ just got in there so it’s too early to tell there.”

“I guess I’m surprised that no one is well over .500. I think the talent in this division is outstanding so I guess I’m a little surprised no one is six, seven games over .500. But from a parity standpoint, not at all. Up and down, there’s no team you look at from a talent standpoint and say they don’t have a chance to be good. Certainly people project where you’re going to finish in the standings but I don’t think anyone would say, all of those teams, they’d be surprised if anyone of the five have good years because the talent is there.”

Morrow update…
“I think when they talked to us, they figured and guys told us, around the All-Star Break is when we can expect him back. So it was 8-to-10 weeks, whatever it was. They said it’s a very rare injury, hard to say what the cause is. He said he felt a pop on the second-to-last pitch and we expect him to come back, we expect him to recover. He wasn’t necessarily rolling but I thought he looked great against the Indians that game. But Brandon has the stuff to get on a streak at any time and even in that last game, I followed it obviously, it didn’t seem like his slider was there and command but I think Brandon at any point can get hot and when he comes back he’ll be a big add for us.

Surgery for Morrow…
“From what I was told that wasn’t going to be needed. If something changes down the road, but from what I was told at the time, surgery was not required.”

Seems to be a new rumor about Jeff Samardzija coming out of Chicago almost every week. I know you can’t specifically comment on another team’s player but can you respond in general terms?
“I can say this, with respect to weekly reports, I haven’t read them or seen them, but whatever they are, I guess I can say this, I have not had any conversations with anybody about active trade talks. If that ends up shooting down reports like we do every so often … no, I have not engaged in dialogues, exchange of names, nothing. It’s so rare that teams engage in trade conversations so early. You might get started in June, unless someone is out of options of DFA’d. I can’t talk specifically about other players on other teams but generally speaking I doubt anyone’s really engaged in trade talks.”

Any untouchable prospects?
“No. … What if you could get a league MVP?”

But you’d have to be blown away?
“It depends what everyone’s definition of blown away is. I think you value everything on what’s the contractual status, what’s the
control, how much do you value your own players, where’s the club at, short term, long term, all that stuff. Just like anything there are a lot of players you are reluctant to move and that would be reflected in the price to really push those players. But I just don’t know that you’re ever in a position where players are untradeable. I think sometimes the value you place on them makes them almost untradeable, because no one will pay you the ask. But I don’t look at it that way that under no circumstances you hang up the
phone. We’re always open honestly to what everyone has to say, but again, we’d like to keep our young players like every club would.”

Natural inclinations at times that must win to mortgage future?
“I think we proved that over the winter. There were many opportunities to move … I think anybody that was out there for trade, we had the assets to get those players. We just elected to not do it because we just thought it was going to hurt the long term too significantly.”

Gose a possibility to come back as a 4th outfielder?
“Sure, because of what he brings, can play all three, gold-glove calibre centre field, the arm strength he brings.”

But more important to play every day?
“Ideally with all these guys. We’ve talked about a guy like Pillar being up here. … he’s actually playing really well. If it’s going to be a part-time role and short-term, are you better off not disrupting a player if they’re playing every day and they’re in a groove, especially if it’s going to be two or three days, like we knew with Anthony it was probably going to be short term. Can Anthony find himself back here? Sure. He brings a lot of things we don’t have. The ability to play all three, with great arm strength, steal a base, he does a lot of things for us. But ideally he would play every day. And ideally for us we’d prefer to have a right-handed bat. But again, we haven’t been afraid to call him up and when he’s been up here he’s done a lot of great things.”

Stilson – 3 innings – by design or pitch count low?
“Yeah, it was low, he was throwing strikes. Yeah, it was just good. He really had a rough start and it brought his ERA down and now he’s getting into a groove. Hopefully he gets on a good tear here. He’s obviously one of our highly touted guys pitching out the pen. Really, to see him, Rasmussen have a good outing … to see some of those guys really step up out of the pen, it’s big, especially with what we’ve gone through in our bullpen, these guys can both get opportunities.”

What makes Rasmus so hot and cold?
“I think there’s swing-and-miss to his game. With power comes strikeouts and normally those are streaky-type guys. Troy Glaus was kind of the same way. … He’s a power hitter, he’s got an upper-cut swing. It’s going to lend itself to be streak and get on tears. Why he hits home runs and so on. I do like the changes he’s made to his swing. He’s always had a pretty swing. We’ve all seen it. It’s just being selective at the plate. He’s going to strike out, but when he’s in more of a groove, the strikeouts come a little less and he’s playing better. But with power guys that tend to have higher strikeout totals, historically, look at Upton in Atlanta, Mark Reynolds, huge
power. … You’re going to have a few more holes, but it’s a little more boom or bust.”


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