AA Speaks, Part II: On Toritani


As I covered in the previous post, Alex Anthopoulos popped up on the Fan 590 this morning, chatting with Jeff Blair about the off-season so far. Apart from the nuggets about payroll discussed, it was pretty typical Anthopoulos fare, save for one thing: he actually acknowledged that the club has interest Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani.

Obviously that jibes with all of the reports we’ve been hearing out of Japan, it’s just… he doesn’t usually get specific like that. Perhaps the fact that Toritani wasn’t previously property of another MLB club is why? Whatever the case, here’s what he said:

“We’ve scouted him quite a bit. We have some scouts that like him. And he’s someone that we’ve certainly talked about internally. Beyond that, I probably wouldn’t get into anything else. But certainly a guy like that would fit; we do have an opening from an everyday second base job, and we certainly haven’t hidden the fact that we’re open to try and bring in some guys either to compete or to give them that job, because we really don’t have someone that we can anoint, at this time, the everyday player there. So a guy like Toritani is definitely someone that we’ve talked about, we’ve scouted.”

Moments later he adds, “There’s certainly truth to the fact that we’ve had talks.”

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AA Speaks, Part I: On Payroll


Alex Anthopoulos popped up on the Fan 590 this morning, chatting with Jeff Blair about the off-season so far, and while you probably could have written a bunch of Alex’s answers in advance — I actually did for one of them, about how much of a distraction the Beeston rumours have been, on Twitter (shock: they haven’t been distracting at all, he says) — there were surprisingly more than a few nuggets worth taking note of.

Blair spent a lot of time in the early part of the segment talking about Melky Cabrera, seemingly attempting to fold that talk into a bigger discussion about the club’s payroll. This tactic actually worked fairly well, as Anthopoulos was as close to specific about where his club’s payroll is going (er… staying) as he’s maybe ever been.

The G.M. admitted that, as Blair had been reporting for the last week or so, he had contacted Cabrera’s camp as the Michael Saunders deal was being finalized in order to let them know that the Jays were no longer interested. Two stray thoughts about this: one, so much for John Gibbons saying at the Winter Meetings that the door had yet to be closed on Melky coming back, and two, hopefully this means that the Jays are keen enough not to view Saunders as a potential centrefielder (which he almost certainly would have become if they continued to pursue, and ultimately landed, Cabrera). But obviously, it’s Alex’s thoughts on why they exited the Cabrera chase — despite Melky actually landing in Chicago on a reasonably-priced deal — that actually matter, and in giving us those he continued to assert that the two sides, as he’d claimed all along, really had trouble lining up.

“I don’t know that we were ever going to be close,” he said of the talks with Melky, which took place both around the All-Star break and after the season ended. And when the deal with the Mariners for Saunders came about prior to the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos liked it for all the obvious reasons, and made the hard choice to go for it while it was still on the table, even as he knew it meant ruling himself out of the Melky market — the catalyst being his fear that if Seattle had shopped the player at the Winter Meetings, another club might have made a better offer.

“We had, and still have, a lot of needs on this club,” he explained. “Our payroll’s a very strong, healthy payroll. Again, though, we do have a limit of where we’re prepared to go. Our payroll is certainly — I expect it to be right there in that top ten range, or at least close to the top ten. And at some point you have to make a decision. So, when we signed Martin, and being able to get Saunders, and two years of control with Saunders,  at his arbitration salaries — and you recover the draft pick for Melky, as well, that we lost with Martin — and also to have dollars to allocate to some other areas, that’s what made the most sense to us.”

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Pw/oC: Jays Add Andrew Albers?

OK, a couple comments needed here. 1) This report is coming from one of those teenage rumour-mongers who got famous the other week (see his avatar), which doesn’t mean what he’s saying is legitimate, but surely he’s a cut above some clown off the street. And 2) this would have to be a minor league deal (if it’s anything) in which case… fine. Some rotation depth, some bullpen depth — whatever it is, we’re talking about a soft-tossing lefty with 60 big league innings under his belt (and a paltry 25 strikeouts to go with them). And he pitched somewhat poorly in the hitter-heavy Korean League last season, for whatever that’s worth. So, if it’s a big league deal, something too insane to contemplate has happened.

Oh, and 3) he’s Canadian, if for some reason you actually care.

Update: At MLB Daily Rumors, Murray does suggest that it’s a minor league deal with an invite to the big league camp this spring, and points out that Albers (who was originally drafted by the Padres, then released after Tommy John surgery forced him to miss all of 2009, joining the Twins organization in 2011 after a year in the independent Can-Am league) was less than entirely pedestrian during a 2013 run at Triple-A. Think lefty Liam Hendriks, I guess. However, Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that Albers is still weighing his options, and that reports of an agreement are premature.

Toritani And Hanshin Ready For An “Indefinite Wait”


Well this seems less likely to happen by the day, doesn’t it?

According to a translation from @Daisy_child of a report from Tokyo Sports, Takashi Toritani has an offer of double of what the MLB clubs involved from his current team, the Hanshin Tigers. “I never actually said I’ve decided to go to MLB,” he explained, according to her translation.

She adds that the report says that Hanshin has given him no deadline. “Even in February during our Spring Training, if he decides to stay, he’s welcome,” the club reportedly has said.

But who wants a proper translation when we can just run the report through the ol’ Google machine, amiright?

Here’s what it tells us:

Hanshin, which aims to residual of exercise was Toritani Kei-nai fielder (33) overseas FA rights, turn from prospect of year settled, biennial → also reply of next year in February camp OK, de facto called “indefinite wait” in it’s poised to wait for the good news.

. . .

Already more than one major teams such as the Blue Jays have shown interest in acquiring the Toritani. In unpredictable, the reply OK until next February cry rush thing, heck, it somehow.

Actually Hanshin are caught again evaluation of Japanese infielder-Toritani, that condition is low with the latest information. Certain “conditions the inner was presented to Toritani Beyond (major) more than doubled. Toritani rather than chasing only a dream, reality surface is also important. (Attorney) bolus Mr.” also residual of Hanshin because its also had suggested the possibility and “” (another team executives)

So… yeah. That about sums it up, I think.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on it…

Daric Barton Could Be Useful, But Let’s Hope He Doesn’t Have To Be


Barton Fink! Barton Fink!

Cue morons saying “dumpster diving!”

Sorry to continue to beat a dead horse on that point, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Jays — or any club — making small depth pickups that have a small chance of providing some small measure of utility for the club, but most likely will end up being utterly meaningless. And the fact that some Jays fans throw up their arms, pretend sombody is asking them to believe that what they’re seeing is Alex’s “big move,” and then vent accordingly is as baffling as it is insufferable.

Small moves happen. They’re OK. And the Jays adding Daric Barton certainly qualifies as both.

There’s nothing wrong with adding a guy on a minor league deal, and Barton is actually an interesting one. He’s a guy with a decent pedigree — the 28th pick in 2003, dealt (along with Dan Haren and Kiko Calero) to Oakland in the Mark Mulder trade), ranked on numerous top 100 lists as a prospect, peaking at 22nd in 2008 for Baseball Prospectus, and 28th in 2006 by Baseball America — and with a five win season on his resume.

Barton hit .273/.393/.405, posting a 126 wRC+ for the A’s in 2010. The next April he hurt his right shoulder diving back to second base in a game against Minnesota, played through it, put up a bunch of dismal numbers, got demoted, and ultimately needed surgery for a torn labrum.

He’s never been the same player again. Over 600 big league plate appearances since the beginning of that 2011 season he’s been exactly replacement level.

He’s put up some interesting minor league numbers, though, albeit in the Pacific Coast League. However, they don’t come with the usual PCL caveat, as he’s played in a rather pitcher-friendly home park in Sacramento. In 2013 he put up a .305/.428/.432 line against right-handers (which includes 120 plate appearances in Oakland, too), though he slumped to a .243/.366/.373 line in the split in 2014 (including 30 of 105 total games in the majors). (It has been pointed out that he has reverse splits in his big league career, but that has not been the case in his recent minor league history).

That 2014 on-base is still pretty alright, mind you. And as far as dirt cheap guys to potentially come in and, if Justin Smoak struggles, help this club out against right-handed pitching — where, with their righty-heavy lineup, they’ll need it the most — you could do a whole lot worse. Steamer projects him to hit .248/.344/.364 in the majors in 2015.

And he’s a good defender at first base, too.

So… he’s maybe not a guy that anybody should want to see getting a lot of time in the majors next season. But he’s not a player completely without utility, either. A fine pickup. And this far down the first base depth chart? Nothing wrong with that.

Image via Reddit