Highlights From The Russell Martin Press Conference

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There really wasn’t a tonne from Thursday’s Russell Martin press conference that needs to be written about, frankly. That might seem strange given all the tweets embedded below, but much of that is information filtered out in the moments after, as the local media was actually able to get their hands on Alex Anthopoulos.

But the Martin stuff? He was beaming, he seemed genuine and affable, he said all the right things, and it was exactly the kind of sunny love-in you’d expect when a team makes its first major free agent signing sign J.P. Ricciardi inked Frank Thomas on November 18th, 2006.

But so what if it was maybe a little predictable? As a Jays fan, it’s impossible not to feel pretty damn good right now.

The off-season isn’t going to pause long for us to bask in this moment, though, and so while we’ll take a look here at a bunch of notable moments from the presser, we’ll also highlight at a bunch of scuttlebutt as well.

Um… mostly just by lazily copying a bunch of tweets…

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The Daily Duce: Thursday, November 20th

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Did you just… lay a clutch of eggs?

The Blue Jays tweet out the first image of Martin in a Jays uniform. This is really kinda awesome, eh?

I’ll have more to say from the just-concluded press conference in a separate post shortly, by the way.

As noted below, Dioner Navarro has “expressed an interest in being dealt” to the Blue Jays, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s understandable — Navarro is a free agent after 2015 and stands to make a lot more coming off a full-time gig than he would hitting the market as a backup and part-time sub-par DH — but as John Lott tweets, “just a wild guess, but the Blue Jays would probably explore trades for Navarro even without him asking.”

I like the idea of Navarro as a backup catcher, pinch-hitter, and part-time DH, and the club certainly doesn’t have to trade him just because he’s asked — according to Heyman “the Jays responded by telling Navarro … that they believe they could get him decent playing time between DH and catcher” — but they could feasibly get a nice piece in return for him. And since the Jays need bullpen help, and Anthopoulos has a long-established penchant for trading catcher for relievers, um… I think we all see where this is going.

Also noted below is Ken Rosethal’s tweet about the club’s potential interest in Torii Hunter, and their waning confidence regarding Melky. Hunter’s defence has fallen off a cliff in the last two years, with him being an abysmal eighteen runs below average by both UZR and DRS in 2014, and he’s not much more than a league average hitter, too. He was basically replacement level last year. Pass.

As for Melky, I know that getting a draft pick back after giving one up for Martin is a big thing, but as I tweeted earlier: “Should we maybe put two and two together regarding the Jays’ ‘culture change’ stuff and their seemingly lukewarm interest in Melky?”

Heyman tells us that the White Sox appear to be interested in Melky, by the way.

Stealing my own tweets again here, but: Not to be too cynical, but Rogers family giving $130M for heart research kinda fits the PR plans we’ve heard about. And, of course, by “not to be too cynical” I mean “to be a total ghoul about it.” Just thinking that it maybe suggests some credence to the idea that Rogers is consciously trying to repair their brand, which would be a good thing for the Jays (obviously in addition to just being a good thing in general). However, someone who does fundraising for U of T tweets at me to say it’s been in the works for years, so good on the Rogerses. It’s “the‎ largest donation ever to a Canadian health-care institution or university,” says the Globe and Mail.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reviews John Gibbons’ appearance on the Fan 590 this morning, during which the Jays’ manager said that there are “no problems” with R.A. Dickey, despite recent speculation that he too may be perceived as a poor fit in the Jays’ room. I really don’t know about all that stuff — I’d rather the Jays accumulate talent, frankly, and Dickey, despite the caddy, certainly is still that, even if he’s not quite been the guy the Jays were hoping they’d get.

More importantly from the Gibbons piece, the manager admits that the club is eyeing top relief choice Andrew Miller. “Us and everybody else,” he added. “He’s a hot item right now. He’s come a long way in a couple of years. He was that big, hard thrower that was kind of erratic and he really came into his own in the last couple of years. You look at our team right now with Casey gone, and there’s a hole in that closer spot.”

Meanwhile, Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Jays have added RHP Ryan Tepera to their 40-man roster, which fills the space left yesterday when Juan Francisco was claimed on waivers by the Red Sox. This means that John Stilson will be unprotected, among others, as it currently stands. Bluebird Banter has an excellent rundown of the club’s Rule 5 situation.

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DISCUSS: The Russell Martin Introductory Press Conference

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Russell Martin’s introductory press conference is live! Watch it at MLB.com or at Sportsnet. Discuss it here!

As I said on Twitter, good for Martin starting with the fifth year of the contract when listing reasons to come here. Because… y’know. We know.

Help translating the French statements in the comments appreciated!

A Closer Look At Sandoval Reveals A Less-Than-Ideal Fit For The Jays (Not That It Really Matters)

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Are the Blue Jays bidding the price on a guy they think the Red Sox really want?

Are they trying to show the league that they’re serious about continuing to flex their financial muscle?

If so, great! Go nuts being “in the mix” for Pablo Sandoval, as Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday night that they indeed are.

If the intention is to actually sign Sandoval to a massive, long-term deal, though, let’s maybe think about this for just a second.

Yes, Sandoval is a three-time World Series winner, and the metrics on him suggest he’s a much better defender than looking at the ample amount of material required to make his pants might suggest — he’s posted a positive UZR in three of four years, and done so by DRS in three of five. Though a concern, the stints he’s spent on the DL since graduating to the big leagues in 2008 haven’t necessarily had anything to do with his weight (surgery on both wrists, a left thigh strain, and a left foot problem), and he’s been a very productive hitter, posting a 122 wRC+ in his career by way of a .294/.346/.465 slash.

He’s projected to produce with the bat at that level again, as Steamer has him putting up 3.6 WAR with a .281/.337/.451 line in 2015. And he’ll play next season as a 28-year-old. A five-year deal — which Rosenthal tells us the Jays won’t go beyond, quite likely making this a moot issue regardless (if it wasn’t already by virtue of the fact that they’re the Jays) since Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says Sandoval is seeking six years at $20-million per — would see him through just his age-32 season.

Maybe the weight, then, won’t be as big an issue, given his relative youth. It’s impossible to say, because, as Brian MacPherson notes in an excellent Providence Journal piece on some of the red flags on a player the Red Sox are also known to be pursuing, “we don’t really know exactly what Sandoval weighs,” and “because player weights are hard to pin down, we don’t have enough data to know how the heaviest players age.”

“Common sense says that signing Sandoval into his late 30s seems like a mistake,” he concludes. “Signing Sandoval through age 32 or age 33, however, might not be.”

All massive free agent contracts require risk, so it’s not unreasonable to think a team could get over those issues. If only they were the lone concern.

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Presented Without Comment…

Today In MLBTR: Wednesday, November 19th

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Hotstove season remains in full swing, and should continue to intrigue us at least until its traditional pre-Winter Meetings grinding to a halt for U.S. Thanksgiving, which is a week from Thursday. So let’s put a Jays-related spin on what’s being whispered out there, thanks to the great work of the utterly invaluable MLB Trade Rumors

Before we get into all the rumblings from around the league, a couple non-MLBTR notes:

The Jays have announced that tomorrow they’ll introduce Russell Martin at a press conference here in Toronto. Fun! And via Soundcloud we have a clip of John Gibbons talking about the deal on MLB Network Radio.

Remember that thing Bob McCown was saying about Jon Lester? Um… about that. Here’s something from Monday afternoon that came to use over the course of a pair of tweets from Peter Gammons: “Anthopolous figures Martin impacts about half his roster, loves the leadership, better contact rates. ‘What we do now will probably be trades. We’ll check in on Lester, but we won’t go to six years, and we know we won’t be in.’” So… there’s that.

Don’t go thinking too ill of Alex Anthopoulos just yet though. At least not until you check out this quote from Dave Cameron on yesterday’s edition of FanGraphs Audio: “I think if you include any kind of positive valuation for framing, it seems to be fairly easy to see Martin as a four-win player. And if you think what four-win players at other positions get — Jacoby Ellsbury got $150-million last year; Shin-Soo Choo’s a three-win player and got $140-million? — you know? Eighty-million dollars for a four win player in today’s day in age is a pretty good deal, even for an aging guy who might not be able to play 120 games behind the plate for that much longer.”

Nails much? Now on to the MLBTR stuff…

Just in case AA’s bluffing or something’s changed, we’d better keep an eye on Lester rumours anyway, and in the latest we’re told that the Red Sox have made an offer to their former ace. He “is expected to take his time considering the proposal, and still has several other clubs with significant interest to explore,” yet he also “seems to be the top starter whose market is moving fastest at present.” The Jays are still listed among those with interest — and it’s suggested that the Yankees may have some, as well. It sure would be a hell of a thing to snatch him away from one of those clubs, but at this point I wouldn’t hold my breath. And I especially wouldn’t hold my breath on Pablo Sandoval — who the Jays were linked to earlier in the month — as it’s also noted that the Red Sox are being quite aggressive on him, too. Would completely love to see the Massholes strike out and Panda go back to San Francisco, eh?

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McCown: “May Not Be A Real Limit” To Payroll, Rogers Intends To Use Jays To Burnish Image

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Very interesting stuff from Tuesday night’s edition of Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 here in Toronto, as noted in the Presented Without Comment… below this post, in which Bob McCown offered his take on the conversations he says he’s been privy to within the halls at Bloor and Jarvis, and what his understanding is of how new CEO Guy Laurence intends to do business with respect to the Jays.

In short: if true it’s very, very, tremendously good news for Jays fans.

The key points: the club wants to spend — they’ve already budgeted for an increase — and ownership is willing to go over-budget if the right deal comes along. Better still, the club specifically wants Jon Lester, but is concerned about the seven-year term he’s asking for. That would almost seem to be more a Beeston concern, though — i.e. the policy — as Rogers, if we’re to believe it, sees tremendous value in repairing their reputation, and thinks that standing behind a well-funded, successful Blue Jays club could be a great way to help do so.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Here is the full quote from near the beginning of the segment you can hear here, as McCown lays a bunch of inner-workings stuff on co-host Ken Reid before, just as quickly as our nugget of a tangent began, the conversation slips back into typical Toronto radio hockey talk nonsense.

McCOWN: The Blue Jays’ payroll will go up this year. How much is unclear. But there may not be a real limit to it. There’s a real sense that the new CEO of Rogers Communications — Rogers Rogers… whatever it is (it’s not “Rogers Communications”)… the big company — Guy Laurence, the big enchilada. I’m sort of… I’m making some assumptions here, so I don’t want to say this is a fact, but it seems as if he recognizes the potential importance to the corporation of the Blue Jays — perhaps more than the previous administrator. And also understands that the Blue Jays can be a conduit in improving the image of this company.

Some have suggested that — not I, but… — that Rogers is among the most disliked corporations in the country. And it’s understandable, because we get services from Rogers, and any time something goes wrong with those things, we feel like that’s who we have to blame. Now, if you’re with Bell, for example, and your phone doesn’t work or your cable goes down — well, they don’t have cable or whatever it is they have — or any of their other services — their internet services — you get mad at them. So, let’s face it, Rogers is a big, big company. So it’s understandable. But I think this CEO is trying to address that — understands that one of the ways that you curry favour with your clientele is with a product like the Toronto Blue Jays.

REID: So you produce a winning team and everybody loves the owner. Which we see in pretty much every team that wins. Is that what you’re getting at?

McCOWN: I’m alluding to that. And nobody’s told me that exactly, but the inference has been there that if there’s a deal on the table that would take the Blue Jays beyond the increase they’ve already budgeted for, there’s a confidence level that there’d be no issue whatsoever. Like the Jon Lester deal. And what I’m told about Lester is: money isn’t the issue. The Blue Jays are prepared to pay him market value — what he’s looking for. It’s years. He wants seven years.

REID: That would be going against the five year plan. But would this — I’ll call it a P.R. move — would that be enough to bend it?

McCOWN: I don’t know whether this is the deal you break the egg on.

REID: They’re going to have to break that egg at some point. I don’t know if it’s this year, but at some point you’re going to have to just realize that the price of doing business is as much term as it is money — because term is money. I’ll take $20-million a year, but I want it for eight years, not for five, so… that’s 60-million bucks.

McCCOWN: Yeah.


So… weird. It’s like I’m getting deja vu here, and not just because I’ve whined forever about how all the talk we hear about term in these free agent dealings is just a shorthand for more money — as in: Russell Martin didn’t choose the Jays because he really wanted a five year deal more than a four-year one, he did so because the five-year pact was worth $82-million, and the four-year one was topping out around $70-million.

No, I’m getting deja vu because it’s like so much of what’s being talked about here is lifted straight from Kelly Pullen’s October Toronto Life cover story on Edward Rogers III, as well as — if I do say so myself — my own thoughts pivoting off Pollen’s work (which you can see by way of last night’s Presented Without Comment…, in the bottom post at this link).

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