The Daily Duce: Thursday, November 13th

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Well, I didn’t go to computer academy!

Keith Law has elaborated in a on why he’s soft on Devon Travis in a post at ESPN.com analyzing several recent transactions, suggesting that the Jays’ acquisition is a “below-average defender,” and citing concerns about the second baseman’s “unorthodox” swing. “He has leaky hips and starts his swing from a dead stop with his hands loaded low, making up for it a bit with strength, something that won’t work as well against major league pitching,” he explains. It’s certainly not an unfair concern, though I’m glad that several other evaluators don’t appear to agree.

Bob Elliott’s piece on the Gose-Travis trade for the Toronto Sun includes some interesting information on the differences between the Jays and Melky Cabrera as they continue to try to come to an agreement that would see him return. Cabrera has told friends that the Jays offered three-years and $39-million, apparently, but “the outfielder’s agent is believed to be looking for a $50 million package.” Honestly, I think that’s a fair price for Melky to be pushing for, and a fair offer from the Jays. It’s not looking good.

So… you know that thing about how the Jays are supposedly after Russell Martin? I actually quite like the idea — he’s a marked upgrade on Dioner Navarro, especially defensively, and especially with respect to receiving and framing, and moving Navarro to a backup/DH/PH role would be rather ideal — but there’s a problem. As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and others, tell us, the Dodgers are interested. I’d suggest that maybe some Canadian sentimentality could work in the Jays’ favour here, but if a thing like that’s going to be a factor at all, all else would have to be equal. When Dodgers money is involved, I’m not sure I’m seeing the Jays being equal.

Shi Davidi wraps up the GM meetings in a piece for Sportsnet, explaining that the Jays’ deal with Detroit came about suddenly, that the club doesn’t have anything else imminent, noting that they checked in on Andrew Miller as part of their pursuit of a revamped bullpen, and suggesting that Brook Jacoby isn’t the only person being considered for the club’s vacant hitting coach position. “Asked about Jacoby’s chances of landing the job, one source said ‘probably,’ while another noted other candidates are in the mix,” we’re told.

As noted earlier, Ken Rosenthal tweeted this morning that the Jays were the team that the Tigers “feared most” in the bidding for Victor Martinez. That’s certainly a nice thought for a fan base that, despite all the early off-season rumours, still isn’t convinced that their team actually has any money that it’s willing to spend. But does it change anything? As much as Martinez would have been a better fit than Adam Lind — he’s a switch hitter who can even spend a little time behind the plate — he’s still not exactly ideal for a club losing two thirds of its outfield and still searching for infield and bullpen help. He’d have been a great addition, don’t get me wrong, and lately I’ve been of the mind that if any of the top free agents is willing to take the Jays’ money, they should go ahead and give it to him and sort the rest out later — they just so rarely get the opportunity to add top talent to this organization. But the piece from Davidi linked above, he characterizes Martinez as a player who the Jays “expected would remain with the Tigers all along.” Hmmm.

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The Daily Duce: Tuesday, November 11th

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Hey, so… uh… anything happen since I last posted one of these? I mean besides Rob Ducey here starting to look kinda like Paul Molitor.

Welp. We’d better start with the good stuff, eh? That is: the insanity. The Jays, by several accounts, are pushing for some of the biggest name free agents out there. It’s a posture that has rarely been struck by this club in the Anthopoulos era, and it’s not exactly easy to take seriously. The financial reasons for that are obvious, but there’s also the fact that some of these guys don’t necessarily seem like the greatest fits. Left fielders, top relievers, and second-basemen-who-can-eventually-supplant-Jose-Reyes-at-short they are not. If a big name free agent actually wants to take the Jays’ money, though, um… maybe just do it and sort out the rest later?

The Jays are “interested” in Victor Martinez says Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That doesn’t exactly fit with the “DH flexibility” narrative that the club peddled in the wake of the Adam Lind trade, but the fact that he can occasionally catch — he did so twice in 2014 and three times the year previous — almost makes it a little easier to rotate ailing veterans through the spot on occasion without having to remove the team’s best bats from the lineup. Almost.

Bob Elliott writes about the Martinez thing in this morning’s Toronto Sun, quoting a coy-as-ever Alex Anthopoulos, who divulges, “We’re going to make calls on 3-to-5-to-7 free agents. Ultimately you have to move at your own pace.” He doesn’t sound particularly optimistic about the club landing two free agents. And as for the Martinez idea — or the idea of a Martinez-like player, as I’m sure he’d say (though John Gibbons did mention VMart by name in a radio interview last week) — he reverts to typical AA: “We don’t know who will be available, do we go get a first baseman and DH Edwin Encarnacion? Or do we play Edwin at first and rotate guys through the DH spot?”

Later in the piece, Elliott tells us that the Jays have also called the Phillies to ask on Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Antonio Bastardo. Because… um… the Jays are apparently telling everyone everything they’re doing now?

Elliott also mentions the Jays’ reported interest in Jussell Martin — cruelly noting that the last time the maple wonder was up for free agency the club, who ultimately failed to sign him (obviously), “offered him a part-time role as they were ready to give the catching job to rookie J. P. Arencibia, coming off an MVP season at triple-A Las Vegas.” Ugh. Jeff Blair wrote at Sportsnet more than a week ago that the Jays had internal discussions about Martin, and last week Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago noted that the Jays and Cubs were one of a handful of teams Jussell’s camp would meet with, with Brian McCann’s five-year, $75-million contract a “focal point” for the nine-year veteran who will turn 32 in February, and who declined the qualifying offer made to him by the Pirates (and will thus cost a draft pick).

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reported last week that Pablo Sandoval will also meet with the Jays, among others, during the GM Meetings, which are going on right now in Phoenix. I’m terrified by his platoon split, his weight, and his cost, but that sure would be fun as fuck, huh? It would also piss off Parkes, so double bonus. Yet, at the same time, who can even get terrified by something so ludicrous as the idea of the Jays actually convincing Pablo Sandoval to come here? The cynic in me thinks, “Well, I guess you sell more season tickets if you look like you’re actually trying,” and… um… what else could all this stuff really be? Prove me wrong, kids. Prove me wrong.

In another Nicholson-Smith piece we find that Jose Bautista isn’t feeling quite as negative as I am. Or, at least, not publicly. Not anymore. Did the P.R. department get to him? I actually wouldn’t think he’d be the type to not say what’s on his mind, but… who knows? “I’m not going to put this in stone or say I got this from any type of official source,” Bautista told Jeff Blair on the Fan 590 yesterday, “just using my logic he’s going to have some money to play with. We’ll see what happens and I’m excited to see what kind of moves he’s able to come up with.” Fingers crossed.

The other big free agent on Jays fans’ radar, of course, is Melky Cabrera, who rejected the Jays’ qualifying offer yesterday, ensuring that the club will at least get a halfway decent draft pick if they’re unable to re-sign him. Jeff Blair wrote about that decision yesterday at Sportsnet, when it was imminent, and spoke to an Alex Anthopoulos who sounded like he was gearing up move one way or the other. “I’m not going to allow myself to be held up in making some decisions,” the GM told Blair. “Really, you should know if you have a shot by the winter meetings.” Problem is, Blair warns, that the market for a former P.E.D. guy like Melky might develop slowly.

In other words, let’s maybe not hold our breath on this Melky thing. Which… were we? As much as it feels important not to lose him, and possible to keep him because of his saying all the right things on the way out the door, I continue to believe that he’s not irreplaceable. His production will need to be replaced in one way or another, to be sure, but there are ways to do that without him. Joshua Howsam wrote something quite along those lines this week at Blue Jays Plus, making the case that the club may well be better off with money spent elsewhere, and noting that there are lower cost alternatives who could help ease the loss very nicely.

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