The Saturday Night Notebook

dasilva2

A day after the deal the Blue Jays had with Ronald Belisario fell through because he did like the proposed opt-out language the Blue Jays went and added another bullpen arm to the roster signing Tiago da Silva to a minor-league deal. da Silva spent last year in the Mexican League. He had a league high 29 saves and in 61 innings pitched he struck out 75 and only allowed 12 walks. He did pitch this winter in the Venezuelan league pitching 30 innings allowing 31 hits, striking out 37 and only walking three.  So we can now add another bullpen arm to the mix to compete for spots in the Blue Jays pen.

Speaking of Belisario, according to a tweet sent out by MLB Trade Rumors has signed a minor-league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Perhaps they had better opt-out language included in the deal.

TOP 100 PROSPECTS LIST RELEASED

The MLB Network released their list of top 100 prospects on Friday. Four Blue Jays prospects made the list. Daniel Norris was ranked 17th, Dalton Pompey was 43rd, Aaron Sanchez was 44th and Jeff Hoffman was ranked 87th. I was surprised that Norris was ranked as high up the list as he was and that Sanchez was as low as he was on the list. I’m sure that Hoffman would have been ranked higher up the list if he wasn’t coming off Tommy John Surgery and had missed last season. The other interesting thing out of the four Blue Jays listed only two of them, Sanchez and Pompey are likely to be on the big league roster come opening day.

DUQUETTE, AGAIN

Hey, it’s the story that just won’t die, no, seriously. Dan Duquette was asked Saturday if there was any substance to the Toronto rumours and according to a Associated Press report he said that yes there was substance to the rumours.

“A lot of times, players will be a trade rumour and sometimes managers get traded,” Duquette said. “It’s even more rare that executives get traded, but occasionally it happens. It’s a unique experience. I think when you have a good team and you do well, people take notice.”

When asked if the Toronto rumours took away from his job with the Orioles Duquette said;

“It’s important for the Orioles fans to know that my focus — and my singular focus — is on improving the team, We do that day by day, trade by trade, addition by addition. We did that this year in the off-season like we’ve done it in the past.”

With that said, let’s hope this is the last of this story, unfortunately though, it could very well rear it’s ugly head next winter when the Jays look for Paul Beeston’s replacement.

SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS

The Blue Jays tweeted out a list of some of the Blue Jays players and managements predictions for the game tomorrow night, most of them looked normal, until you came to Brett Cecil’s prediction, Cecil has the Patriots winning 60-0. Of the 13 predictions only four of them were for New England, Cecil, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez. Of the 13 predictions, only three had the game being decided by more than a touchdown.

With the Super Bowl tomorrow night it marks the end of the Football season, but more importantly it marks the countdown to the time for pitchers and catchers to report. The Blue Jays report February 23rd.

Only 23 more days till we can actually start seeing pictures and video of players doing baseball activities in Dunedin!

I can’t wait.

Looking Too Add Writers To The Site

Here at Blue Jay Musings we are looking to add Writers/Bloggers to the site. You don’t need to have any previous experience writing or blogging. We just need you to be passionate about the Blue Jays.

We don’t look for everyday posts, post when you feel like it, although we do ask for two to three posts a month minimum.

If your interested in joining the site as a writer or blogger email ne at sethallen@live.ca or send me a message on twitter @sethsthoughts

The Thursday Night Notebook

Getty Images

Getty Images

The Blue Jays signed a pair of veterans to minor league deals on Thursday, adding infielder Roman Santiago and reliever Ronald Belisario. Both will be at the big league camp with a chance to win a job.

Belisario, at first look, looks like yet another reclamation project that Alex Anthopoulos likes to take chances on. Belisario, who has spent five years in the big leagues, had his first year in the American League last year and it wasn’t pretty. Sure his FIP looked ok at 3.54 and he doesn’t walk many 2.4 per 9 innings, and out of his 18 walks seven of them were intentional which seems like he got himself into trouble plenty. He also keeps the ball in the park only allowing 4 homers in 66 1/3 innings last year. Where things don’t look so good is his .339 BABIP which was a career worst and he allowed 10.6 hits per 9 innings. He isn’t a big strikeout pitcher either, with a K rate of 6.4, and his whip wasn’t anything to write home about at 1.44.

Bellisario will be given a chance to win a job in Spring Training and at worse could become a depth arm that can be used in low leverage situations. If he does make the club he will make 1.7 million dollars which for what some relievers signed for this winter is a bargain. Time will tell if this signing turns into a good one or not.

Santiago is a 13 year veteran who spent last season in Cincinnati but has spent the majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers. Santiago will be a nice depth addition to the club as he can play second, short or third base. He isn’t completely awful with the bat either with a career line of .243/314/330 in 2436 at bats. Honestly, if Santiago gets much playing time in Toronto this season it will mean that things have gone horribly wrong. But, hey, on the plus side he does have playoff experience from his time in Detroit and he would be a better fit offensively than Ryan Goins. So there’s that.

JAYS LOOKING AT ADDING BULLPEN ARMS 

Jon Morosi tweeted out last night that the Blue Jays are also looking at Burke Badenhop, Rafael Soriano and Francisco Rodriguez. Both Soriano and Rodriquez have been closers in the past so both would be good signings if the price is right, and at this point in the winter the prices are starting to drop so it’s totally possible that they could be had at AA’s price. It is believed that the Blue Jays have after today’s recent signings roughly four million left in the budget but as we have learned in the past, that is subject to change.

TICKET SALES FOR MONTREAL

Morosi also tweeted out last night that 65 000 tickets have been sold so far for the two game exhibition series between the Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds at Olympic Stadium in Montreal April 3rd and 4th. which is on pace with last years ticket sales. I imagine that this won’t quite have the robust atmosphere that last years games with the Mets did, but it will still be a great weekend for the people of Montreal as they try to get a team back in Montreal.

 

Anthopoulos Speaks

Photo by Blair Gable

Photo by Blair Gable

 

On the day it was reported that Casey Janssen had signed with the Washington Nationals on a one-year five million dollar deal with a mutual option for 2016 Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos made an appearance on Prime Time Sports on the FAN 590. Audio here.

The first question posed to Anthopoulos was if there had been much communication between the Blue Jays and Janssen’s agent, AA admitted that they had a few conversations but that it was clear early on that the Jays were not going to be in on Janssen. AA did say that there was a brief discussion at the All-Star Break about an extension but it was decided to wait until after the season.

When asked about his bullpen AA wouldn’t commit to any one guy closing, he said it could be Brett Cecil, although he thinks that he may be better served in the seventh or eighth inning when they need a big out instead of waiting for him to come into the game in the ninth inning. AA also mentioned Aaron Sanchez could be used as a starter or be in the bullpen this year, and that it would depend on how well Marco Estrada and Daniel Norris pitch during the spring. AA also squelched the rumours about the Jays interest in Jonathan Papelbon by saying that if you hear the same rumours over and over again that they are not true. It’s also a line we’ve heard Anthopoulos say before.

When asked if they were going to add an arm to the pen AA said they were monitoring the pitchers left on the Free Agent Market and depending on price and fit that something could happen, although he did mention that young pitching  prospect Miguel Castro, who started last season in Vancouver will be in camp and given every opportunity to win a job in the bullpen.

The topic of Dioner Navarro came up and it sounds like that barring a trade that will help the Blue Jays, of which AA said that nothing had even come close, that Navarro will be on the team and could see time at DH as well as catching with Anthopoulos noting that Russell Martin will likely catch somewhere around 110 games. AA didn’t mention anything about Josh Thole so one would imagine that if Martin catching the knuckle ball in Spring Training goes well that Thole is likely not going to make the ball club regardless of R.A Dickey’s urging earlier in the off-season.

When asked whether there were too many guys to DH on the team Anthopoulos said that the plan is to spread the spot out to give guys some rest but also mentioned that the spot could really open up if Justin Smoak doesn’t make the team as AA said that Smoak would have to earn his spot on the team.

Second Base also came up during the interview, Anthopoulos said that Macier Izturis looks good and will be back and will be given every opportunity to win the job at second and that also the team is very high on newly acquired second baseman Devon Travis and that he could be with the ball club when the season starts.

When asked about James Shields Anthopoulos would only say that they are monitoring the pitching market and that anything could be possible as long as it stayed within the five-year window.

Anthopoulos was also asked if he see’s himself being a career GM or if he had ambitions of being a President of a team, AA says that scouting and evaluating talent is his favourite part of the job. He was also asked if this being his last year of his contract has made him run the club any differently than he normally would and he said no and that he has always managed the club with an eye towards payroll and always looking a few years ahead regardless of whether he is in the job or not. He said that his job is to look out for the best interest of the organization going forward, saying that if he wanted to he could unload the farm for established big league players but that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the Blue Jays going forward.

 

The Monday Night Notebook

beest

A day after Shi Davidi reported that the Blue Jays were pulling out of the Dan Duquette negotiations because Baltimore’s asking price was just too high, The Blue Jays made it official by announcing a one-year contract extension for Paul Beeston to stay on as president this up coming season and that Beeston will step down at the end of the season.

The release also said, “Beeston’s successor will start when he retires. We will not be commenting on the succession process or timing”.

The most interesting thing in the media release was what Ed Rogers had to say:

“Paul is one of baseball’s greats, whose passion for – and commitment to – winning is unparalleled. He is a proud Canadian and we’re proud to have him lead Canada’s team for the upcoming season,  We have been in discussions with Paul about his future with the team since his contract expired in October.  There were many rumours flying about, but it would have been inappropriate to comment on such matters publicly.  Make no mistake – we are elated to have Paul continue to lead the team for this season.”

Sure Ed, tell us how you reeeaaallllyyyy feel about bringing back the Beest for another go around. If you really were in negotiations with Beeston about his future with the ball club then why were you making phone calls to Jerry Reinsdorf and the Orioles for Duquette’s services.

More like you got your hand caught in the cookie jar trying to get another president in place and the cost became too much and the PR disaster that followed just made it worse, and you were left with no choice than to speak now about Beeston coming back in 2015.

As for Beeston, he said;

“I love this ball club and the fans.  I wake up every day thinking about the game and bringing another championship north of the border. I’m excited for the season ahead – we’ve got a great group of guys who are fiercely competitive and hope to be playing ball in October,”

As for what Beeston may have done that may have angered the high-ups at Rogers to have them search for his replacement the Friday roundtable on the FAN 590 had their thoughts, Bob McCown seems to think that the higher ups wanted to fire Alex Anthopoulos at the end of the season and that Beeston wouldn’t go along with that idea. Take it for what it’s worth but it has also been reported that with Beeston’s inner circle slowly leaving the Blue Jays that it has made it easier for the suits at Rogers to call for a change.

 

 

Dan Duquette; The Story That Just Won’t Die, And Just Who Is Calling The Shots Within Rogers?

BOB DECHIARA, USA TODAY SPORTS

BOB DECHIARA, USA TODAY SPORTS

Well, a little over 24 hours ago it sounded like the Dan Duquette to the Blue Jays saga was likely over. But as we’re slowly learning and most likely should have realized it sounds like this story is far from over at this point.

Buster Olney dropped the bomb on twitter Thursday afternoon that if a Duquette deal was finished that the compensation would be substantial and that Jeff Hoffman, who was the Blue Jays first pick in last years draft, had been discussed. The operative word there is discussed, remember the Blue Jays initially asked Boston for Clay Bucholtz when discussing compensation for John Farrell. In the end the Jays ended up with Mike Aviles and there has been precedent set when it comes to compensation for an executive.  When Theo Epstien went to the Cubs all the Red Sox was reliever Chris Carpenter.

Which makes this news of the negotiations even more strange. Bob Elliott wrote Thursday night that the Blue Jays definitely won’t be trading anyone to Baltimore. Elliott points out what most of us have thought all along and that Olney reported last week, Ed Rogers seems to be the man calling the shots in the negotiations for Duquette. Even scarier, reports out of Baltimore are saying that Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ wants more than just Hoffman to let Duquette out of the last four years of his contract with the Orioles.

The truth of the matter is Rogers has totally made a mess of this situation and deserve the ire and egg on the face that they get. The way they’ve treated current President Paul Beeston, who is rumoured to only stick around for the 2015 season, has been an utter disgrace. He has been a loyal foot solider for the Blue Jays, and is one of the original Blue Jays and in no way deserves the treatment that has come his way, regardless of what ever it is that he has done to piss off the high-ups at Rogers.

Even more troubling has been the silence from anyone within Rogers, yes Ed Rogers is the man running the negotiations, though he doesn’t have any authority on day-to day issues within Rogers. Keith Pelley, the head of Rogers Media of which the Blue Jays fall under his control, has been silent and despite his years in running sports television once walked into a meeting and once asked, “what is a relief pitcher” Guy Laurence, who is the CEO at Rogers has also been silent on the matter which I guess shouldn’t be overly surprising considering he hasn’t said a whole lot of anything about the Blue Jays since he’s been in charge of Rogers.

The bigger question that now must be asked, regardless of what pans out with Duquette, is just who is calling the shots for the Blue Jays? Shouldn’t it be the president? I know this case would be different, so one would think that it would be Phil Lind or Pelley, the fact that neither have been involved in the negotiations should answer the question that they are not the ones in on the negotiations. Which leaves us to believe that as of right now Ed Rogers, the man who has no authority of day-to-day operations of any division within Rogers, could single-handedly trade a first round pick and more for an executive. A pretty scary proposition if you ask me.

It is time for some one within Rogers to wake the hell up and fire who ever gave Ed Rogers the key to the decision-making of the Blue Jays before it is too late. One thing is true though, Rogers has sure made themselves look awful during this process and that fact can’t be denied.

The Wednesday Night Notebook

Getty Images

Getty Images

Jose Bautista made an appearance on the Fan 590 morning show, (Listen to the audio here) and was asked about a variety of questions, his future being one of them.

“It’s intriguing. It’s something I think everybody should experience once in their life if they get a chance to, Most guys that end up in free agency have somewhat of a shaky situation in their own particular club, or the money’s not there or something might happen“.

“We’ll see what the future entails for me, I’m not really thinking about that personally right now. I’m more concerned about trying to figure out a way to help the team win more games and seeing what happens after that.”

Bautista also added that he may not necessarily file for free agency when the time comes just to say that he did. Not to worry even thought Bautista’s deal runs out at the end of this season, the Blue Jays do hold a $14 million dollar option for 2016 that the Blue Jays will definitely pick up.

When asked about the moves made this offseason;

We’ve taken steps forward in the last season and we hope to continue to do that, but none of us are going to be satisfied by saying we played a little better than the year before, Everybody’s goal ultimately is to get to the playoffs and play in the World Series in any particular season, and that hasn’t changed one bit.” 

“The team and management can do whatever they want to put a great team on paper but we have to show up and play like we’re capable,”

 

Colby Rasmus took little time to bash the turf at Rogers Centre after signing with the Houston Astros on Tuesday,

“There’s no doubt,” Rasmus told the Houston Chronicle “That turf is rough on your body, especially when you’re playing 50-some games in a row. It can grind on you. I was definitely playing hard, I was diving on that turf. As we know, our pitching staff — I’m not trying to throw no rocks here — our pitching staff struggled at times, so I was on that field a lot running around. Sometimes I don’t think that was credited as much as I feel it should have been.”

Maybe someone should tell Rasmus that Houston’s pitching staff was worse that the Blue Jays staff. Get prepared to a lot more running in 2015 Colby.

Honestly, it’s getting a little old hearing every former Blue Jay on their way out-of-town harp about playing on the turf. Here’s hoping the new turf that is being installed before the season starts in April is as good as advertised when it comes to being much more player friendly than the old turf.

McCown: Beeston To Stay On As President in ’15, New Pres. for ’16

 

Image Courtesy of Sportsnet

Image Courtesy of Sportsnet

Well, take it for what it’s worth but Bob McCown said this afternoon on Prime Time Sports that he’s been told that Paul Beeston will stay on as Blue Jays President until the end of the 2015 season and will depart and that a new President will be installed in time for the 2016 season.

Of course the silence from anyone at Rogers has been very interesting, but then again, maybe the one responsible for starting this mess, Ed Rogers according to many reports, had no authority to do such a move so and maybe in the eyes of the high-ups at Rogers that it was business as usual. Beeston in December told the Star’s Brendan Kennedy that “it was business as usual”.

It could also mean that the Blue Jays have finally realized that Orioles owner Peter Angelos isn’t going to release Dan Duquette from his contract and that Major League Baseball isn’t going to be able to help them in their cause in getting Duquette that they’ve realised it’s time to give up the idee, for this year anyway.

McCown also mentioned that Beeston has pushed for a “40,o0o seat Milwaukee style stadium” which is interesting, maybe the fact that grass will be much harder to grow inside the Dome than Beeston first thought, has changed his mind to privately push for a new stadium. The other problem would also be where to build such a stadium, the downtown area would be out as the growing condo buildings have pretty much eliminated land that could fit a stadium of that size.

In the meantime, get ready to enjoy the Paul Beeston farewell season, which in the realm of things for a man that has been with the club as long as he has is the right thing to do.

The Late Monday Night Notebook

Courtesy of @BlueJays

Courtesy of @BlueJays

The Blue Jays kicked off their annual Winter Tour/Caravan over the weekend. To say it was a rousing success would be an understatement.

The Autograph signing session on Saturday at Eaton Centre on Saturday was so popular that the Blue Jays cut the line-up off before the start time of the event. The success of the event shouldn’t have been in doubt from the start. The Blue Jays were trotting out their most popular player in Jose Bautista and perhaps their most interesting in R.A Dickey, hey you never know when he’ll start politicking for Josh Thole’s roster spot, so of course you would have to believe that the crowds would be huge. But as Joanna from Hum and Chuck summed up her Winter Tour Experience as poorly planned by the Blue Jays, and left not only herself pissed, but also many disappointed Blue Jays fans who took to twitter and other social media sites.

Here is the biggest problem when it comes to the Blue Jays and how they run their Winter Tour, they are considered Canada’s team and most winters plan stops all across the country. Which leaves Toronto with only one stop and with the renewed interest in the Jays, they will run into problems like this every year.

It also got me thinking, and if any of the bean counters at Rogers are reading go ahead and use this idea, it’s time for the Blue Jays to do a fan festival in January, you could open up the Dome to the fan base for Tours of the Clubhouse, Q and A sessions with players and management and even have a bigger autograph session with more players added in. The Blue Jays could charge an admission fee of 10 to 20 dollars which could go towards the Jays Care foundation.

And for the fans in the rest of the country, you could still do the usual Winter Tour. Most Major League teams do some sort of fan festival over the winter and in my opinion it’s time the Blue Jays got on board with that. It’s almost surprising some one in the marketing department down at One Blue Jays Way hasn’t thought of the idea.

 

LATEST ON DUQUETTE

Yes, it is still newsworthy even though the faster this whole thing falls apart the better. Jon Morosi tweeted out today that MLB was not involved in the negotiations between the Blue Jays and Orioles over Dan Duquette. Morosi also tweeted out that MLB believes it is a club issue and if Angelos takes a hard-line it’s unlikely that the MLB would force the Orioles to release Duquette from his contract. If the Blue Jays trade a player off of their Major League roster just for an executive then someone in the Rogers hierarchy needs to be run out-of-town, and Lord help us if the rumours are true and it is Ed Rogers that is the one negotiating. It’s hard to imagine that AA and his baseball people within the Blue Jays management are impressed with each passing day and added rumour to the story.

The Saturday Night Notebook

Image Courtesy of John Lott

Image Courtesy of John Lott

 

Ken Rosenthal tweeted out earlier tonight that with Free Agent pitcher James Shields price falling the Blue Jays are showing interest in the right-hander. I can’t imagine that it will actually happen considering all the reports that have been floated around about the five to seven million that the Jays’ have left to spend this winter, but, stranger things have happened and who knows maybe this five to seven million is nothing more that a made up number that the Blue Jays’ have floated out there to temper expectations on the free agent market.

Speaking of that five to seven million that is supposedly left in the Blue Jays budget Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has said that the arbitration numbers won’t affect that number so I’m guessing that AA had a built-in cushion for the Arbitration process. The Blue Jays could be on the verge of going to arbitration hearings for the first time since 1997 after failing to reach agreements with Danny Valencia and Josh Donaldson. Valencia according to a tweet by Ben Nicholson-Smith, filed at 1.675 million while the Blue Jays offered 1.250 million. I would think that since they are only $425 000 apart that a deal can be reached before a hearing would occur. Josh Donaldson filed at 5.75 while the Blue Jays countered at 4.3. I would think that if they were to reach an agreement before a hearing that somewhere around five million wouldn’t be a crazy thought.

The Blue Jays annual winter tour started on Friday with a session with the media and they didn’t take long to ask Jose Bautista about the clubhouse chemistry. Bautista told the National Post’s John Lott that everything was fine and that they didn’t need to change. Rob McLeod at the Globe and Mail tweeted that Bautista had said that when the club was going through their rough patch that the players where not going to be able to smile “and party all day long like everything was roses”. R.A Dickey had a different view on whether changes needed to be made. “But it was evident that we needed some kind of shakeup,” he said. “We’d stuck with the guys that we had in our clubhouse for two years. I think [management] thought it was time. What did Einstein say the definition of insanity was? Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?” Dickey told Lott. “I think having guys in the clubhouse all pulling the same rope is really, really integral, I think it all starts with communication and being able to deliver that in a way that is encouraging and positive. So we’ll see what happens.” 

When asked about a possible rift between he and Gibby, Dickey said, “We don’t have any problems between us. But I’m the type of player that really benefits from communication. And I’ve communicated that to Gibby, which is great. I think we have a relationship where I can go and say, ‘Hey, I love it when you communicate with me.’ ”  

When Dickey was asked about who might catch him in 2015, he was, well, very supportive of his personal catcher Josh Thole. “I’m with Josh now, like he doesn’t even have to put down a sign,” Dickey told The Globe and Mail’s Rob McLeod. “I can go a whole game without him flashing one sign. That’s remarkable. And to get to that place with another person is going to be a real challenge, but it’s not that it can’t be done.” When asked about the possibility of Russell Martin catching the knuckleball, “Nothing’s going to replace time spent together,” Dickey said. “And so, I think from the get-go we’re going to probably be spending a lot of time on the side, bullpens, playing catch, so that he can get a feel for what that pitch does and see if he feels like it’s something he can do every day that I pitch. That’s 34 starts.” he also added this, “Russell just needs to get repetitions. He’s an incredible athlete and so guys that are good athletes, they’ve got to have good hand-eye co-ordination, which he possesses. They usually have, not an easy time, but a better chance of doing it well.

Personally I’d let Martin work with Dickey in Spring Training and if all goes well then I’d let Martin catch Dickey’s starts, jettison Thole out-of-town and keep Dioner Navarro around as a back-up. As for Dickey, the more I hear him talk the more and more I think he is an overpaid diva.

 

 

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