Showing posts with label jeff blair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jeff blair. Show all posts

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alex Anthopolous on the Jeff Blair Show



Jays GM Alex Anthopolous joined Jeff Blair on the air this morning, responding to various queries from the emeritus Jays beat dude. Seeing how I'm sitting here and you're sitting there, I thought I'd provide a pointless redundant valuable service and give you the highlights.

Let's do it. These are paraphrased with my own 2 cents peppered in wherever I see fit.

Blair: How much longer can the DFA All Stars play before the natives move from "restless" to "elsewhere?"

"That's fair (Ed: the discontent.) A lot of games have been tough to watch, making some errors and doing some things. It's one of those things...It's easy to say we're going to bring them up (Ed: the kids) and let them struggle but sometimes they're not ready, even to struggle."

Alex Anthopolous answers questions without answering questions via the age-old skill of talking in circles. It's good that he gets it but doesn't seem too interested in straying from The Plan. He goes on to mention that Rivera's playing better though losing Lind was tough.

The bullpen isn't as bad as it seems, AA (rightfully) claims. Then he comes with a little Real Talk on a Friday.
When it seems to happen to you, you feel like it's worse than any other place.
Agreed. It always seems worse when you're in it.

AA then says something interesting which I'll come back to later.
We're hoping to get these kids up here and here to stay. Hopefully sooner rather than later but we want to make sure we time it right.
Hmmm. AA spoke of Lawrie's mandate to improve his walk/strikeout ratio as the team knew his high batting average wasn't sustainable (swoon!)

Getting technical with prospects - more than just the slash line.

The team sent Mike Mordecai to work with Lawrie and some of the other guys, says Lawrie is getting better at third base.

The team feels like in the minors, they can "work on things, work on technique but it isn't life and death if you make a mistake." Less attention gives more space for growing pains. The atmosphere in the minors is such that the wins don't matter. Anthopolous refers to the development of Kyle Drabek.
We can force Kyle Drabek to work on his changeup in New Hampshire, even if he gave up a home run every time we can tell him it's okay. We need you to work on it and make it a better pitch...We want them to work on the process so that we when they get up here they can worry about the results.
The last line is the money quote for me. Plan the parade.

Frank Francisco

AA claims FF is "Showing good arm strength, good stuff, plus curveball at times, plus split, plus velocity. Missed the first month so he's just getting it going." I tend to agree, though if he's not ready, why run him out in the 9th inning?

When asked who will assume the role, AA suggests Rauch pitched well as a closer last year but FF has bigger stuff, making him a better option.

The bullpen on the whole? "We'll have bad stretches, it happens over six months." AA points out that, why the bullpen's gagged up some leads, the 'pen still ranks well against the rest of the American League.

On Super Two status: Anthopoulos has "no issue" with the Super Two designation going away, as anyone who runs a baseball team would feel. He claims it "takes away from what we're trying to do as a brand." NO HUSTLE OR HEART IN MANIPULATING SERVICE TIME.

Then comes the big takeaway: Over 80% of arb eligible players use an option. They almost always go down. Snider, Cecil, Wells, all used options. You'd love for guys to come up and stay up but, odds are, they're getting optioned at least once. Once they go down Service time goes right out the window, according to the braintrust.

Anthopolous cites JPA and Kyle Drabek as proof the Jays don't tinker or concern themselves with service time. AA states Super Two only really impacts a team if he becomes a superstar. Great problem to have.

I don't disagree with AA's statements here but doesn't it completely undercut the earlier soft sell re: coming up and staying up? I worry a little bit about peddling a future you know you cannot provide. They all go down and take their lumps.

Finally, on trades.

It is far too early in the season to get people to be motivated to do things. After the draft it will kick into high gear. Teams are just too leary of doing something too early/waving the white flag. They're always active and seeing who is out there.

Jose Reyes? Read that, heard about it. Can't talk about it. Any rumour - we're almost always linked to any player. 90% of things he read were bunk, you almost have to roll your eyes.

Telling stuff when Blair asked him directly about Jose Reyes. "We have a great shortstop - ready to be an all star and two more years of control. We have areas on this club we need to improve, shortstop is not one of them."

Again, can't say I disagree. Thoughts?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Red Flag Fridays!


While the playoffs heat up for some lucky fans and the covetous eyes of the also-rans dart across the free agent lists, I figured it attempt to throw some cold water on some of the scarier whispers I've heard.

Jeff Blair took time away from glaring at babies and building a shrine to Saint Joe Strummer to announce his presidency of the Orlando Cabrera fan club. Frighteningly enough, Blair points to new Jays GM A.A. Milne as the driving force behind the rumored "sign and trade" that may have been in the works this past winter. While getting around the Type A draft pick sacrifice would be a deft bit of business, I'll reiterate what I said in March: fuck no to O Cab. As much as I enjoy aging me-first malcontents that don't get on base, I think I'll pass. You can talk about winners all you want, but showing up the umpire in a one-game playoff because you don't like a strike one call is horseshit. Doubly so when you KNOW he won't throw you out because of the situation.

Remember when I said "fuck no" to Jason Bay last month? Well the much-smarter people at U.S.S. Mariner chimed in and offered their own "fuck no" to the local boy that is Canadian lives in the area and hits for power.

Some of the reasons he doesn't work in Seattle don't apply here (his bad defense won't be made to look worse as in gigantic Safeco Field) but the rest applies. Age. Decline Phase. Old Player Skills. Too much money for too many years. Enough.

Image courtesy of Flikr user /sizemore/. Topical!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Please Come Back Geoff Baker


We're pretty lucky in Toronto, and as Jays fans in general. Two big local papers, one big national paper and one joke of a national paper all employ people to think and write about baseball to fill the space around hockey conjecture. As with anything, we get the good and the bad. Not to say that any one writer is "bad" but the variety of tone and agenda helps push the Jays conversation to new levels.

As much as I like the curmudgeonly Blair and his keen, mostly cliche-free baseball sense. Over Twitter it's become clear he and I don't agree on all things (ahem, the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time) but he thinks about the game similarly to the way many of us think about the game. The batshit craziness of Griff owes a lot to the Joe Morgan School of Established Baseball Logic. That and the Richard Griffin School of Thinly Veiled Agendas. I've said before as long as Griff avoids talking specifically about baseball, he's quite an enjoyable read. The guys that write for the Sun that are forced to write like they write for the Sun, Bob Elliott makes me smile because I read everything with his voice in mind. How could I forget the National Post's prolific new writer AP? He (or she!) may only use his initials, but he's all over the map, following every game. Riveting stuff. Grinding yeoman like MacLeod and Zweloakljdasfklj turn in their game stories on time (no small feat I'm sure) and countdown the days until they're free to ignore baseball forever.

So what's missing? How about a statistically forward-thinking blogger/beatwriter that quotes modern advanced statistics? Turns out we had such a creature working here in Toronto, now working in Seattle. Geoff Baker's blog and writing in general are excellent to read even if you don't care much for the Mariners.

You might say "But Drew, isn't he basically doing the same thing you are? What would you do then?" I'm sure I'd figure something out. I haven't attacked J.P. Riccardi's character in a few months, that never goes out of style! The most obvious benefit of Baker or any writer with a large forum writing about baseball in a modern way is the education of the masses. The more people read about UZR or FIP in the daily paper, the more credibility it gains. Which could buy some time from the uninitiated to get their heads around the thought that batting average and errors aren't the be all and end all. Jesus, even the Royals beat guys link and refer to Fangraphs! (Here beat reporter Sam Mellinger aka Not Joe Posnanski breaks down Mike Aviles's struggles at the plate using contract numbers)

There is something bigger going on here, something Dave Burrows from Go Jays Go and I have discussed a few times over email. Are the MSM guys adopting a more bloggy or at least blog friendly approach because its better or because they think the audience wants it that way? If newspapers become just as dependent on ad revenue will they not become guilty of just as much page view baiting as the lowest common denominator blog? More on this at a later date.

At the end of the day, a more educated fanbase is likely to be a more dedicated fanbase. More fans = more money, more money = better team RIGHT BEEST?

Tonight in KC

Brian Burres goes tonight some time this goddamn week, hopefully for the final time as a Toronto Blue Jay. Gaps will be stopped and those that need filling will be filled by next week, I pray. Bryan Bullington hasn't exactly beaten the world in three innings, but his 5 strikeouts against 3 walks and 3 ground balls against 2 flies (and three line drives) come complete with the feeling he will get better, not worse. I'm rooting for you Bully.

Amazing image courtesy of Transguyjay's flickr stream

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Instant Access

More good stuff from the Canadian ambassador to Twitteronia, Jeff Blair. His latest blog post questions how long reporters will have access to clubhouses before and after games for unfiltered contact with athletes. He notes that a few scoops can be had in the locker room, it's mostly cat and mouse:
Everybody totes a tape recorder now to post-game interviews, and a savvy player knows that if drones on and strings out a few clich├ęs he can see eyes glazing, follow-ups evaporating. No attention is paid to nuance.
Blair adds that the lack of easy quotes leads to better writing and more wit. In other words: blogging.

At the same time, I'm seeing the value of access nearly firsthand. Walkoff Walk's Kris CTC Liakos continues touring Floridian complexes and continues to deliver great stuff. Maybe it just seems crazy to me because I don't have regular Gmail Chats Conversations with beat writers; but having someone with a similar sensibility interviewing players and offering his perspective seems hilarious yet awesomely fresh at the same time. Having him say stuff like "BJ Ryan is like a bull standing on two legs" speaks to me more than most journoporn ever could.

He INTERVIEWED ROCCO, FOR GOD'S SAKE. Among the more expected revelations (Rocco is a nice guy that was doing the NY Times crossword when Kris approached him) was Rocco giving the Blue Jays the one thing I really wish they'd get: credit. Regarding the American League East's status as the best division in baseball (emphasis obviously mine):
Well yeah, last year we had 4 teams that were playoff caliber teams. 4 teams that if the right scenario happened could have been World Series caliber. So you take 4 teams like that and you have them play each other 19 times a year, you beat up on each other. But there's no use complaining about it. I learned that a long time ago in Tampa. We weren't very good and we'd get beat up on by this division. It made it difficult, but that's the reality. Complaining isn't the way to go about it. You just grit your teeth and deal with it.
Sweet, glorious props. Rocco knows, Rocco knows.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Upside of Down

GRRRRRRMan, it's good to have Blair back on the Jays beat. Slurping Blair seems to be the bloggy move de rigueur this spring, luckily he brings the goods each and every day so we just keep on swallowing. Even if it's only temporary, his sweet truth seemingly comes free of agendas. Unfortunately, the Teller of Truths isn't imbuing me with a great deal of hope for the Blue Jays this season, dropping some somber quotes during his live blog today.
  • On the various ways the Jays big three prospects have been ranked: J.P.'s got too many enemies for that list to be legit all the time.

  • On Roy Halladay's future in Toronto. Will he re-sign, trade, or walk: I think he walks(!)

  • On Adam Lind: I'm not as sold on him as I am on Snider. I see him getting fewer at bats than we think.

  • On the outlook for 2009: I'll be honest: this could be the second-worst team in the AL, unless Snider goes off and Litsch wins 15 games. They need to replace a ton of innings from Burnett, McGowan and Marcum. He later added: Jays record in 09: too early. How about 70-75 wins?
Nothing we all haven't thought, but scary to see in print. A lot of talk around the team seems to gravitate to Adam Lind being traded, given Travis Snider's emergence. Another good quote from Blair regarding A.J. Burnett, whom he doesn't see as the big flake others purport him to be. My skepticism gets eaten my my cynacism when I read conflicting reports on player attitudes. It stink of the ancient Chinese proverb:
What's the difference between a slut and a bitch? A slut sleeps with everyone, a bitch sleeps with everyone but you.
As an aside, where do I sign for the Bryan Bullington bandwagon? I said a few weeks ago that I liked the signing, what with the high ceiling and all. If Arnsberg can reclaim him from the depths, is it safe to anoint him the miracle man? He looked today against a tough lefty lineup in Spring Training, so the jury's not even been summoned, let alone out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Small Town Hack has Jays Running Scared

The Rogers Centre press box portions are TOO FUCKING SMALLBeing a sports reporter in Collingwood, Ontario can't be too much fun. The occasional feature on the local minor junior F hockey team, its roster full of kids with brain cell counts in the low single digits due to the regional practice of getting high in the liftie hut from ages 13 to 35 inclusive, or a good ball washing of the one NHL player/Olympic skeletoner/former alcoholic ski coach at Blue Mountain that wanders into town twice a year. Sounds like a joyless existence. Such a sad state of affairs is the kind of thing that would drive you to flagrantly ripping off Snarlin Jeff Blair's article on the state of Toronto sports.

"Staff writer" Chris Fell takes the teams of the Big Smoke to task, labeling them wretched, horrible, awful, and terrible. He predictably tears into the Leafs and Argos, as if cheering for those teams isn't punishment enough. He accuses the Raptors of underachieving. Sure, fair, whatever. That isn't a good basketball team, not even BC himself believes otherwise. But Fell's description of the Toronto Blue Jays that got my attention: embarrassment. He calls the Jays an embarrassment! What could his reasoning be? How could a downright respectable baseball team, one that faces tremendous odds each and every year, done to embarrass itself? By award-winning staff writer Chris Fell's criteria, they've committed the crime of not spending enough money. They've sat around and watched their divisional rivals throw money around and done nothing, despite being owned by a big rich company. FOR SHAME ROGERS. You've been pwn3d by the ghost of John Updike.

Embarrassment? Regrettable maybe, but embarrassing? I'm not sure what is more embarrassing: winning more games than you lose in baseball's best division, obviously stealing a column from a national columnist, or MISSPELLING THE NAME OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ALSO KNOWN AS THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN THE WORLD. Fucking clown. Back to the Simcoe County junior girls volleyball beat for you, jackass. I'm sure Jennifer Gomes from Bradford won't be upset if you get her name wrong.


UBER-IMPORTANT UPDATE


BARACK (sic) OBAMA IS A WEST HAM FAN. HE CLOSED GITMO, LOVES THE EARTH AND SUPPORTS THE IRONS. HE'S DREAMY. I'm moving.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jeff Blair Shows What Side of the Bread He's Buttered On

Intelligent Journalists and Bloggers Stand Side by Side Against IdiotsSeeing as the Drunks are likely, well, drunk; I'll step in and give a slow, Brubaker-styled ovation to Jeff Blair. Watching Prime Time Sports as I write this, Jeff Blair is serving Mike Toth a savage beatdown with the truth stick. He asked Toth if he was on crack when he suggested that Gary Carter become the next Jays manager. He then demanded that Toth stand behind his suggestion, and offer reasons that he'd make a better field general than John Gibbons. A clearly rattled Mike Toth, sensing Blair's disgust with his very existence, tried to go cheap when he informed Snarlin Jeff Blair that "Gary Carter has two things you'll never have, a World Series ring and a plaque in the baseball Hall of Fame." Good points, Mike.

You'd be a fool to suggest that Mike Toth knows anything about baseball. I'm sure he knows plenty about junior hockey, or the Calgary Stampede, but not baseball. Jeff Blair, knows a lot. Blair and Wilner are the kind of journalists I enjoy most. They don't suffer fools or take shit lightly. Anyone who would criticize Wilner as a "know-it-all bully" is a weak-minded idiot. Of course he's a know-it-all, he's an expert in the field! His job is to know lots of stuff, even ALL OF IT. You'd prefer to call in, offer your inane, wrongheaded blather and have him congratulate you? You prefer living a life of ignorance and uninformed opinions over "learning" or "informing yourself on the topics of the day?" Well good, Mike Toth will keep "making show business" and encouraging you to plow forth without having thought about anything beforehand.

Update: You can hear the whole thing here, on the Prime Time Sports Podcast.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Sobering Look from Those on the Inside

Jeff Blair's surliness has clearly worn off on Robert MacLeod, as he picks the Jays to finish fourth in the American League East. MacLeod comes sexy pick in hand, with the Rays second ahead of the Yankees and Blue Jays. Fourth? Really? I'm all for knocking the Yankees down a peg, the aged house of cards that they are, but suggesting that dark horse will leap over TWO more experienced teams seems rich. He also picks Jacoby Ellsbury as his Rookie of the Year, which really makes me wonder. If ever there was a player poised for a complete let-down...

Reading over MacLeod's selections, there is a lot of hype/sex appeal behind the bulk of them. Though Brad Penny/C.C Sabathia Cy Young combo must be some sort of quarter-tonne discount. He should use my system: bias, conjecture and contrarian nonsense.

Blair goes on to parrot my prediction, a repeat of the 1986 World Series. This year's edition will feature Mookie Wilson selling concessions instead of hitting dribblers. He has the Red Sox coming out on top, which makes sense but I'd rather die than admit to that inevitability in a public forum. I will echo his sentiments and earmark Carlos Marmol as a breakout candidate.

The article mentions at length that JP may be out of time, and if the Jays don't catch the Yankees now, the influx of cash their new ballpark will provide may put the Jays in the rearview mirror for ever. Also mentioned is the emotional attachment between JP and Gibby, though JP is likely more emotionally invested in remaining employed.

Note: This may well be my last post, as my girlfriend just bought me an Xbox 360. See you in obese, antisocial hell.