December 2007

Whole Lotta Talk…

Bwm_header_07_1NASHVILLE — …and not a lot of action going on, as far as the Jays are concerned. Before I head out to find some dinner, here’s some stuff floating around and trying to stick.

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi acknowledged that he had talked to the Giants, but it was nothing major. Toronto has interest in Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, but SanFran is reluctant to deal them and Giants GM Brian Sabean is close to making the pair off limits.

Ricciardi said he had a couple meetings planned for Tuesday night, and the Jays have reportedly met with the agent for catcher Paul Lo Duca. It’s limited interest, though. As I’ve written plenty, Toronto doesn’t want to get wrapped up in a multiyear deal with a catcher with Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen rising fast.

Notice I put Diaz first there? Thigpen could be dangled as a trading chip, considering the Jays also have Brian Jeroloman and J.P. Arencibia as talented catching prospects climbing up the system. Ricciardi keeps singing the praises of Diaz and has said this offseason that the Jays are still trying to figure out how Thigpen fits best.

Ricciardi said he had "a couple hits" on Josh Towers, but he reiterated that he thinks Towers can help provide depth. I also don’t buy into the whole Jays being in on the Erik Bedard sweepstakes, either. They’d have to give up too much and the O’s will hesitate to deal him within the East.

As for losing out on Troy Percival, Ricciardi said it dealt more with adding depth to help with Casey Janssen’s potential move to the rotation than with any questions about B.J. Ryan’s pending return. Ricciardi said there’s no plans to go after any other relievers via free agency as of right now, but the Jays might add some bullpen help with a Rule 5 pick on Thursday.

Plenty of rumors about Alex Rios — some true, some not. That Cleveland rumor was completely false. The Giants probably brought him up, but Toronto is more interested in signing him to an extension than dealing him. Plenty of teams are going to ask about Rios — they should. That doesn’t mean the Jays are shopping him.

Ricciardi said teams have also inquired about Adam Lind. He also noted that, should Rios be moved (very unlikely), Lind would play in left and Reed Johnson and Matt Stairs would platoon in right field. Toronto can afford to offer its outfielders with the depth it has — like catching — and also because Travis Snider is rising fast, too.

That’s all for right now. There might be a few small tidbits I’m neglecting to mention, but I’m tired and I’m hungry. There will be more info on later tonight. How about that Tigers-Marlins trade? I didn’t see that coming.

Day 2 rumblings…

JohngibbonsNASHVILLE — The news is thin, but the rumors are starting to run a little wild here in Opryland.

The only big news regarding the Jays that’s come out that I can find is that managers will no longer be able to wear pullovers over their uniforms during games. Jays manager John Gibbons already was told last year to put his jersey on under the pullover, now he can’t even wear that. My guess is Gibby will be sporting a regular jacket if allowed.

Oh, yeah, those rumors. Well, apparently the Jays and Giants have talked about a potential deal that could bring either Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum to Toronto. It’s unlikely, though. San Francisco might ask for Alex Rios, who is basically off limits. The Jays would likely be able to pursue Lincecum, but he’s practically off limits. There’s not much room to budge there.

Toronto could offer third baseman Troy Glaus and a prospect, or use Adam Lind as bait, but I don’t see it happening. If the Giants were willing to take Glaus, I say go for it, but I don’t think that happens unless the Jays eat some of that hefty salary he’s got. One source said that Giants GM Brian Sabean is getting very close to declaring Lincecum and Cain both off limits. The time is now, if the Jays want to get it done.

The Indians reportedly approached the Jays about a deal for Rios that would send Frankling Gutierrez and Cliff Lee to Toronto. That’s not likely to happen, so let’s just move on. San Diego inquiring about Josh Towers? Sold. Any team that asks about Towers should be able to work out a deal with the Jays. It doesn’t sound like this is anywhere near the Pads’ front burner, though.

Toronto has also been tied to Baltimore and the Erik Bedard sweepstakes. One rumor was Alex Rios and Dustin McGowan heading East, but that doesn’t seem to make sense for the Jays. Again, the Jays are more likely to sign Rios to an extension than trade him. If they did trade him to the O’s, including McGowan might be too much. But the O’s will push for as much as they can get.

We haven’t met with Jays Gm J.P. Ricciardi, yet, and Sabean isn’t scheduled to talk to the media until tonight, either. So, more to come. Meanwhile, my right hammy is killing me and standing around waiting to talk to people isn’t helping. I had to skip the ol’ morning workout today and I was icing my leg last night. Not fun.

Back to the lobby…

Winter Meetings, Day 1

Bwm_header_07NASHVILLE — So Day 1 here in the massive Opryland Hotel is in the books. I’m still carrying a map of this place in my back pocket, but I’ve learned my way around the joint pretty quickly.

Sure, I have to hoof it over a few bridges, across the indoor river a couple times and work my way through the crowds, but all and all in ain’t too hard to navigate through this madness.

The Jays have been quiet all winter, but it’s sounding more and more like they might retool their roster via trades if given the right opportunity. Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi admitted today that the team would listen to offers for A.J. Burnett (he’s likely to opt out of his deal if he has a decent showing in ’08), is talking to "a couple clubs" about possible trades for a backup catcher and that the Jays aren’t done exploring other options for left field.

Personally, I think Reggie Willits of the Angels would be a good fit. He’s an on-base machine, switch hits, can lead off, play left and is controllable for another four or five years — nevermind the fact that the Halos have a surplus of outfielders. I’d hate to see Reed Johnson go, but he’s a free agent next winter, is an injury risk this season and is going to command a hefty salary.

Ricciardi said the team is still talking to catcher Sal Fasano, too, about possibly re-signing, and the GM said Toronto is hoping prospect Robinzon Diaz might be ready to join the Jays by June or July. Paul Bako has also been rumored as a potential target for the backup job.

As for Matt Clement, he’s getting a fair number of suitors and the Jays appear to only be interested if he agrees to an incentive-laden deal. Jeff Blair wrote in the Globe and Mail that he believes the Jays might be able to get in on the Erik Bedard trade discussions — them and everyone else, though.

In the same story, the Giants are reported to possibly have interest in third baseman Troy Glaus and SanFran has Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain as trade bait. I say, done. You never know what’s going to happen when the Mitchell Report comes out, or if Glaus can be the same offensive force after battling leg/foot injuries the last few years. If anyone shows interest in Glaus, with his salary and his other baggage, I think the Jays would be wise to consider moving him.

Ricciardi also said the Jays were in on Troy Percival, but only if it were a one-year deal. He signed for two at $8 mil with the Rays on Saturday. This begs the question, do the Jays really believe B.J. Ryan will be 100 percent by April? Why add a late-inning reliever to a stacked ‘pen if you think Ryan’s fine? I’m sure we’ll try to follow up on that.

Jays also lost Ty Taubenheim to waivers to the Pirates on Monday. Ty’s a great guy and I enjoyed working with him, so I personally was upset to see him go. But he’ll get a better chance in Pittsburgh and he did have a rocky tour with the Jays since coming over with Lyle Overbay in the deal with the BrewCrew back in ’05.

Jays removed Taubenheim from the 40 to clear a spot for Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. Ricciardi said the club has its eyes on a couple guys. Perhaps it could be a utility type guy to add to the mix for the final bench spot (they did that last year with Jason Smith) or an arm to add to the bullpen mix. We’ll see.

Jays_edited_4On Monday, the Jays also unveiled their new uni additions for this season. They wil sport the powder blues for Flashback Friday home games and the new grays on the road.

There were some trades that went down on Monday, though Johan Santana and Miguel Cabrera remain with the Twins and Marlins, respectively, for the time being. The D-backs sent Carlos Quentin the White Sox and the Nationals acquired Elijah Dukes from the Rays.

The Santana sweepstakes will carry on into the night and on over into tomorrow and throughout the Meetings — deadline set by the Yanks or not. I don’t buy the deadline thing. This is coming from the same club that said if A-Rod opted out they wouldn’t negotiate a contract with him. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I am about to wind my way through the maze that is this hotel and make my way to the light at the end of the tunnel — the Irish Pub. Nothing caps off a good day of standing around in a hotel lobby like a cold Killians in my hand.

Stay tuned for all that will be Day 2…

The Music City Miracle

WmcascadesNASHVILLE — That’s the only way to describe my journey from Toronto to Nashville today.

Making up for all the chaos (you loyal readers have heard plenty of my nightmarish traveling tale) was the view from my room at the Opryland Hotel. I took the picture on the right tonight from my balcony here. This place is ginormous. A personal GPS dohicky would certainly come in handy. All I know is I found a sports bar somewhere in this place (Lord knows if I can find it again) and I was able to watch some of the Bears game. Man, they’ve been terrible. But I digress…

I originally was supposed to fly out of Toronto and connect through Newark late tonight, when I’d land in around 10:30 pm. Well, that big stinkin’ snow storm had other plans. My flights were canceled and I managed to get on to a 6 am flight out of TO through Houston. Sure, I’d be flying out of the way, but it’s warm down there with no snow hindering my travel.

My flight was on time, but I was stuck downtown. I got up at 3:30 am and spent about a half hour trying to get a cab company to pick up the dang phone. I called four airport car services and none agreed to come get me because of the snow storm. One guy actually said, "You’re best bet is driving yourself." To which I replied, "If I could drive myself, why would I be calling a cab?" To which he laughed and hung up. Nice.

Finally, Mrs. Bastian came through in the clutch, rolling out of bed and finding some cab company I had never heard of online, calling them and getting me a taxi in about 10 minutes. I was about to run out in the snow and flag down a car myself — good thing I have a better half. So, after dodging spun out cars, tow trucks, and other various emergency vehicles, my cabbie got me to Pearson in about an hour (usually takes about 20-30 minutes).

Other than a slight delay to de-ice the plane, my flights went smoothly and I got here early afternoon, but maaaaan was I stressed out and in panic mode this morning. I’m far from being the only one who had an adventure. You can read about Mike Wilner’s (Fan 590) travel woes at his new blog. Anyone coming from the East coast, specifically the New York area, probably had some crazy problems, too.

BUT, the moral of the story is I’m here and the Winter Meetings are about to begin. Keep checking back here for updates and rumors and all that jazz. I was suprised to hear that the Red Sox might agree to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a potential deal to land Johan Santana. Obviously, the Santana sweepstakes is going to provide the bulk of the buzz down here. I doubt the Jays’ search for pitching depth or a backup backstop will generate much excitement.

Stay tuned for more…