October 2009

Wells-for-Bradley?

Bradley.jpgAccording to Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott, the Cubs and Blue Jays have discussed a possible trade that would send Vernon Wells to Chicago and bring Milton Bradley north of the border.

“It’s early on, but we think this one has some legs,” one Cubs official told Elliott. “But they aren’t the only team we are talking with.”

The Cubs are in a situation where they are under pressure to find a way to get someone to take Bradley off their hands. The Jays are in a situation where Wells’ contract is looking more and more the albatross as his performance has dropped.

For Toronto, such a swap would make sense in one way and one way only. It’d free up a huge chunk of salary (Wells is owed $107 million through 2014) and would bring in a short-term solution in Bradley (two years, $21 million left on his deal).

If such a trade did take place, it would be the second time Toronto was bailed out of a huge contract in a matter of months. In August, the White Sox agreed to assume everything Alex Rios was owed through 2015 after claiming him off waivers. If the Cubs were willing to take Wells’ entire contract, it might be tempting to pull off the swap.

But for Bradley?

To me, this wouldn’t fall in line with the much-emphasized philosophy of new Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Since taking over for J.P. Ricciardi, Anthopoulos has stressed the importance of building an organization with high-quality employees on and off the field. Given his history, Bradley does not fit that category.

Bringing Bradley to Toronto would seem to contradict all that talk. Beyond that, the Cubs  would suddenly have two of the most untradeable contracts (Wells and Alfonso Soriano) in the game if they pulled the trigger on this. So, given the size of Wells’ deal and Bradley’s history, I’m not sure this deal would happen.

It’s an interesting rumor, though.

~JB

UPDATE: Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune shoots down Elliott’s report. Sullivan has a Cubs source who says the deal has “no legs at all.” His source goes as far as saying the teams have not even discussed such a trade.

Cito maps out future

CitoBench.jpgAs you’ve probably heard by now, Cito Gaston has decided to retire from managing after the 2010 campaign with the Blue Jays. He has agreed to a four-year consulting agreement with the club beginning the following season.

For his final year on the bench, Cito’s staff will be as follows: Nick Leyva, bench coach; Bruce Walton, pitching coach; Dwayne Murphy, hitting coach; Brian Butterfield, third base coach; Omar Malave, first base coach; and Rick Langford, bullpen coach.

Former Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg — a Texas native — will be the new pitching coach of the Astros, who recently hired his good friend Brad Mills to be their new manager. Former Jays hitting coach Gene Tenace has elected to retire.

On Saturday morning, Gaston held a conference call with reporters to discuss his new role and the changes to his field staff. Here are some highlights of the discussion with Cito:

ON CONSULTING ROLE:

“It’s something that I certainly wanted to do. I always want to be a part of this organization, so it gives me the chance to do that. Also, I live in Florida and I have a place in Toronto, so it gives me a chance to not only be down here for Spring Training, but also be up that way during the season and look at the club and perhaps help evaluate it a little bit.”

“I just wanted to step back and take a look and see if I wanted to continue on managing and I just thought, ‘Well, I think maybe I can probably help the organization as far as being an advisor also, as well as managing, too. It’s something that I want to do in my life. Just step back and maybe do something different besides manage.”

ON WALTON REPLACING ARNSBERG:

“Bruce has done a good job down there and Bruce is a good guy. He’s a good baseball man and he’s very loyal to the organization and certainly to myself. I’m glad to have him aboard, so it’s good for him. I know he’s been waiting for the opportunity to get a chance to become a big league pitching coach.”

ON CHANGING BENCH COACHES:

“Nick and I have been around each other a long time. We’re just a little bit more on board with each other and I know Nick a little bit better than I know Butterfield. Butter does a good job there. … He works hard. I just thought it would be better for myself if Nick was my bench coach. He knows me a little bit bettter than Butterfield.”

ON POSSIBLY RETIRING THIS YEAR:

“No. I signed for two years. When you sign something, you should stick to it unless they don’t want you to stick to it, but it wasn’t that way. So, I felt like I signed for that year and I should live up to my contract and do what they asked me to do here. No, I never considered leaving for next year and taking the consulting role.”

ON YEAR-END CONTROVERSY PLAYING A ROLE IN CHANGES:

“I don’t think it had anything to do with that. I just believe Geno’s talked about leaving, as much as I have, to me. He talked about staying until next year and then decided not to. I don’t think that had anything to do with it, as far as him leaving or as far as Arnsberg not being here or myself not being here after 2010.”

“As I’ve said before, I still believe that — 50 percent of the players — that’s hard for me to believe, because you’re around people. If they dislike you that much, you’re going to feel it. I don’t feel like there’s 50 percent of the people in that clubhouse who feel that way about me, because I don’t treat them in that way. I try to treat people in the way that I want to be treated.”

ON TALKING TO GM ABOUT PLAYERS’ FEEDBACK:

“We will sit own and talk about those things. Hey, listen, I’m all for making things better. If there’s some way I need to lean to make it better then I will do that. If there’s something that I need to step up and say, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s a good idea,’ I’ll step up and do that, too.”

ON RELATIONSHIP WITH ARNSBERG:

“It was good, but a lot of times I didn’t have much [communication] with him as far as I had with the other pitching coaches. Brad was always, he’d pretty much sit down and talk with Doc most of the time. He did his job. He worked hard. He probably sees that he probably was going to be here one more year — he’s looking for more than that. He’s close to home and I’m pretty sure he’ll do a good job down there in Houston for those guys.”

ON CHANGES BEING NECESSARY:

“It could’ve stayed the same, but we’re always trying to improve the organization and do things better. That’s why the changes were made.”

ON COACHES COMING TO HIM WITH PLAYER ISSUES:

“As a coach myself, I never really felt like I wanted to be a coach to run back and tell the manager things that are going on out there are far as players. It’s almost like going back and telling on players. I don’t expect my coaches to do that, especially when my door is always open. You can come in and talk to me. I still feel that way. These guys can come in. If you’ve got a complaint, come in and sit down and talk to me about it and I’ll listen and we’ll try to work it out and make sure we get the right thing done.”

“I always felt like I was treating everybody properly. Sometimes, everybody’s not going to feel like you are, but if you sit down and you think about it and you can come up with anybody on that team that I didn’t treat properly, then I’ll listen. To me, I feel like guys got to play, I didn’t misuse anybody, especially my pitching staff. At the end of the season, a lot of guys didn’t pitch for a lot of days, but there’s reasons behind those things, too.”

ON EMPHASIZING OPEN-DOOR POLICY:

“I’m going to have that meeting — that’s for sure. I’m going to tell them, ‘Hey, come in and talk to me. Don’t be afraid to come in and talk to me.’ I’ve had guys come in and talk to me, but mostly it’s about personal things. No one’s come in complaining about their playing time or anything like that. I will encourage them to do that.”

ON HALLADAY:

“My gut is that I think Doc wants to be on a winning team — whether he comes back here next year or is going to be gone the next year. I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s probably going to do, because he’s probably sitting there looking at A.J. out there pitching, knowing that that’s where he’d like to be. It’s not about money with Doc. It’s about him being on a winning team. I can’t speak for Doc, but my gut feeling is if he’s here next year with us, then he’ll probably leave after next year. Hopefully, if that’s the case, then we can get something for him before he leaves.”

~JB

The World Series

Thumbnail image for Yankees.jpg
Thumbnail image for phillies.gifNow this is a Fall Classic: The Yankees and the Phillies. There are plenty of ball fans out there who despise these teams, but it’s hard to argue that this has the makings of a great World Series. The best from each league with two hostile environments and launching pads for stadiums.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how this one plays out – from my couch. This is the first year I haven’t worked any postseason games since 2006, but I’ve been having a blast spending time with my family and newborn son. Besides training for and completing the Chicago Marathon this month, Hayden has been keeping me plenty busy.

Just figured I’d throw a quick update on here since the blog and my twitter page has been pretty quiet as of late. Things will pick up after the World Series, when the offseason starts picking up steam. For now, I’ll leave you with some links to stories I’ve written over the past few weeks and my World Series prediction: Yankees in Six.

Blue Jays links:

Inbox: Who will fill the Jays rotation

Anthopoulos getting to know Jays

McDonald faces uncertain future

Inbox: Will Halladay stick around?

Anthopoulos hires assistant

Barajas in limbo as Jays reset

Jays continue to shake up front office

If you want to possibly be included in an upcoming Blue Jays inbox, send questions to bluejaysmailbag@gmail.com with your name and hometown. I’ll be aiming to do one of these each week throughout the offseason.

~JB

 

 

Game 162: Toronto at Baltimore

cito3.jpgBlue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that Friday was the worst day of his baseball life. By Sunday morning, as the Jays prepped to wrap up this rocky season, the manager was feeling better about the situation.

“Right now, sure, I feel a lot better,” Gaston said. “I feel a lot better that my players had nothing to do with it. I was just completely surprised to even hear that, because I know how I treat these guys. I know what kind of person I am and I know how I feel about guys on this club. Like I’ve said, there’s not a guy on this club that I dislike.”

Gaston woke on Friday to news that there was “mutiny” in his clubhouse, that players wanted him gone before next year. Anonymous sources in various reports cited negativity and a lack of communcation.

Players went on the record later that day and confirmed that there were some issues in need of addressing. But others said the extent of the issues were blown far out or proportion. It was not that the team did not want Gaston back, just that they had an assortment of team issues that needed to be discussed.

“Small issues turn into big issues and can ruin a season,” catcher Rod Barajas said on Sunday. “There were various small issues. It wasn’t one small issue. Just various issues that us as players felt like we had to get off our chest.”

As far as the original story, which made it seem like it was a team-wide revolt against Gaston, the manager believes the source came from outside the organization.

“Unfortunately, you have to go through something that somebody else planted here,” Gaston said. “I don’t think it came from my players and unfortunately we had to go through that and they had to go through it. And the person that did that, you know what? It will come back to get them in some kind of way. We might not ever find out who did it, but it’ll come back to get them.”

Gaston also found it odd that anyone would say he had an “old school” approach.

“Old school to me is when guys come to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to Sarasota, can I drive my car?’ ‘No, get on the bus,'” Gaston said. “Old school is to me if they need to go home to see their family or are having problems. Nope. Stay here. Old school is you can’t go home when your wife is having a baby. Old school is you certainly dont get your own jet and fly your family anywhere. That’s old school. We don’t have that school here.

“I guarantee you, when you’re not playing well, all kinds of stuff comes up. I guarantee if you go to those winning teams, they have problems over there, too. But they just are kind of overlooked because they’re winning. That’s the whole thing.”

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (75-86)
Fourth place AL East, 27.0

1. Jose Bautista, RF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Rod Barajas, C
7. Randy Ruiz, DH
8. Travis Snider, LF
9. John McDonald, SS

Starter: LHP Ricky Romero (13-9, 4.26)

Thumbnail image for Orioles.gifBALTIMORE ORIOLES (63-98)
Fifth place AL East, 39.0 GB

1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Robert Andino, SS
3. Matt Wieters, C
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Melvin Mora, 3B
6. Luke Scott, DH
7. Michael Aubrey, 1B
8. Lou Montanez, LF
9. Jeff Fiorentino, CF

Starter: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-17, 5.05)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

Game 160: CitoGate (Toronto at Baltimore)

Thumbnail image for cito.jpgThe overwhelming sense inside the Blue Jays clubhouse this evening was that a majority of players agree that there is a problem, the heart of the issue is manager Cito Gaston, and it needs to be addressed soon.

Said interim president Paul Beeston: “I don’t believe it.”

Said Gaston: “I’d really like to know what I need to change. That would be interesting. I’d like to hear it myself.”

Beeston is expected to be in Baltimore on Saturday and the players plan on holding a meeting to discuss the current issues. Gaston did not seem to believe that more than a handful of players were complaining. Center fielder Vernon Wells indicated it was more than half the room.

There is a serious gap there.

“Unfortunately you’re not going to have everybody that likes you on the team, that’s just the way it is,” Gaston said. “It doesn’t bother me that there’s some guys that don’t like you. There’s some guys that didn’t like me before, they come back and they like me in the end. It’s one of those things that you can’t do anything about, there’s not a guy on this team that I dislike.”

Read bluejays.com later for more…

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (75-84)
Fourth place AL East, 27.0

1. Jose Bautista, RF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Randy Ruiz, DH
7. Travis Snider, LF
8. John McDonald, SS
9. Kyle Phillips, C

Starter: LHP David Purcey (1-2, 5.28)


Thumbnail image for Orioles.gifBALTIMORE ORIOLES (61-98)

Fifth place AL East, 41.0 GB

1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Cesar Izturis, SS
3. Matt Wieters, C
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Ty Wigginton, DH
6. Melvin Mora, 3B
7. Michael Aubrey, LF
8. Lou Montanez, LF
9. Jeff Fiorentino, CF

Starter: RHP Jason Berken (5-12, 6.51)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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