Anthopoulos & Co. talk 2014
* GM Alex Anthopoulos, club president Paul Beeston, and manager John Gibbons were on hand Wednesday night to answer fans’ questions at the annual State of the Franchise event at Rogers Centre. ….
By Andrew Hendriks
The annual Toronto Blue Jays’ State of the Franchise event was held Wednesday evening at Rogers Centre, and season ticket holders got the opportunity to have their questions answered by a panel of team officials.
An estimated 1,000 fans poured through the gates at One Blue Jays Way, and the panel — consisting of general manager Alex Anthopoulos, club president Paul Beeston and field boss John Gibbons — candidly answered questions beneath the 100 level.
As is normally the case, Anthopoulos took center stage. The Montreal native fielded a barrage of inquiries regarding where he envisions the team going in 2014 and what steps are being taken to improve on a dreadful last-place finish in 2013 in a year that promised so much more.
“In terms of free agents, we’re having dialogues with a lot of players right now,” Anthopoulos said. “Are we pursuing any position players? I would say no, but we are open-minded, and in the right context with the right dollars and years, if we can make an upgrade we would look to do it.”
The right context would likely be a right-handed platoon bat that could spell Adam Lind at first base against left-handed pitchers, while leaving Edwin Encarnacion to remain in the lineup as the designated hitter. Another potential upgrade would be at second base, where Ryan Goins and newcomer Chris Getz are the current options.
When asked about the slow offseason, Anthopoulos pointed to the new collective bargaining agreement as one reason for the lack of movement regarding some of the big-name free agents.
“This is the second year of the new CBA with respect to the draft compensation changing,” Anthopoulos said. “Last year, the only guys that were out there were [Kyle] Loshe and [Michael] Bourn, and Loshe got a deal shortly before the start of the season.”
With the new CBA, teams that sign a compensation-eligible player (such as Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez) must forfeit their first-round selection and or a second-round selection if they have a pick within the top ten.
As for his current roster, Anthopoulos says he feels comfortable heading into the 2014 campaign.
“We’re excited about some of the guys coming back, especially the young guys and the upside they have,” he said. “At the same time, we’re still going to be active and try and get a starter.”
As it stands, Toronto’s rotation currently features only R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle as locks to open the year. Other options include Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers and J.A. Happ.
“We have a lot more depth [in 2014],” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We have some good options. Some of those younger kids we’re talking about I expect to see sometime in the near future. They’re all very talented.”
Those younger kids include Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek, two of which are returning from Tommy John surgery. For Drabek, it was his second procedure since being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006.
As far as expectations are concerned, Beeston says he knows the team dropped the ball in 2013.
“We spit the bit,” Beeston said, noting that if Toronto wants to remain among the top six teams in American League attendance, the club will have to perform better on the field going forward.
“There’s a bit of a credibility gap that we have to get back to with our fans,” Beeston said. “But if we can cross that bridge, I think we’ll be okay. We measure our success in wins and losses. We want to be playing meaningful games in September, and we want to be playing in October.”