By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ Tony LaCava is expected to be the next general manager of the Blue Jays.
Except LaCava, one of the Jays two current assistant GMs, will have that dreaded word added in front of his title.
LaCava will be the sixth GM in franchise history after Peter Bavasi, Hall of Famer Gillick, Gord Ash, J.P. Ricciardi and Alex Anthopoulos.
Where does new president Mark Shapiro search to find someone without the word interim?
Well, he is should be looking for both a short term and long term answer.
With both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion entering the final year of their contracts in 2016, the Jays certainly are not in any re-building mode. Their complete lineup returns yet the Jays need to build up their starting rotation as they try to repeat on this year’s post-season success.
Of the top busiest starters this season R.A. Dickey (33 starts), Mark Buehrle (32), Marco Estrada (28), Drew Hutchison (28), David Price (11), Aaron Sanchez (11) and Marcus Stroman (four), there are few lead-pipe, locks for rotation spots.
Price and Estrada are free agents.
The Jays have a $12 million option on Dickey.
Hutchison has made 30 starts once.
Indications are Buehrle will retire.
So, that leaves Stroman and Sanchez to go with Hutchison along with ...
Shaprio, who has been working in the Cleveland Indians presidential suite at Progressive Field, has not gone through the day-to-day workings of a GM since 2010. He needs an experienced man to help put a starting staff together quickly before this Bautista-Encarnacion window slams shut.
Not for us to suggest any possible selections but here are two excellent qualified man if we do dare say so:
_ Kevin Towers, 53, who has experience as GM of both the San Diego Padres (1995–2009) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (2010–2014), is now a special assistant with the Cincinnati Reds. Four times the Padres made the post-season losing the 1998 World Series to the Yankees and the Diamondbacks advanced once.
Towers is the man to usher in new arms.
_ Dan Jennings, 55, is a free agent. He was hired by the Miami Marlins in 2002, became assistant GM in 2007 and GM in 2013. The Marlins fired manager Mike Redmond and named Jennings manager. The Blue Jays were in Houston in May at the time of the change. One scout at Minute Maid sent Jennings a text “Congrats ... on your demotion.”
After the Marlins went 55–69, owner Jeffrey Loria fired Jennings. He is owed $5.6 million US on his contract. The Jays could probably pay him $500,000 with the Marlins paying the rest. That would fit into the Rogers Communications budget.
Both are experienced baseball men.
Now, if Shapiro goes down an analytical path ... that would be a different GM.
AVAILABLE: One scout breaks the free-agent starting talent into different tiers ...
The premier group includes Zack Grienke, Price, Johnny Cueto and Ryan Zimmerman.
The second group has Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, Estrada, Jeff Samardzija, Wei-Yin Chen, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jaime Garcia and Scott Kazmir.
And the third group?
“If you get this far down, you aren’t worrying about having a .500 season,” said one scout.
BRIEFLY: Good to see that Edward Rogers, of Rogers Communications, is embarking of a make-nice tour and is now open to any and all interview request from the media for full in-depth, interviews. We can see it next season Rogers appearing: on the dugout for the state of the union in January, on the pre-game show with Gregg Zaun, on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor and on the post-game show with Mike Wilner: “Wednesdays With Eddie.” ... Two names who could accompany Shapiro from Cleveland to the Jays front office are Eric Wedge, the former Indians manager, and/or Ross Atkins, vice president of player personnel. Wedge works for ESPN, while Atkins has been passed over in recent Indians front-office shuffles. Atkins was assistant to director of player development John Farrell, the former Jays manager.
FAREWELL: The old Founder’s Club at Rogers Centre was the sight of a going-away send-off for Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Friday. When president Paul Beeston hired Anthopoulos he said the young ‘un reminded him of a young Pat Gillick. Well, Anthopoulos became the first GM since Gillick to get the Jays into post-season play and like Gillick, an emotional Anthopoulos had the Kleenex box handy as speeches were made by Blue Jays and Rogers Centre staff.
They presented the out-going GM with a Rolex watch and a framed second base from Camden Yards, the night the Jays clinched the American League East title.
Anthopoulos turned down a series of offers from Rogers Communications when he decided working with Shapiro would not be a good fit.
While Friday was Anthopoulos and Beeston’s final day, Beeston will stay on to aid Shapiro with the transition period.
SERIES NUMBERS: Chris Young, Game 4 starter for the Royals. was trying to become the first pitcher with two wins in first four games of a World Series since Duane Ward in 1992 for the Jays. Young was the winner as K.C. won in 14 innings allowed two hits and two runs in four innnings ... Ward won Game 2 of the Series against the Atlanta Braves when he pitched a scoreless eighth and Ed Sprague hit a pinch hit two-run homer off Jeff Reardon ... And Ward pitched a scoreless ninth becoming the winner in Game 3 when Candy Maldonado singled off Reardon to bring home Robbie Alomar with the game winner with one out in the bottom of the ninth ... In lefty Steven Matz, the Mets Game 4 starter, you could have been watching next year’s National League rookie of the year. Yep, Matz is eligible next year because he only pitched 35 2/3 innings this season (50 1/3 innings are required to lose rookie status). It’s the least amount of innings for a World Series starter since Philadelphia Phillies Marty Bystrom, the Game 5 starter for the 1980 Phillies, also against K.C. Matz made six regular-season starts (4-0, with 2.27 ERA) is tied for fewest career regular-season games at the time a pitcher made is first Series start. He pitched five innings allowing two runs.
OCTOBER’S HEROS: Royals manager Ned Yost is in uniform for his eighth World Series one more Series than New York Yankee icon Derek Jeter. Yost was a catcher with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982, was a coach with the 1991-92-95-96 and 1999 Atlanta Braves and managed the Royals this year and last.
Yost had one Series at-bat. Taking over for Milwaukee all-star Ted Simmons he walked in the ninth inning of a 13-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.
Jeter had 173 plate appearances going 50-for-156 (.321).
The former Yankee shortstop has five Series rings, Yost has one with the 1995 Braves.
MEMORIES: The job of a lead-off hitter is to see as many pitches as possible and get on base.
Failing that and if he makes an out, he is supposed to report back to the dugout with a scouting report: “his curve ball is sharper than the last time we saw him” etc.
One night leading off Ralph Garr struck out on three pitches against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, the man with all the no hitters.
“What’s he got tonight Ralph?” someone in the dugout asked.
Now, Garr has a high-pitched voice.
Garr replied “what’s he got? What’s he got? This one’s over!”
PRE-GAME: Country singer Tim McGraw, son of the late Tug McGraw, the Mets Ya Gotta Believe reliever, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Tug pitched 19 years and had 180 saves, 86 in his nine years with the Mets.
GOOD NIGHT JOHN BOY: Returning to my luxurious penthouse hotel in the borough of Queen’s Friday night I was stopped by police.
“Sorry, they’re shooting a movie in the parking lot,” said the NYPD.
Ah, sorry I’m staying there and paying good money to do so.
Making it past the first sentry and other New Yorkers I was stopped by a big guy, argued with him and headed forward into the chill of an October night. Now, a little guy with a walkie-talkie said “there is going to be a bus come around this corner and you can’t ruin our shot.”
So, I stood there as the bus rolled into the parking lot.
“All clear, you can go now,” he said.
So, if you are watching an upcoming issue of the The Americans with Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Holly Taylor, Keidrich Sellati, Annet Mahendru and Richard Thomas of the Waltons fame, don’t look for a special guest appearance.