Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reading Between the Lines

Reading Between the Lines

During this week’s baseball meetings in Dallas, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has been more open than usual and while he hasn’t said anything specific, he has managed to say a lot. Contrary to previous reports and beliefs, the Blue Jays do have specific parameters to operate in financially – meaning there really is a budget. He also has made it known that nothing will be leaked from his office, and that if a team is publically attached to player, they probably aren’t in reality. And if you’re hearing a deal is done, be ready to welcome a new player to the Blue Jays (Welcome back Mr. Santos!). But you can hear all of that anywhere, what you might not pick up on, is everything that was said between the lines and how Anthopoulos AKA Mr. Stealth has become a master of using the media just as the media has been using him.

A lot has been said about the relationship between the media and the Toronto Blue Jays, and most of it has centered around the Blue Jays being used as a “go-to team” for rumour mongering, as the team’s policy of not commenting on potential trades or free-agent signings makes them the easy throw-in to any discussion. However, have the Blue Jays been using the media for their own gain as well? There have been some musings, although quiet, that leading up to the days the trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox was finalized that Nestor Molina’s profile was being bolstered. A day before the trade was announced, several people on twitter commented on how they hadn’t heard much about Nestor Molina all year, and now all of a sudden, he is everywhere they looked, bragging up his skills, abilities, and potential. This is rather convenient if you are attempting to sell that player for the biggest return, which is, arguably, what the Jays got in Santos – a young, controllable, high-ceiling impact player. Now I don’t know if this is tied to Anthopoulos at all, and I seriously doubt it would have impacted Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams decision in any serious way, but the coincidence is intriguing. The biggest effect the added Nestor Molina content probably had is giving White Sox fans easy access to a profile of what exactly was good enough to trade away their closer, who was credited with having the best out pitch in baseball in 2011, a very nasty slider, which is built up by his 4-seam fastball that sits around 95 mph - A tough pill to swallow, especially when your team’s GM follows it up with a confirmation that they are now in a rebuilding mode.

Further to Anthopoulos’s uncharacteristic openness, he shared that he felt the team would not be a player in the Prince Fielder chase because they would not go past a five-year commitment to him. This says a number of things, and I’m surprised this hasn’t been expanded upon yet (although maybe it has, I just haven’t seen it yet). Initially it appears as if Anthopoulos is going against his policy and saying that they are not interested in Fielder, which is how some have taken it, but what most see, and what I also see, is that Anthopoulos is saying that if Fielder’s market does become depressed enough that Fielder would be interested in a five-year deal, then the Blue Jays would be in. GREAT! Except that no, no it’s not. What most seem to be missing is that the reason the market for Fielder is slow right now, is for two reasons. 1. Albert Pujols is still available and 2. Fielder’s price and demands are still VERY high. So if it were to get to the point where Fielder is considering five-year deals, his market will explode, especially if Pujols is officially off the market, and at that rate, I can’t see the Brewers not stepping back in and matching/beating offers. I’m sorry Blue Jays fans, but Prince Fielder will not be a Blue Jay come opening day.

You can follow Brandon on Twitter @Bam_86. Hope you all enjoy the new banner!

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