Anthopoulos chats with Blue Jays fans
Toronto GM discusses Halladay trade, prospects and more
Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos chatted with fans on about the Roy Halladay trade and prospects for the Blue Jays in the future. This chat had more participants than any other Blue Jays chat.
Alex Anthopoulos: Glad to be communicating one on one with the fans. Excited to hear your questions. Looking forward to answering some of your questions.
budski23: Alex, you are in your early 30's, and you are a GM of an MLB team. Be honest with me, was there a time this week where you said to yourself, "Oh my gosh, I just traded Roy Halladay!!!" Is part of this a little unreal to you right now? Sounds like an amazing ride!
Anthopoulos: Haven't had a chance to catch my breath enough to reflect on trading Roy Halladay. Certainly trading someone of his caliber doesn't feel so great but I understand the circumstances we were faced with and the alternatives. We're very please with what we were able to get back in the trade especially considering the circumstances.
jaysgold: What is your relationship with J.P. [Ricciardi] been like since you became GM. I know he hired you, so was that whole thing weird?
Anthopoulos: There is no question it's weird when you take over for a friend. But I consider myself to be a loyal person and once you're my friend, you're always my friend.
paddlepop: Al -- Please do NOT trade [Travis] Snyder! Thank you.
Anthopoulos: We love Travis Snider. No idea where these rumors are coming from. We think he's going to be an impact middle order at bat and in addition he has such a tremendous makeup he could be a great leader on this team one day.
willtheway: Hi Alex, thanks for chatting! I guess you guys really liked [Brett] Wallace, as the Jays drafted him in 2005 originally. What is it about this kid you like some much, why would two other organizations give up on him if he is such a great talent?
Anthopoulos: I've been asked that a lot on why he has been already been traded twice and I think that you have to look at the players that he has been traded for to make an honest evaluation. Matt Holliday and Roy Halladay are two of the best players in the league and Wallace has been a guy that was a must in most of those trades. We're very excited about his bat and we think that he can impact the middle part of the lineup and we've already been asked about him in trade.
husker45: Alex, there were lots of crazy rumors floating around on Wednesday. Is it true that Wallace failed the physical, or was it [Michael] Taylor?
Anthopoulos: Not true that anyone failed on our end. Can't speak for Taylor as we didn't examine him -- Oakland did. With respect to our physicals we get MRIs on shoulders and elbows and it's a time consuming process so the deal was slowed down because we had three players flying from different parts of the country to get examined.
whit201: Now that it has been confirmed that Cito [Gaston] is only back for one year, have you started to think about who the next skipper would be? Would you think about someone that is already on the staff or in the organization or would you look outside?
Anthopoulos: It's something that we're going to start to examine when we get to Spring Training. My first order of business with respect to this is to talk to the other 29 GMs and a few other select former GM to get their feedback on their process of hiring managers. In doing so, I'm going to ask for the recommendations from each organization and start to compile a list. I plan on using every method to gather information on every candidate whether it is front office, clubhouse guys, players, other coaches in the process. We're fortunate enough to have a season where we can do the homework on all the candidates.
garfoose: Is there's any truth to the rumor of the new Jays mascot being a Garfoose?
Anthopoulos: [Blue Jays pitcher] Dirk Hayhurst!! Talk about a super-fan!!! Just got your Christmas card in the mail. You and your wife look great in the moose outfits! Or should I say Garfoose outfits?
havefait5: Chad Jenkins seems to be coming along pretty well. What are your thoughts on when we will see him on the big club? Also, do you see him as a closer?
Anthopoulos: We're excited about Chad Jenkins and we were thrilled to get him in the first round last year. He looked good in the instructional league. In regards to time line that will be up to Chad. We don't want to put any expectations on him.
youtubber: I noticed at the press conference that you said [Kyle] Drabek would start at Double-A New Hampshire. Don't you think he is at least ready for Triple-A [Las] Vegas? Curious on why you thought that right away.
Anthopoulos: You know right now without having Drabek in camp our thought is that he starts in Double-A because he finished there. That being said, if he will have the opportunity to compete in Spring Training whether it is for the Major League team or for the Triple-A rotation. We are certainly not putting any restrictions on where he starts -- that will be up to him.
Kev13: When you were trading Roy Halladay, I'm sure you had many choices of prospects to choose from. Did you have a choice of J.A. Happ or Kyle Drabek?
Anthopoulos: Kyle Drabek was a target for us and a must in this trade. Philly was very reluctant to give him up but over time they relented.
Big_Jays_fan: Do you think it will worth to trade our young pitching (like Cecil, Stewart etc) for missing pieces, knowing that you can never have enough pitching?
Anthopoulos: Our young pitching is very sought after and though we'd like to keep all them I'm very open to moving any player if it can make us better in other areas.
bigbat80: With the big Halladay deal done, are you planning on taking a little time to yourself for the holidays?
Anthopoulos: This job is 24/7. And, I don't think you ever take time. I'm getting married in January but I've already prepared my fiancee that I will be on my Blackberry quite a bit when we go on our honeymoon. I'll always continue to explore trades to make the team better. It never stops for me.
mpjohn: What is your favourite restaurant on the Danforth?
Anthopoulos: Finally! A Greek question!!! If you want meat go to Kalyvia, if you want seafood go to Pantheon, and if you want the best Greek dessert I've ever had go to Avli and order the bougatsa.
badger81: I saw you answered a few questions in French Wednesday at the press conference. Do you expect more attention from the French media now that they know you are bilingual?
Anthopoulos: I think if I do it's a good thing. It shows the popularity of the team exists outside of Ontario. I strongly believe that there is a passionate baseball fan base across Canada and it's up to us to continue to bring them out to support this team.
Gimpster: How does the Red Sox signing of [John] Lackey this offseason affect the Jays strategy for the compensation draft picks Toronto gets for Boston's [Marco] Scutaro signing?
Anthopoulos: It moves us from getting Boston's first round pick to their second round pick which in reality is not that big of deal when you consider that Oakland almost signed Scutaro and would have given us their second round pick.
billybob29: Now that you are the GM of the Jays, what has surprised you the most about the new role?
Anthopoulos: Learning to manage my time a lot better. Much more media requests which I understand are important because they are the conduit to the fans.
The_Bunk: Hello Alex, I've always believed that the draft is undervalued, baseball is the only sport where players are controlled for so many years and for so cheap. I love what you have done with the scouting department, will you be going overslot in the draft?
Anthopoulos: The draft is going to be a critical avenue for us with respect to continuing to build this team. With potentially nine picks in the first round we believe we can really flood the Minor League system with high end talent. In terms of going over slot we have a system now in place that will put a dollar value on each draft eligible player, if we can come to terms with respective agents and our values we expect to sign most of our players.
RIPEXPOS: With the additions of Drabek, Wallace, and D'Arnaud assumably shoring up the future in the rotation, first base and at catcher, what positions/skill sets (OBP etc) do you think still need to be addressed, and how could you go about doing so?
Anthopoulos: We still need to address several long term positions on the diamond. I'd say the left side of our infield is an area we continue to evaluate and we're always looking for more pitching.
m_taylor: Alex, love the trade. With this deal done, is there any specific need you will be focused on with your first few picks in the upcoming draft?
Anthopoulos: Thanks. In terms of the draft, we'll always look at taking the best player available irrespective of position. Things change so quickly in baseball and with amateur players it's too difficult to forecast where they will be 3-6 years in the future.
nelson_c: Alex, there has been some criticism of the Jays farm teams not providing nutritional education to the players. Have you identified nutrition and training at the Minor League level as a goal moving forward?
Anthopoulos: Great question. We addressed improving the nutrition at the big league level last year and I've talked to our Minor League trainers and strength coaches about doing so in the Minor Leagues. MLB rules dictate that club pay their players $20 a day for meal money, we've already instituted a policy to increase that to $25 a day in addition to having our strength coaches work with clubhouse people to provide nutritional and healthier options for our players.
BigHurt_2: What is the plan for Zach Stewart this season? Do you see him as a starter or reliever long-term?
Anthopoulos: We see Zach Stewart as a starter. All of our scouting reports project him to be a #3.
Callum: Who do you credit with showing you the scouting ropes? Is there one thing amateur scouts should look for when evaluating talent?
Anthopoulos: There are a lot of people that have helped me along the way. I think its important to be passionate and willing to learn. I spent a lot of time on the field when I worked in Florida and spent a lot of time watching videos of past draft eligible players. Scouting is my true passion.
corkedbat22: Hi Alex! Great job so far coming into a pretty tough situation. My question: Are you at all concerned about who's going to be hitting in the leadoff spot in 2010 and maybe 2011? I'm not sure I see a clear leadoff man on the current roster. Thanks.
Anthopoulos: Always looking to improve the offense. And, losing Marco Scutaro in the leadoff spot is certainly going to be difficult. As the roster stands right now, Jose Bautista would be the best candidate for the leadoff spot. We continue to explore improvements and potential trades.
agoodfella: Congrats on the Halladay deal. Is Wallace at 1B a certainty or will you see how he works out at 3B before deciding?
Anthopoulos: We think Wallace is capable of playing third. But, we see him being an above average defensive first baseman. Our hope is to have a strong as a defensive club as we can and putting players in a position where they have a chance to impact the club in the best way defensively.
Cruzfan: Hi Alex, I very much admire the path you took in getting to a Major League front office. This is a classic example of someone realizing a dream through sheer hard work and dedication. That said, how do I become the next Alex Anthopoulos?
Anthopoulos: It's going to sound cliche, but if you want something and really have a passion for it, pursue it. Don't worry about the money, or time commitment. I'm a firm believer if you love something, you'll excel at it. If I was to say the most important trait to have starting out in sports it would be humility and hard work. Those two qualities alone should get you very far.
jayzball: Hi Alex, just wanted to clarify something here. We've heard in the media recently that the $16 million dollar figure is being thrown around when talking about the draft. Is this a planned budget for player bonuses for the draft?
Anthopoulos: Ownership is fully committed to spending the resources necessary to acquire the best amateur players. I know a lot has been written about how much money we have to spend but there are so many layers to our budgets if the value is there our ownership has assured us that we will have the resources necessary.
qtip1974: Congrats AA. In the next bargaining agreement I'd like to see teams able to trade draft picks in future deals. Your thoughts?
Anthopoulos: I'm all for more flexibility in trades. I think the restrictions that are currently in place in terms of trading draft picks are over concerns that agents can manipulate the draft. From a personal perspective, anything that makes trades easier is something that I am in favour of.
jp72: Are there any short or long term concerns regarding Drabek's Tommy John surgery?
Anthopoulos: No concerns at all. We ran him through a full physical complete with MRIs.
nearyj: Acquiring young, controllable talent seems to be the focus of the offseason for the Blue Jays. What are your thoughts on Cuban defect, Aroldis Chapman? Several teams watched him pitched last week. Were there representatives from the Jays there?
Anthopoulos: Yes we had Roy Smith and Gary Rajsich watch Chapman pitch this past Tuesday. We will be on top of every amateur player that is available.
mopet: Are you worried about the heavy workload that Toronto's young starting pitchers will have now that Halladay can't eat up innings anymore. Aren't you concerned some of them might get injured again (Marcum, Litsch)?
Anthopoulos: We certainly monitor the innings for all of our starters and it is something that we are cognizant of. We have processes in place to protect the long term health of our younger starters.
torblue15: Hi Alex! I am interested in your thoughts of the direction that baseball is taking in regards to sabermetrics: ie. the "Moneyball" numbers.
Anthopoulos: I think its important to use every ounce of information that is available to us as an organization. Both statistical analysis and traditional scouting are key components in making player evaluations.
snbremang: Which prospect that we received do you expect to make a Major League impact first and when?
Anthopoulos: I'd say both Drabek and Wallace are very close. But we don't want to put expectations with respect to a time line on them arriving in Toronto. Since Wallace got to Triple-A last year, you could argue that he is the closest but with Drabek having good success in Double-A last year, he could certainly come fast as well just like Jesse Litsch did.
monkeyarmy: Are you concerned over the potential negative effect of not supplying the media with information. During the trade negotiations, it seemed as though the Toronto beat reporters had nothing to report, while the national U.S. columnists had accurate information.
Anthopoulos: It's important to me that I treat everybody fairly and also extremely important that I don't lie to anybody. That being said, with the nature of these jobs its very difficult to be completely candid. So, if I'm faced with lying or not commenting, I'll choose to not comment every single time. Also, over the years that I've been a part of trade talks, I've seen a lot of trades fall apart because of reactions to reports in the media. I certainly understand that there is interest from the fans and the media is just doing their jobs but from my perspective it makes it easier to do my job which is to make the best trades and signings that we can.
jsfan4life: Alex, you really are doing a terrific job of developing a game plan and sticking to it to make the Jays a winner again. There was talk after the season that you'd likely bring on a senior advisor to yourself. Is that still a plan?
Anthopoulos: Definitely something that is still on the radar. I have a list of candidates that I plan on talking to after the arbitration deadline of January 19. It's important to me that if I do bring somebody in that it will be a significant role. I continue to evaluate it and I'm not sure if we will ultimately hire someone in that capacity.
titou51: Alex, what is your take on the importance of speed on the basepaths? It seems that in recent years, aside from Rios, there was a lack of stolen base threats in the everyday lineup. Is this a specific area that you will try to upgrade when adding to your young core?
Anthopoulos: I think speed is important because it plays in any ballpark. There is no question we would like to add some speed to this team but we need to make sure that we add the right players that bring that element to their game.
clydeguy: What are the plans for Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens, will they repeat A-level?
Anthopoulos: Right now we expect both players to be in A-ball next year. Jackson is recovering well from shoulder surgery, while we expect Ahrens to bounce back and have a strong season.
jsfan4life: Have you had a chance to speak to the players acquired in the Halladay deal?
Anthopoulos: Yes, I've spoken to all three players and expressed to them how happy we are to have them in the organization and what we saw there roles being going forward.
jp72: Do you think there is still a stigma from American players not wanting to play for a Canadian team (aside from the dollar issue)?
Anthopoulos: I think there is a perception that some players have a reluctance to play in Canada. My experiences have been that almost all of our players and their families love the city of Toronto and playing here for our fans.
piper11: Hi Alex. I know you were not the GM at the time, but if the organization is focusing on bringing in young talent, why did so many draft picks go unsigned last year.
Anthopoulos: Unfortunately the organization has to make decisions with respect to the value of players. It's important to note that the only players that went unsigned were those where we would receive the draft pick back in 2010. Ideally we sign all of our picks but we also need to stay disciplined with the value system that we have in place.
Anthopoulos: Thanks for all of the great questions. I wish I could have answered more of them and I've been very impressed with the passion you all have shown. Look forward to seeing you at the park in 2010. For the Francophone fans, "Merci Beaucoup." For the Greek fans, "Merci Beaucoup!"
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.