I just realized, even though I am up to my armpits in wet snow, that pitchers and catchers report in under two weeks. That means the long and dark time without baseball is nearing its end.
A lot of things are happening after a long period of inactivity. Actually, not a lot of things are happening, there is just more talk so it seems more things are happening.
It's been a very quiet off season for the Jays. It's been a quiet off season for most teams, save the Yankees. The Yankees are once again trying to prove how evil they are by spending all the money. Piles and piles of money. Their haul now includes Masahiro Tanaka, the much sought after pitcher from Japan. It's a seven year deal (with a year four opt-out) worth 155 million dollars. And, for whatever reason, I just can't get worked up over it. They still lost Cano.
The only thing I am going to worked up over is that the Jays lost every series in the Bronx last season. Every single game. The Yankees had close to the same record as the Jays versus everyone else, but killed them in the season series. That needs to not happen. It's imperative. I'd argue that the season depends on it.
Jack Morris has gone back to Minnesota, even though they hate him and told Jays fans how much he sucked, thus lowering our expectations and making us cry even more about the loss of Alan Ashby. But Morris turned out to be awesome. I'm not going to begrudge a man going home (Morris is a native of St. Paul, one of the twin cities the team is named for) but I'm going to miss him. I liked his no nonsense approach and his storytelling, which complimented Jerry Howarth's folksiness quite nicely. Above all, I'll always appreciate Morris for this:
“I went up to Salty and I told him,” Morris said. “He said, ‘It’s dry in Boston, and I’ve seen him put water all over his pants.’ I said, ‘Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo.’ He didn’t know what to say to that, so we ended the conversation right there.”
And thus, a legend was born. Also, it's dry up in Boston? I've spent some time re-reading a bunch of things written at the time and it was all pretty fun. And then the Sox went and won the World Series. That was less fun.
Also jumping off the Rogers Broadcasting Merry-Go-'Round is Dirk Hayhurst. One of the things I found interesting about Hayhurst is he seemed to take on the tone of who ever he was working with. He'd get folksy with Jerry Howarth, which drove me bananas, but he would take on the crustiness of Jeff Blair on Baseball Central, which I found much more enjoyable. I've enjoyed his books and I guess I'll miss him. I do remember disagreeing with Hayhurst about something (maybe keeping Anthony Gose and jettisoning Colby Rasmus) and I discussed it with my dad. And my dad gave me this:
"Just because he wrote an interesting book doesn't mean he knows what the f*ck he's talking about."Yeah.
As to who will replace Hayhurst and Morris, it's pretty open. Some have suggested this guy. I'm going to consider that an audition reel.
The State of the Franchise event was sort of bland, as events with pre-screened questions tend to be. It was mostly a rehash of "Five year contracts" and "The pitching. My god, the pitching!!!" and a ridiculous question about signing Michael Young. That questioner, who likely has had season tickets since 1977, had his dreams dashed when Michael Young announced his retirement a day later. The event would be so much more exciting if they didn't pre-screen the questions and let the people drink beforehand.
The vast expanses of grey concrete visible with the turf pulled up warmed the cockles, didn't it?
Pitching remains a big concern. Anthopoulos has mentioned several times he wants to see how the market shapes up before making any offers to pitchers, notably Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Emerging as a bit of a wild card option is AJ Burnett. The idea of bringing him back is pretty crazy, but it's the kind of crazy I'm interested in. It's a long shot, as I think the only AL East team with a shot is the Orioles as Burnett lives in Maryland and has a wife who hates to fly, but as Ben Nicholson-Smith argues Burnett just might be the best option:
Burnett would be a major upgrade for most teams, including the Blue Jays, if he sustains his recent production. In fact, it’s easy to make the case that Burnett has out-pitched the other top free agents. In 2013, he led Jimenez, Santana and Arroyo in categories such as wins above replacement (4.0), strikeout rate (9.9 K/9), ground ball rate (56.5%) and — even at age 36 — average fastball velocity (92.5 m.p.h.). Over the course of the last three seasons, Burnett leads the group in wins above replacement, strikeout rate, ground ball rate and home run rate.Plus, he's just so darn flaky. He's a gift to bloggers everywhere.
But for several reasons, mostly because I never get what I want, I'm not getting my hopes up. As Richard Griffin puts it:
"It's hard to go back in time. Remember, Burnett left the Jays to sign with the Yankees to be closer to his Maryland home. He still wants to pitch with the same familial proximity and he will be asking for more 2014 money in a one-year deal than the Jays will have to pay annually for either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. Or in fact for several other of the remaining free agents on the starting pitcher list still available. A.J. won't happen."
The "Ian Kinsler trade to Toronto veto" story has had some legs. Shi Davidi reported that Kinsler vetoed a trade to Toronto before the trade to Detroit for Prince Fielder happened. The deal would've included Encarnacion, and for that price, I don't want to do it anyway. I want to add a pitcher and a second baseman, not subtract necessary power.
People pearl clutched about the idea that Toronto was rejected while Detroit was accepted, but Ken Rosenthal reported that Kinsler wasn't even approached about a deal to Toronto.
So relax, Toronto. No one called your baby ugly.
Justin Verlander snuggles up with Kate Upton, proving, once again, it pays to be a King of Earth. But I have so many concerns. The satiny, magenta pants? The shirt open to the third, "douche" button? Nice teeth, though. Justin, your grin is approaching "shit eating."
And finally, RIP PSH
Addiction is the worst. Looking over his body of work, it's clear that Hoffman was a crucial part of some of the best movies of the last 20 years. That's him as Art Howe in Moneyball and watching that movie, the guy has the physicality of a big league manager down. It's more than just the body, it was how he carried himself. It's on Netflix if you have somehow never seen it. Brad Pitt eats a lot in it.