Friday, 14 September 2012

Alex Anthopolus the Coupon Mom

Let's talk Alex Anthopolus. A lot of Jays fans worship the ground he walks on. He's a ninja, he can pull of deals like Houdini. Deals nobody even imagined could ever happen, because the story with AA is "if you've heard the rumour than it isn't true." And that has proven... true. Escobar did not get traded to Oakland, the Jays didn't get Yu Darvish, and Matt Garza and Justin Upton? Just dreams.

But i've been watching AA for a couple of years now, and this is what I have to say for him. AA is a coupon Mom. Perhaps you've seen the show while flicking by TLC- Extreme Couponing? Couponing has become a bit of a thing in the last few years. Crazed Moms spending hours clipping, and printing and then they get to the grocery store and fill six carts full of crap and then hold their breath at the checkout that they will only pay six dollars. At home, they proudly bring the cameras into their garage/basement/spare room to show off their "stock pile" - rows and rows of canned and bottled products that won't go bad for years and they got them "practically for free!"

Raise your hand if you're starting to get where i'm going with this.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find a few articles that were heavy in the quotes by the man himself. Most notably on Carlos Villeneuva and his outstanding performance this season. Yet somehow, the quotes were less than praiseworthy. In fact they were the exact opposite.

“There’s no question when he takes the ball he has done a great job. Obviously, part of the criteria, and that’s not to take anything away from him, but that’s the unknown with Carlos. He has never had 200 innings, he’s never had 32 or 34 starts. I think we’d all say we love what we see with what he has done for us. He’s a great teammate and all of those things but we’ve only had bits and pieces of him starting. Last year, when he had an extended look, very good for eight and then the other four there were some durability issues there. But I think the conditioning, I think he learned from that, he prepared himself better in the spring and so far he has done a very good job, he’s maintaining his stuff.”
“I guess I don’t want to use a term that’s derogatory to the player. I don’t want to doubt him. But I also have to be objective and realistic too. It’s more how do you value a player. And again, Brandon Morrow for example, we extended him last year, the year before he had 149 innings I think and we got him up to 180. We felt like, okay, he has shown us that he can get to that level. 180 is not 200 but he can get to that level and we felt comfortable at that point."

What am I hearing here? Given the interviews Carlos gave yesterday, exactly what Carlos heard. AA is not willing to shell out the bucks to keep him because he can't guarantee that he will be able to make 32 to 34 strong starts. Because it would certainly be the end of the world if AA paid him big bucks and instead of being a starter he ended up being "just" an above average long reliever in the bull pen.

Let's investigate the going rate for pitchers in the Blue Jays organization shall we?

-Ricky Romero will make 5.25 million dollars in 2012 and 7.75 million in 2013. Ricky Romero just lost his 13 straight start and has an ERA over six. And yes, he has had 32 to 34 starts, but he has also proven that there is no such thing as a sure thing in starting pitching.

-Brandon Morrow  will make 4 million in 2012 and 8 million in 2013. Morrow has proven one of the most consistent starters this season. Except that he's only pitched 99 innings, because he hurt himself and spent a few months on the disabled list.

-Dustin McGowan made $600,000 in 2012 and will make 1.5 million in 2013. Dustin has pitched 21 innings since 2009.

-Casey Janssen was signed to a 2 year 5.9 million contract for 2012-2013 as a reliever, long before we ever knew he would become a fantastic closer. He will make 2 million in 2012 and 3.9 Million in 2013.

In 2012, Villanueva made 2.27 million. He has pitched 111 innings, with 2 starts left in the season. He will end up pitching approx. 120 innings with an ERA under 4. In most clubs that makes him a standard number three starting pitcher. As a free agent for 2013, I would expect him to earn between 4-6 million in 2013.

Let's get back to the metaphor. AA is a couponer. He loves a good deal. And in his eyes, keeping Villaneuva is a not a good deal. AA is the type that hit every grocery store in town, and will buy 30 packs of no-name Mac and Cheese because it comes with a free bottle of ketchup. If you take a look at the minor and major league rosters of 2010, 2011, 2012 it is full of "good deals." Yunel Escobar was heavily discounted, and AA threw him in the cart. Colby Rasmus was also on sale, but the sale came with an asterisk which mandated also purchasing several soon-expiring options, none of which are still with the team. But its also full of fillers and a stock piles. Jesse Chavez, Scott Richmond, Royato Igarashi, Ben Franscisco are all cheap crap that ended up getting thrown away this season. AA is one of those coupon Moms who goes out to the garage just to look at his bookshelf full of salad dressing and canned ravioli. He marvels at his brilliance in snapping these things up practically for free, and the possibility of numerous salads and microwavable dinners in the future. But the long story is, one can only eat so much ranch dressing and canned ravioli. Some of those items will end up in the trash or giving AA botulism. His obsessive money saving, ninja deals may seem valiant from a distance, but up close, it may be what stops this team from ever making it to the post season.

How many times have we heard it? You have to spend money. You have to spend money. And AA refuses to do it. Next year, when Villanueva pitches 150 innings somewhere else, I hope he pauses to think. But he probably won't. He'll be maniacally driving to every grocery store in town with a mitt full of coupons.