The End of the Winter: It's difficult for us to get a decent read on yesterday's conference call with the GM, given that we picked up on it via a handful of tweets that came blasting into our mobile device once we re-entered cell range. There was a tone of resignation that came across in some the subsequent reports, with Alex Anthopoulos seemingly admitting that there wasn't much left that the Jays could reasonably accomplish, while at the same hinting that there's more that he'd like to do.
To us, the most salient quote that we read from yesterday's chinwag (as conveyed by Sportsnet.ca's Mike Cormack) was this:
"There are a lot of things we could have done this past off-season to say that we did it, but I don’t think they would have been good timing or good trades for us…I think they would have been bad."
While there are still some fans who have visions of "proven" "big bats" dancing in their heads, we appreciate the discipline that the front office is demonstrating at this point. They seem to know that there are improvements that could be made in a few areas, but they're not going to allow themselves to operate "on tilt", making dumb moves for the sake of "showing something to the fans". That's how teams end up trading for Vernon Wells. Or how someone is going to find the rationale to acquire Alfonso Soriano.
We realize prudence and forbearance aren't the things that are going to get those who are exclusively focused on a playoff berth revved up for the new season, but we've started to realize that those kids are never going to be happy, so trying to satiate their unending desire to spend someone else's money is a losing battle.
Sneaky Bullpen Signings: Even with their impressive numbers, Sergio Santos' and Darren Oliver's names were nowhere to be seen on the wish lists of fans at the conclusion of the season. And yet, those additions, along with the repatriation of Jason Frasor, will give the Blue Jays a much stronger and deeper bullpen.
Santos, Oliver and Frasor will be joined by a number of intriguing bullpen options, including Casey Janssen, Carlos Villaneuva, Joel Carreno, Jesse Litsch and Luis Perez. Moreover, there are a number of fringe arms that have the potential to contribute next season, including Trystan Magnuson (quietly reacquired in November from Oakland), Danny Farquhar and Alan Farina may fill in where injuries or performance necessitate changes.
The bullpen was probably the most glaring area in need of a fix coming into the offseason, and it appears as though the Jays have managed to find solutions for 2012. And as someone who was not always a fan of John Farrell's bullpen management last year, we'll be interested to see how he acquits himself with a stronger collection of arms at his disposal.
As for the line that was tossed about concerning Darren Oliver's league-leading intangible awesomeness in the clubhouse and his recording-setting camaraderie, the line that kept running through our head as we read those remarks were: "He has a great personality." Which is not the sort of praise about which we get excited.
Jays in Ottawa: It's somewhat well know that we make our home in the national capital, and while we weren't around for the arrival of the Winter Caravan this weekend, we were impressed with the turnout of Blue Jays fans who flocked to a local mall and lined up for hours to meet their heroes.
There's a nice video summation of the trip on the Blue Jays' website, though those who are fans of Toronto pro hockey franchise might want to avert their eyes about midway through, when the boys sport the Ottawa Senators' nifty retro jerseys. (And even if our loyalties lean towards our hometown team, we'll give J.P. Arencibia credit for demonstrating a certain amount of discomfort at wearing the uniform of his beloved #TeamUnit's rivals.)
We'd probably be getting way ahead of ourselves to hope that this augurs well for the return of an affiliated minor league team to the Capital, since support on a single winter's day doesn't mean that you'll be able to sell 250,000 tickets per year. Still, an Ottawa baseball fan can dream.