As did everyone else.
Anthopoulos of course made an August visit to scout right-hander Yu Darvish, while assistant GM Tony LaCava saw Darvish pitch twice. Darvish has yet to have his contract posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. Once it is, clubs will submit bids and only the highest bidder can negotiate with him.
“Yu is a very talent starter,” Anthopoulos said. “As for my impressions, I’d rather keep them to myself until his contract is posted. I did enjoy the game from batting practice to the game itself to the passion of the crowds.
“The (fans) are in great shape. They were jumping up, chanting, singing until the final out. I don’t know if people could do that here. It reminded me of a European soccer game.”
The Jays have never had much of a presence in Pacific Rim countries. Former GM Gord Ash and international scout Wayne Morgan went 10 years ago and were stranded for days because of to 9/11.
Scout Rob Ducey was given Japan as his territory under J.P. Ricciardi — hello 14-hour flights — but the Jays never signed a Japanese player.
“We thought that this was the year to dip our toes into the water in Japan,” Anthopoulos said. “We had a lot of things to do a year ago, Latin America was a priority.”
Lefties Wei-Yin Chen of Chinese Taipei, who pitched for the Chunichi Dragons, and Tsuyoshi Wada of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks meanwhile, are both pure free agents and could be fall back positions for some teams.
As for the early sparring trying to find a closer, a second baseman or a middle-of-the-rotation starter, the GM compared it to Let’s Make a Deal ... except with more doors ... and without Monte Hall.
“If we’ve got six doors to open, we don’t want to rush through door No. 1 when it could turn out that maybe door Nos. 4, 5 or 6 is a better fits for us. We don’t need to rush. You make a quick decision if there is a clear separation of one from all the others. There is not in these cases.”
The third-year GM said he’s not going to make a deal “just for the sake of making a deal.”
“Sometimes it is the money, sometimes it is the years of the contract, that I don’t like, I wouldn’t say it’s one more than another,” Anthopoulos said. “I can’t really phone (president) Paul Beeston and say: ‘I don’t like the money, I don’t like the years, but I still think we should do the deal.’ ”
Yet, if this position is second base the Jays can’t field an eight-man team with a wait-and-see approach, can they?
“Something will work out, there may be a better deal in the spring, maybe the summer,” Anthopoulos said. “In some instances, I don’t like the years on a contract (or the years a free-agent wants), in others it’s the amount of money involved.
“In some trades I don’t like the cost (both in dollars and prospects).”
As for if Anthopoulos has made progress on improving his team for next season?
“I wouldn’t say so,” the GM told reporters. “There are too many options for everybody right now.”
And oh yes, Anthopoulos ate turtle while in Japan.
How did the old Aesop’s fable about the Tortoise and the Hare go again?