July 9, 2012
Bautista urges Jays to acquire pitchers
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
KANSAS CITY - So how many starters do the Blue Jays need for the second half?
“Well, we lost three,” Jose Bautista told reporters Monday afternoon at the American League press gathering of all-stars at Arrowhead Stadium.
Bautista was told it’s tough to obtain one pitcher, how difficult would it be for general manager Alex Anthopoulos to obtain three.
How many prospects would that take?
“If that’s what it takes ... it has to be done,” said Bautista. “I know it’s wishful thinking, maybe we can add one and win. Maybe people like Brett Cecil and other guys take advantage of the opportunity. Given an opportunity in crucial situations brings out the best sometimes.”
It wasn’t quite as severe as Roy Halladay describing playing for the Jays as like Ground Hog Day “every spring we get together in spring, talk how well we’re going to do and every year at the break we sit here and talk about what went wrong,” in New York at the 2008 all-star game.
But as all-star game proclamations go, it ranks up there.
The Jays lost Brandon Morrow for two months with a strained left oblique muscle, Kyle Drabek with Tommy John surgery and Drew Hutchison with an elbow injury until September.
At the all-star break the Jays sit at sea level (43-43) 21/2 games back of the two wild-card berths shared by the Los Angles Angels and the Baltimore Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays are a half game back, the Cleveland Indians one game off the pace and the Detroit Tigers 11/2 games.
Then, the Jays and the Red Sox sit tied for fourth in the wild-card race.
“Alex is trying to get pitching help for the second half,” Bautista said. “I know Alex is doing his due diligence. In the past there was a different view of what the rest of the season would be like.
“Being so close to the second wild card has changed his mentality a little bit, This year he knows we’re in striking distance, our offence is clicking and our defence is playing well.”
The Jays have a cadre of arms at class-A Lansing like David Rollins, 22 (6-1, 2.78, 75 strikeouts in 772/3 innings), Justin Nicolino, 20 (3-2, 2.32, 66 in 66 innings); Noah Syndergaard, 19 (6-2, 3.06, 80 in 64), Anthony DeSclafani, 22 (6-2, 3.12, 55 in 661/3) and Aaron Sanchez, 19 (8-0, 0.72, 70 in 652/3).
Would a pair of those starters and another minor leaguer be enough to obtain Houston Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez, owed $29 million US — his $13 million option for 2014 kicks in if traded — or Chicago Cubs Matt Garza, a year away from free-agent status?
There are 23 days remaining until the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The best asset Anthopoulos has to deal is Bautista himself.
“I’d probably be his biggest trading chip,” Bautista said. “I don’t think he wants to do that because we’re competitive.”
The star player and young GM have a close relationship. It was Bautista who helped negotiate the new contract for Yunel Escobar last year — not Escobar’s agent.
“They know what they have to address, it’s a matter of getting it done and I know they’re actively trying to make our club better,” Bautista. “Hopefully they come through and are able to make a good move.”
Anthopoulos wasn’t a buyer or a seller for 2011 when he added centre fielder Colby Rasmus in a three-team, eight-player deal July 27. He bettered his team for the 2012 and beyond.
“If we’re better on the pitching side that’s probably going to make our club come together and win more, because we’ve managed to play .500 with the problems we’ve had to deal with.”
The Jays open the second half at the Rogers Centre against the Cleveland Indians with a rotation of Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, Carlos Villanueva, Henderson Alvarez and Cecil.
“To become winners, we have to have guys step up,” Bautista said. “It depends on how things plays out. I don’t think it’s a secret and I’m not saying it to put any pressure on the organization, or on Alex, or on the ownership.
“They’ll be the first to tell you that’s what we need.”
The Jays named Andrew Tinnish to the position of assistant GM after the June draft.
We missed the announcement about Bautista’s promotion.