INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. - Braintrusts from all 30 teams, their entourages and the agents that they deal with are arriving Tuesday night and Wednesday morning for baseball’s annual general managers meetings.
On the plane in, we envisioned an imaginary conversation between Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, in search of an experienced manager to replace John Farrell and an agent, that could possibly take place in the next three days: Anthopoulos could say to agent: “We’d really like to have your guy on our staff. We think he’ll add a lot. I mean we like him. We had our guys see eight of his final 10 starts this year. We know there are other teams in the mix, but we think coming to Toronto could make a big difference in the wild-card race next season.”
Agent: “Who is managing your club?”
Anthopoulos: “We don’t have one yet. We’re conducting a search, not as extensive as the last one, it’s much narrower. We’ll have an experienced manager by the winter meetings, not to worry.”
Agent: “Ah, we’ll get back to you, when you get your house in order ... if we don’t sign elsewhere.”
We presented our theory of what Anthopoulos can expect sitting down for face-to-face meetings with the agents representing this year’s class of free agents Tuesday night.
“Has it come up in talks that we don’t have a manager? Yes,” said Anthopoulos from Toronto of his preliminary talks with agents. “Have we been asked about our next manager? Yes. But it hasn’t been an issue.
“Teams are fielding calls, trying to assess interest. The fact that we have not yet hired a manager has not been a major problem in any of our early conversations.”
Usually length of contract and money, which decide where a free-agent lands.
Although we do recall in 1990 the Jays beating the Los Angeles Dodgers for the services of free-agent reliever Ken Dayley, the best lefty available. Dayley chose the Jays over the Dodgers because of horror stories he’d heard from other relievers about manager Tommy LaSorda’s overuse of relievers.
Dayley had little success with the Jays in his three years, suffering from vertigo, pitching only five innings in three seasons.
Many a Jays scout credited with the success of beating the Dodgers for a free agent gave the usually cautious front office unseen bravado for the bridesmaid Jays heading into the 1990 winter meetings, where Devon White, Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter were acquired via trade.
Miami Marlins new manager Mike Redmond has mentioned Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu in conversations ... Was Esmil Rogers acquired so fans vent their frustrations at their cable bill or Sportsnet by booing the reliever with ownership’s name on his back? ... Could be close on signing a lesser light free agent?
Twelve years ago Tuesday, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News, some ball writers from Dallas and I watched the U.S. Presidential election unfold.
We wanted to see if the former general partner of the Texas Rangers — George W. Bush — would become the most powerful man in the world.
We knew Bush from standing behind the batting cage at the old park in Arlington, Tex., telling stories about squabbles with agents. He had a sense of humour, pulled pranks on his own secret service detail and told of growing up as President, George H. W. Bush’s son.
So we watched state totals from at the GMs meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., to see if a man told he couldn’t be commissioner of baseball would be president.
The night dragged on with the networks unable to declare a winner.
Eventually only Ringolsby, now sleeping in a chair, and I were there when an anchor proclaimed Bush had won and Al Gore had conceded.
I woke Ringolsby, told him Bush won and headed to my room.
The next morn he awoke me with a phone call asking “didn’t you tell me Bush won.”
Yes, I said.
“Well, he didn’t.”
Walking into the meetings the next day Bill Madden of the New York Daily News asked what a “foreigner” like me thought of the election process.
I told him not to worry as independents were being brought in from Bosnia, El Salvador and Nicaragua to help with the re-count was accurate.
That was half-funny and half wise-acre ... except Madden wrote it and letters began.
More than a month later Bush was declared the winner.