Anthopoulos Pleased With Free Agent Additions

When the Blue Jays targeted free agents last offseason, they wanted to complement their young pitching. Not necessarily with veteran starters, but with established catchers and proven defenders. Halfway through the 2010 season, the Blue Jays’ free agent signings appear to have helped with the development of starters like Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. But free agent additions John Buck and Alex Gonzalez have contributed on offense, too.

Buck and Gonzalez have paired up for 30 home runs – 14 more than they combined to hit all of last season. It isn't exactly what the Blue Jays expected, but GM Alex Anthopoulos won't complain about a player who leads all MLB shortstops in home runs (17) at a bargain salary ($2.75MM).

“[Gonzalez has] been great, he’s certainly been more than we could have hoped for,” Anthopoulos told MLBTR Saturday. “We certainly wouldn’t have expected to have this number of home runs so early.”

And Anthopoulos, who spent about $11MM on major league free agents in his first offseason as the team’s GM, was expecting moderate power from Buck. So far, the backstop has exceeded the team’s expectations.

“I don’t know that we saw the All-Star game coming,” Anthopoulos conceded.

Buck has 13 home runs this season, second only to Mike Napoli among MLB catchers. But Buck didn’t join the Jays to hit home runs. He wanted to work with the Blue Jays’ pitchers.

“I can let them know that they can learn from each outing even if it’s a terrible outing, which I think they’re doing,” Buck said.

The Blue Jays appealed to catcher Jose Molina for two reasons. First of all, he wanted a big league job. And like Buck, Molina wanted to guide the Jays’ pitchers through the ups and downs of a major league season.

“We try to help the staff to become better and I think that’s what we’ve been doing,” Molina said. “I mean sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it doesn’t, but I think the main thing is that [the pitchers] keep their focus every day.”

Molina (.751 OPS, $0.8MM salary) and Buck (.813 OPS, $2MM salary) have been pleasant surprises at the plate, but Anthopoulos says he signed the pair because of what they can do behind the plate. Though Gonzalez had flashed power with the Marlins (23 homers in ’04) and Reds (16 homers in ’07), his defense appealed to the Blue Jays front office, too.

“In this division you can’t give away outs,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re going to run young starters out, which was really going to be the core of this team, so having a plus glove at [shortstop] was important.”

Anthopoulos signed one more major free agent in his rookie offseason. The Blue Jays front office determined that Kevin Gregg’s second half slow-downs (3.84 first half ERA, 4.41 second half ERA) could have been related to knee issues that no longer appeared serious. They signed Gregg for $2.75MM and he has generally been effective, saving 20 games and posting a 3.71 ERA with 9.8 K.9 and 4.8 BB/9.

Gregg is a trade candidate, since the 44-44 Blue Jays trail the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. Lots of Blue Jays, including Anthopoulos’ recent additions, could appeal to other clubs, but Gregg is one player who isn’t thinking about the rumors.

“I could care less,” Gregg said. “I like it here, I like all the guys, I like everything that we’ve got going here. I wish our record was a little bit better, but I still think we’ve got the potential to win a lot of games.”


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17 Comments on "Anthopoulos Pleased With Free Agent Additions"


5 years 1 month ago

The funny thing is that the Buck/Molina pair are HORRENDOUS behind the plate, although Molina does a good job of controlling the running the game. Neither can block a ball with proper fundamanetals.

meanguygary
5 years 1 month ago

These guys – Gonzalez, Buck / Molina & Gregg have all been much, much better than I ever could have imagined. I mean, Gonzalez w/ 17 HR’s? My only expectation of him was to play well in the field, which he certainly has…but again, the offense has been a great surprise. Buck’s bat has played a fair bit better than I thought & while he does have some miscues behind the plate, I wouldn’t call him a butcher either. Molina has been solid behind the plate. No issues there. Gregg was the most perplexing aquisition but other than a few blips, he’s been pretty good – so long as he’s not working for the 3rd night in a row.

Great job identifying these guys by AA.

5 years 1 month ago

Great article, Ben!

andhicks
5 years 1 month ago

Now to trade them all for future pieces!

coolstorybro222
5 years 1 month ago

Hmm. They still are in one of the toughest divisions out there, but I am suprised they are doing decent.

doytch
5 years 1 month ago

“I could care less.” Another reason to hate Kevin Gregg.

Steelslayer
5 years 1 month ago

Did you even read the paragraph that preceeded it? Why should the fact that he doesn’t “care less” about trade rumors be a reason to hate him? Moronic thing to say

doytch
5 years 1 month ago

Whooooosh. The phrase is “couldn’t care less.”

Spifficus
5 years 1 month ago

Well, maybe he could care just a bit less. He did note the mediocre record, so maybe he’s a grain of sand more, or an inch above “couldn’t care less”.

AJCBE
5 years 1 month ago

The funny thing is everyone bashes Cito Gaston and no one seems to put together that he’s the one (and Murphy) helping these guys become more successful players.

5 years 1 month ago

Jays fan here and I love Cito. He’s doing a great job, so people complaining obviously just look at stats.

Spifficus
5 years 1 month ago

Aren’t the stats saying these guys are much better than normal?
I’m a huge fan of straw-men and scarecrows, but they should hold up to a breeze.

Sniderlover
5 years 1 month ago

No, Cito is bashed for his poor management and his horrible decisions during the game. Usually the starters and the bullpen he has trouble with. I would say he is also no good with the bench either but Jays don’t really have good bench players.

Anyways, anyone would be pleased with these guys. Gonzalez has been a stud. Buck has been solid, he had trouble blocking but that’s much improved now and he is calling games better now so that’s good. Gregg has been pretty good if you take out 2-3 games where he completely shat the bed and had crazy wild control. Other than that, he’s been pretty solid.

I know AA was also after Caaps as well in the off-season. He would look even smarter if he signed him but oh well. These were great signings and I am happy with all of them.

HerbertAnchovy
5 years 1 month ago

I wouldn’t sing the praises of Murphy. Hitting home runs all the time isn’t the answer. When they’re not hitting home runs, they usually lose. They need to stop focusing on swinging for the fences every single AB. I’d like to see them play more small ball.

HerbertAnchovy
5 years 1 month ago

I don’t buy into that at all. Their swings are too long, which makes it obvious what they’re trying to do. They need to shorten up. It isn’t a matter of working with what you have, it’s about plate discipline, taking a different approach and adjusting to a pitcher during the course of the game. They had early success with home runs, and it set the tone for the year thus far.

5 years 1 month ago

Nonsense. While they have improved over the season, they both still lack proper fundamentals. And dirtier changeups aren’t an excuse, when you call for an off-speed pitch you best be ready to block it, and neither Molina or Buck gets into the proper defensive position to do – they both consistently try stabbing at the ball with their glove, backhanded. The idea that an MLB C needs time to adjust to new pitchers because they throw a certain pitch more often would explain wild pitches if they were getting into proper position but still coming up empty-handed. Listen to a radio broadcast for just one game and you’ll hear Alan Ashby, a former MLB C, rip on Buck’s unwillingness to get down n dirty at least once.

AJCBE
5 years 1 month ago

I would agree with you if you were only analyzing Lind and Hill, but the rest of the team is clearly not having that problem. Doc3234 hit the nail on the head. You can’t just expect a team of power hitters to play small ball. Other than Lewis who exactly do you think would be good to take the small ball approach?