After the whirlwind of activity surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays last month, December has started out a little quieter.
Although they had already made major roster upgrades, whether or not the Blue Jays were looking to complete another deal was still a mystery to most. The trade rumours regarding JP Arencibia started to heat up, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos usually plays his cards fairly close to his chest. If something were to happen, it was pretty unlikely that the story would break before the trade was announced.
By now, we know that the Blue Jays stayed pretty quiet during the Winter Meetings, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.com reported on the second day of the meetings. In fact, in talking to Bob McCowan, Anthopoulos revealed that he does not believe the Winter Meetings to be conducive to the way he likes to conduct business.
That does not mean that nothing happened over the weekend. The Blue Jays had already made the splash that made them contenders in the AL East, so there was very little pressure on Anthopoulos to make a move.
There were a number of Blue Jays-related stories that came out of the weekend, though, so let’s start a little recap.
The Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was presented to the Kansas City Royals’ DH Billy Butler. Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion came second in voting, narrowly missing the accolade.
Although not the best-case scenario for Encarnacion, his season was recognized by the media and fellow AL teams. His strong play at the plate is expected to continue next year and having almost tasted the award, perhaps he will be extra motivated to get his name at the top of the ballot next year.
Blue Jays' third baseman Brett Lawrie was named to Canada’s World Baseball Classic squad while the league’s GMs met, and newly acquired shortstop Jose Reyes will suit up for the Dominican Republc, as confirmed by the MLB public relations department.
Anthopoulos was not completely silent, though, as the Blue Jays also snagged catcher Eli Whiteside off waivers from the New York Yankees. Many thought that this was a move to ensure the Blue Jays had the freedom to deal JP Arencibia or Travis D’Arnaud but no such move ever transpired.
At the moment, it appears that Anthopoulos was merely continuing his commitment to building a strong minor league system. The farm system he built is what enabled him to create the blockbuster trade before the meetings started, and it looks as though he will continue to restock it.
Potentially the biggest story of the week for the Blue Jays organization was the announcement that legendary broadcaster Tom Cheek was awarded the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
Cheek was the voice of Blue Jays' broadcasts from their first game, and he continued to cover the Blue Jays for 4,306 straight games including both World Series titles in the early '90s. If you are in the mood for some spine-tingling chills, here is the audio from the 1993 World Series. Joe Carter gets to the plate around the 10-minute mark.
Tom Cheek was the picture of consistency for the Blue Jays, and the quantity of games broadcast was shadowed only by the quality of his work. With this achievement, Cheek will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Although Anthopoulos did not make any major moves during the three-day meetings, there was plenty of Blue Jays news to keep fans happy. Anthopoulos did note that he has potentially laid some “groundwork,” though, so there may be more news coming.