5:30pm - Intrepid cameraman Peter Bradley and I got to chat with Alex Anthopoulos this afternoon. Regrettably, I have little or no news to report from that discussion aside from the fact the first-year General Manager has had good reason to have spent this whole day holed up in his hotel room. He's sick. Not sick enough to cancel his daily briefing with reporters. But sick enough that he had to struggle through the session with an especially hoarse throat.
Anthopoulos did say his condition hasn't stopped him from meeting with a few other clubs today and won't keep him from meetings he has scheduled tonight. He has said over and again the Jays have some "balls in the air" without elaborating on the nature of those talks.
When asked about the recent comments made by Roy Halladay's representatives regarding a Spring Training deadline for a potential deal, Anthopoulos said he has spoken on a one-on-one basis with Halladay's agent, but wants to keep the natures of those discussions in house.
On the subject of free agency, Anthopoulos indicated the club has been in talks with players and agents. However, he was quick to point out he doesn't expect any movement on that front here in Indianapolis.
Blue Jays to Increase Area Scouts - 3pm
The Blue Jays newly installed Director of Amateur Scouting Andrew Tinnish told me he's now in the final stages of hiring area scouts for the coming season.
Tinnish says the Jays will have 25 area scouts on the amateur side for 2010, up from 14 a year ago. He says 23 of those spots are already filled and the department is doing its final checks on the candidates for the remaining two spots on staff. Tinnish says he's also loooking at hiring video coordinators and has been busy at these meetings interviewing prospective candidates.
The 33-year-old Tinnish who was born in Hamilton and now makes his home in Burlington first joined the Jays in 2001 after a distinguished college baseball career. Tinnish starred with both Niagara and Brock. "It's always been about baseball in Canada for me", the long-time Jays employee says. "Even when I was playing across in Niagara, I had a view of Canada from my dorm room". That's not altogether true -- in 2003, Tinnish was all about baseball in Northern Florida and Alabama. He was assigned to cover the region as a Jays area scout.
J.P. would be welcome in Oakland - 11:45am
I just had a nice talk with Oakland G.M. Billy Beane, who I first met in 2003, the same year in which a book about him, Michael Lewis' Moneyball, was causing a holy war in baseball.
Naturally our conversation leaned towards the person that first introduced us, our mutual friend and former Blue Jays G.M. J.P. Ricciardi. When asked about Ricciardi's future in baseball, Beane said, "He'll land anywhere he wants to. You know he always has an open invitation here and he knows that. But I think this next year he's going to relax and travel a little bit. But I know J. He's a competitor and at some point he's going to want to get back in. I'm not sure, given our conversations, that running a club again is something that's necessarily part of his future. But I know being a major decision maker in a club is certainly part of his future because he's so good at what he does".
Indianapolis Pacing - 10am
How fitting! The Winter Meetings opened this morning on the heels of the first winter storm of the season in Indianapolis. A fresh blanket of snow covers the city.
This has only forced more people indoors, jacking up the level of activity in an especially busy hotel lobby. Already this morning I've seen the likes of Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Tommy Lasorda and John Schuerholz here at the hotel. Seaver and Smith were both on hand for the first of what's expected to be a whole slew of news conferences in the media workroom. The Veterans Committee announced Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog as its selections for this year's Baseball's Hall of Fame class. Harvey spent 31 seasons umpiring in the Major Leagues, working the All-Star Game six times and the World Series on five different occasions. Herzog, a long-time manager of the Royals and Cardinals, led his teams to six division titles. His 1982 Cardinals team won the World Series.
The Blue Jays have indicated G.M. Alex Anthopoulos will meet with the media for his daily briefing at 4 pm.
First Impressions from the Winter Meetings - 9:51pm - Sunday night
Arriving in Indianapolis to cover the Jays, I found a city already awash in blue.
Driving to my hotel, I couldn't help but notice all the Colts fans still walking (drunkenly stumbling?) around the downtown streets, many long hours after their team's "Titan"-ic win over visiting Tennessee. Yes, their city will be the centre of the baseball universe this week, but the football Colts, with their still-perfect 12-0 record, are undoubtedly the locals' sporting obsession.
Quarterbacking the Blue Jays contingent this week, in a hotel complex located just a few long bombs away from "Peyton's Place" (aka Lucas Oil Stadium), is General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. In an exchange of text messages a few moments ago (he was eating dinner, after all), he told me this is his eighth trip to the Winter Meetings. It's safe to say this visit to the annual gathering of baseball's who's who will be entirely different for the Montreal native than his previous seven.
Anthopoulos, largely unknown even in Toronto just four months ago, will for the next four days be the most closely watched and talked about executive in Indianapolis. Will he trade the best pitcher in baseball or elect to hold on to Roy Halladay, giving Toronto one more season's worth of house calls from the Good Doctor? That's undoubtedly the most pressing question of these Winter Meetings.
Helping Anthopoulos with the answer to that question will be a group of five others from the Blue Jays Baseball Operations Department that travelled here - Assistant GM Tony Lacava, Special Assistant Dana Brown, the newly installed scouting directors Andrew Tinnish and Perry Minasian (Amateur and Pro Scouting respectively) and Mike Shaw, Manager of Team Travel.
Having now touched down in the home of the Colts, Anthopoulos and company are hoping to score with Manning-like efficiency. They certainly want to leave Indianapolis on Thursday with decidedly better results than Vince Young and the Titans did earlier today. One way or the other, we will have continued updates on the Jays in particular and the Winter Meetings in general in this space through the next four days.