Carlos Villanueva Not Entirely Pleased With Toronto Blue Jays GM's Doubt

By Thom Tsang
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The pending courtship between the Toronto Blue Jays and right-hander Carlos Villanueva may have fizzled before it ever truly began.

Maybe courtship isn’t even the right word to use. Team GM Alex Anthopoulos might have have had too much interest to begin with, telling reporters earlier this week that while he doesn’t want to doubt the reliever-turned-starter, he also had to be “objective and realistic” about Villanueva’s capabilities of making 30 starts in a year:

There’s good reason for doubt, of course. Villanueva has been excellent in his 13 starts this season (3.58 ERA / 1.13 WHIP, 3.65 K/BB), but comes with a number of unknowns. He’s set to throw more innings this year than he has since 2007, and last year’s late-season arm injury (and general ineffectiveness leading up to it) is probably not lost on the team – especially not with all the other pitcher injuries this season. Had he been under team control, it’s not likely that he would’ve been immediately handed a rotation job for 2013.

Free agency changes that, though, and Villanueva is using the opportunity given to him by the Blue Jays as an extended audition for the league, using to to show that he can be a consistent starter next season – and most importantly, worth the money and the contract years of such a player. Naturally, he’s not exactly impressed that his own GM expressed opinions which may suggest otherwise:

Responding to Anthopoulos’ comments, Villanueva said that he “[doesn’t] really love the advertisement being put out there. GMs are influential and somebody else might listen to them and think, ‘Hey, maybe they know something we don’t know.'”, but accepted that it was part of the business for GMs to have opinion and doubts about players, saying, “that’s why we battle to get to free agency, so we can see what else is out there.” Suddenly, the whole wanting-to-stay-in-Toronto thing sounds a whole lot less committed.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether the Blue Jays want to give him multiple years and guarantee a starting job. “The security of being somewhere for over a year is important…it would be nice for someone to make a commitment to me.” Judging by Anthopoulos’ comments about Villanueva, it seems unlikely that the Blue Jays will make the commitment that puts him in the starting 5.

For now, anyway. There is still a couple of weeks left in the season, and several more starts for Villanueva to impress upon Anthopoulos that the doubt is unwarranted – this afternoon’s 7-inning, 2-run performance probably doesn’t hurt. The free agent market isn’t exactly going to be overflowing with quality starters this off season, meaning that an otherwise risky sign in Villanueva is probably hitting the market at a pretty opportune time. The Blue Jays figured to be at least a motivated party to inquire about extending Villanueva’s time here because it’s one of the teams who really could use a starter, but judging by Anthopoulos’ comments (and Villanueva’s response), the team and player may already be anticipating parting ways after the 2012 season.

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