Joshua Kusnick, Jeremy Jeffress agent contacted us after the Jays traded for Jeremy and offered interviews with him and Jeremy. I talked to Joshua this morning. He mentioned that he told the Jays that Jeremy was looking good, when talking to them after the Jays picked up (and then lost) another of his clients, David Herndon, off waivers. He didn't know how much his word influenced the Jays, but they did pick him up.
What does Jeremy think of joining the Jays?
He was very excited about going to Toronto. His family is from Virginia, which is closer to Toronto, than Kansas City, maybe they will get to come to more games now. And it is the AL East, Yankees and Orioles, he's got family in New York and Baltimore. He has family in Florida and Dunedin is right there. And it's the first time he pitches in spring training outside of Arizona so it is really going to give him a chance to focus on baseball because he spends a lot of his time in Arizona, getting him out of there to a baseball environment like Dunedin is only going to help.
Going to Dunedin is going to be a great thing for him because it will get him out of Arizona, letting him focus on being the best big leaguer he can be, instead of having to worry about about the possibly of going to the minors. He's got the assurance that he is out of options and that the Jays traded for him, he has a good opportunity to make the team. Obviously he still has to pitch well to make the team but it is a more positive situation going into it than it would have been in KC
In KC the situation flipped on him,. He was penciled in to Triple-A there, with Toronto, I would assume, he is penciled into the big leagues and it he goes down it would be a disappointment, whereas in KC that's expected.
Has he been to Canada?
No, the Royals called him up to pitch against the Jays, but he didn't have his passport. That was the problem there, I don't believe he has pitched in Canada yet.
I've been to Canada a lot, I've been to Toronto a lot, I've been to Vancouver. Vancouver is my favorite city in the world, people of Toronto won't like hearing. I don't think BC and Ontario people don't get along and then everyone hates Quebec for some reason. (laughs). I told Jeremy all about Toronto, it is going to be a good place for him to place. It is a place that has a lot of tradition and it's the AL East. It going to be tough for him pitching against those teams, but it's better than a Triple-A Omaha. I rather have him have trouble in the majors than an easy time in the minors. He is elated to be in Toronto. It was a surprise to me, I didn't think he'd be that happy,. He told the Jays I'm not going to screw this up, I take my career seriously, thank you for the opportunity.
I have to ask about the suspensions. I'll admit I'm not one that thinks marijuana should be illegal but then that's the rules.
I'm with you, two more states made it legal for for recreational use. I don't do it, but I lean liberal in those areas.
But there are rules in MLB in place and you have to respect them. It that is your employee's policy, and you want to work, you do it. To clarify, there have been a lot of misconceptions about it on the internet. Jeremy suspended twice, 50 and 100 for drug abuse, not steroids. He entered the drug treatment program which was fantastic for him and they still drug test him for marijuana bi-weekly. Most major leagues don't get tested for that but Jeremy does because he is in the drug treatment program, so he stays off it. He's been good since. I haven't had to handle any grievance or fines or anything. The Royals didn't get rid of him for any off the field reasons.
But the one thing people should know, because he is in the drug treatment program and on a 40-man roster, he is insulated from that 3rd strike, life ban. Even if he was in Triple-A, as long as he is on the 40-man, if, God forbid, he was found to be using, he wouldn't be banned for life. Not that it wouldn't be a problem. He'd only be in danger of that suspension if he were to sign a minor league contract and if that happened, at this point, he has bigger things to worry about than the suspension.
He's done a good job of conquering his addiction issues.
After he was properly treated, he's been on the right path. I don't see there being any issues in Toronto. There was no issues in KC. It's been smooth sailing since the suspension for 100 games, which was 3 or 4 years now. He is an easy target to make fun of, but I'd hope that will die out. You don't have to have sympathy for the kid. Most people get to deal with this stuff in private, he has to in public.
On Twitter the empowerment of the fan, the sense of entitlement, where they can say 'he sucks' to a player on the internet or they can tell me 'your client is terrible' where as in person this wouldn't happen. It's shocking to me the disintegration of etiquette, The disintegration of politeness, and there is a lot of that in American, upsets me. There is a lot of that in America unfortunately , with the political climate. He got a good response from the majority of fans but the odd one...
Addiction is a complicated thing. It isn't like a broken arm that you recover from. You battle all the time.
I think I'd keep players off Twitter, if it were up to me.
Jeremy isn't on Twitter, but I am.
I saw someone say he was traded for $20,000, I heard the number was $200,000. 20 doesn't make sense to me, I think the Royals would have put him on waivers for that. At $200,000 it is a worthy gamble, because you are looking at a guy that throws about as hard as anyone short of Aroldis Chapman. Even though Jeremy is 5'11", he topped out at 102 mph at the Arizona Fall League All-Star game and at his last game in Kansas he was 94-97 topping out at 100.
He's had control troubles.
I think that's a little overstated but I think that once he gets in the hands of the Jays, not to say the Royals did a bad job, he always gets obsessed with velocity, he wants to throw 100. If he can throw 93-95 and throw strikes, it would be better than 102 and walking people. I think the Jays know what they are doing. If they can drill that point home, I think that will be good for him. He needs to refine his breaking pitches. His curve, when it is on, is one of the most devastating pitches I've seen in a while. His slider is 95 mph. When he is on he's on. He's still young, if it clicks, you have a $100 million arm.
You broke the news of the trade on Twitter, why?
I always twitter transactions. I love interacting with fans. I had a column on BP. I'm friends with many people in the media. Tweeting is easier than calling. Most that follow me are members of the media. I'd rather let fans get access to the info quickly. I didn't break it before Jeremy knew. Once he knew I sent out. So you got to hear about it earlier than you would have.
I liked your column on damage control at Baseball Prospectus.
I remember that, it was regarding this player. It was about Jeremy. It is always better to get in front of a story than to lie and deny. My favorite example is that everyone hates Roger Clemens, no one hates Andy Pettitte. And they both did steroids.
My friend said about Tigers Woods should have just said 'yeah I did it, you would have too'.
Exactly. If they just own up to it, instead of the orchestrated speech Tiger Woods did. I think the time I wrote it was that same week. I watched that press release. I thought this guy is worth a billion dollars and this is the best you could do? I'm little old me and I come up with better press releases than that.
The one I liked best I wrote was about flexible morality, where there are morals you follow professionally are different than what you would follow in real life.
Who else do you represent?
I have David Herdon who is arbitration eligible (with the Yankees), Darren Ford's in Pittsburgh, Steve Clevenger is in Chicago, Taylor Green is in Milwaukee, Justin Sellers in LA, Michael Brantley is in Cleveland. He has a shot to be a superstar. He is Mickey Brantley's son.
What's Jeremy like?
I really like Jeremy, I really believe in him as a person. I think he is such a good kid, good heart, good family. I've never second guessed my decision to represent him. You don't need an agent when things are good, you need one when things are bad. I'm great full for the chance to work with him. All his teammates love him. The city will love him, especially if he does well.
As we were saying bye, he said this:
One more thing, I love hockey, could you shoot Gary Bettman for me? I'm a Panthers fan. We make the playoffs, for the first time in a decade last year and now there is a lock out again.
It is going to kill the southern teams. The bad thing, the Panthers had their first sellout in years, near the end of last year. But they just keep killing them, they try to destroy the southern teams. I don't know why there is 2 teams in Florida, they should contract one.
Panthers are going to trade for Roberto Luongo when the season starts. I'm so looking forward to that.