If you reminisce with anyone who can remember high school with the least bit of fondness, you’re likely to hear about a teacher who did more than merely instruct that person in the ways of mathematics. A good high school teacher has the potential to be a lasting influence in a student’s life.

Unfortunately, most high school teachers are complete and utter hacks.

However, even these hacks fall into two categories. On the one end of the spectrum are the hacks that somehow, despite their incompetence, convince themselves that they actually make a difference in the lives of their students. These are the teachers who claim that teaching isn’t just a job, “it’s a calling.” Yet, despite their moral grandstanding, they have absolutely zero knowledge worthy of imparting to students, and even if they did, they’d likely be far too lazy to bother with it anyway.

On the opposite side of the coin are the hacks who know they’re hacks, and they’re okay with it. They don’t have to bother convincing themselves that they’re doing a great service to the world. They’re refreshingly comfortable doing a formidable job and collecting their bi-weekly pay cheque without trying to sound self-important to students.

My high school History teacher Mr. Adams was just such a creature. In fact, the only thing I can clearly remember from any of his classes was that tanks were first used at The Battle of the Somme, and that’s only because he’d ask the class, “What was first used at The Battle of the Somme?” When someone would answer, “Tanks.” He’d reply, “You’re welcome, but what was first used at The Battle of the Somme?”

That’s a long and indirect way at getting at the word tank, and not even in the usage I’m going for either, but it’s my fucking blog and if I want to write a dull semi-stream of conscience intro about high school teachers, I will.

There are several theories as to why the term “tank” can refer to giving up: like falling in a dunk tank, diving into a water tank or toilet, fuel being spent from an empty tank, etc.

However, one thing is clear, the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays should just fucking tank it. And, as the most rabid of Jays fans, we should support the impending tank job. That is, as long as they do it right.

Roster Management

Pitchers

Talking about the Blue Jays pitching situation and not mentioning Roy Halladay is like talking about a hot piece of talent and not mentioning her tits. They’re both sweet, luscious and you totally want to stick your dick between them.

Anyway, the obvious first step toward Tank Nation is ridding the team of its best player. Hopefully, a Halladay trade nets the Jays another young rotation-ready pitcher with a good upside, but whatever the return is, it should dictate the team’s next several moves.

A tanked season gives the team the opportunity to try out all sorts of shit in the rotation, and between Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Brad Mills, David Purcey, Robert Ray, Scott Richmond, Ricky Romero, Marc Rzepczynski and whatever they get for Halladay, it should be more than fucking possible to find five guys that can eventually give this team a chance to compete.

In the bullpen, the team should do whatever it can to deal Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor and Brian Tallet. If they can’t swing a trade, I wonder about the point of even offering Camp and Tallet arbitration. I realize it’s unlikely that non tender anyone, but please explain to me why paying more than a million dollars for Brian Tallet’s arm is worthwhile for a lost season.

Frasor, on the other hand, I guess I can see because he has the opportunity to become a free agent after 2010, and with a good showing this year, could potentially nab the Jays a draft pick once he’s signed by another team.

Trading Scott Downs could be a money-saver for this season as well, but he also has the potential to earn the Jays some compensation when he signs elsewhere next season.

Ideally, what you’d be left with is a bullpen consisting of Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen, Brandon League, Josh Roenicke with spots available for Fabio Castro, Dirk Hayhurst, Sean Henn, Luis Perez, Zach Stewart, Brian Wolfe and any of the potential starters who don’t make the cut.

Catcher

J.P. Arencibia had an unexpectedly disappointing season at Triple A last year, and that’s thrown a shitload of shit out of whack. As much as I’m all about the Tank Nation ethos of youth over talent, the catcher position might be an exception to my arbitrary rules. Bringing back Rod Barajas or signing a veteran catcher would be an important part of making a young, inexperienced staff become comfortable pitching in the big leagues.

Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo are interesting free agent options, if you expand the definition of interesting to include shitty. But if we’re going to go crazy, why not consider Ivan Rodriguez? You could do much worse than Pudge mentor-wise, and that’s speaking for both Arencibia and the young staff.

While he’s certainly not going to put up numbers like he did in his prime, Rodriguez isn’t looking to get paid like he was back then either. Pudge made $1.5 million last year with Houston and Texas.

First Base

Dump Lyle Overbay. No, he’s not terrible, and his salary isn’t that out of proportion with what he can do for a club. Unfortunately, Lyle Overbay and his $8 million owed have no place on the rebuilding 2010 Toronto Blue Jays.

The team has nothing to lose by watching Brian Dopriak and Randy Ruiz (and Adam Lind, if his footwork can impress blog commenters) play 1B and occasionally hit from the DH spot this season.

While the two righties battle it out for playing time, the Jays can keep an eye on David Cooper on the farm, as long as he improves from his thus far disastrous Arizona Fall League play.

Second Base

I’m not against trading Aaron Hill, but I just don’t think that it would be a fruitful endeavour to concentrate on shopping him around. He’s got a good contract and he’s locked up with team options until 2014, but the necessary return on the Jays best asset after Halladay isn’t going to be easily had.

Even if he can’t equal the 37 HRs he hit in 2009, there will always be a place in the Jays lineup for Hill, and it’s not that difficult to imagine, four years down the road, Hill as the veteran leader of this ballclub. Fuck, never mind four years, it should be the case in 2010.

Third Base

As part of the punishment for offloading Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds, the Jays were saddled with the contract of Edwin Encarnacion. The model of inconsistency slugged 8 homers in just over 40 games for the Jays, all while playing with a bum wrist that was corrected through surgery in the offseason.

A $4.75 million contract would make E5 one of the highest paid players in Tank Nation, but it was only a year ago that Encarnacion was coming off three straight seasons with an OPS + over 100.

He’s at his lowest value trade-wise right now, and if we’ve learned anything about Tank Nation, it’s that now is the time to take risks and give playing time to those potentially under-valued players. Dumping Encarnacion will shave almost $5 million off the payroll, but there will be little to no return if anyone’s even interested in acquiring him.

There’s no third baseman in the system knocking on the door for playing time. Let Brian Butterfield work his fungo bat magic over the whole season with Encarnacion, and we’ll see what emerges at the end of the year.

Shortstop

Do not resign Marco Scutaro. Don’t even pretend to be interested in bringing him back. It’s pointless.

Scutaro played better than he ever has during his time in Toronto. There’s no doubt, but bringing back a 34 year old coming off his best season ever to a rebuilding team makes absolutely no sense at all. And that’s before considering the two draft picks that the Jays could receive once he signs elsewhere.

Like third base, there’s no one from the system ready to step in at shortstop, and that’s why I’ve been pushing the idea of bringing back John McDonald for another season. He would be cheap, and despite his sub par bat, there’s no question that he’s a fan favourite in Toronto.

As sad as it sounds, another option for the Blue Jays is waiver pickup Mike McCoy. McCoy had a breakout year in the Pacific Coast League this past season, putting up a .405 OBP while hitting over .300. He’s transferred this success to the Mexican Winter League to the tune of a .878 OPS in just under 100 at bats.

Perhaps more than any other player, McCoy fits the Tank Nation qualifications of being a below radar flyer, who could possibly soar if only a team were willing to give him MLB at bats.

Welcome to Toronto, Mike.

Right Field

Thank fuck, I’m not writing about Alex Rios in this space. But uh, who am I writing about?

Jose Bautista played a surprisingly good defense from the outfield last season, but I can’t justify paying Bautista an arbitration eligible raise from the $2.4 million he made last year to put up these numbers: .239 AVG / .349 OBP / .408 SLG.

If ever there was a candidate for non-tendering, it should be Bautista.

Without Bautista, Travis Snider could move over from left field, if the Jays are serious about playing Adam Lind there. Otherwise, they’re going to have to look at bringing in a free agent or getting someone through trade.

Unfortunately, the 2010 class of free agent outfielders is broken up into two categories: a) The old and expensive; and b) The old and shitty. There are no outfielders available that anyone would mistake as a potential target for a rebuilding team.

Of course, if the Jays were to get someone through trade, they’d ideally acquire a new centre fielder, and move Vernon Wells into right.

Centre Field

This is Vernon Wells’ spot, and it’s likely to remain that way for a while. Wells will make $12.5 million while receiving the final $8.5 million bonus installment. In 2011, he’ll make $23 million, and then $21 million annually for the three years after that.

Wells apparently played through an injury again last year, but if Wells puts up similar numbers again this season, the only way Jays fans will be able to rid themselves of this contract is by making life so miserable for Wells that he takes the opt out clause in his contract after the 2011 season.

That would mean giving up $63 million.

As much ire as Jays fans are able to raise (see comments section), I can’t see anyone willing to take it to the levels necessary to make Wells opt out. And that’s probably a good thing. After all, we don’t live in Philadelphia.

Left Field

Finally, a position to get excited about. Here we have Travis Snider and Adam Lind, who, along with Aaron Hill, are really the cornerstone of this team. In all likelihood we’ll see Snider playing in left while Lind hits from the DH spot, and that doesn’t bother me so much.

What does bother me is the fact that Cito Gaston might not give Snider the opportunity to bat against lefties. And this is really a legitimate fear for every position in Tank Nation. This year has to be about experimentation and seeing what players who have never gotten the chance can do when they’re actually given the chance.

If we can gather anything from the last two months of the 2009 season, it’s that Gaston is either unwilling or too stupid to give this chance to players. In the final year of his reunion managerial tour, is this going to change? It really fucking better.

Back to Snider and Lind, these are important years for both of them. Lind, coming off a career year, his first full one in the Majors, has to show that he can replicate the Silver Slugger numbers. Snider, who showed glimpses of brilliance, hitting opposite field home runs and consistently playing good defense, really needs to be last year’s Lind on this year’s team. He should certainly receive the at-bats to do it.

Optics

I know what you’re thinking: Baseball has a hard enough time doing well in this city when the Jays are at least pretending to try to compete. What’s going to happen when Tank Nation ascends to power?

Just as the Jays need to experiment on the field to find success, they have to adopt a “throw all the shit you can against the wall and see what sticks” philosophy with their fan relations policies as well.

I don’t think it’s overstating anything right now to suggest that fan loyalty is low. As fans of this ballclub, we have every right to feel slighted. This last season was a colossal waste of time and money for everyone. We tolerated a lame duck GM, an interim President and handcuffs on roster moves . . . all of which could’ve been avoided if Paul Beeston would’ve made the same fucking decision 10-12 months earlier.

Step one to improving the fan-team relationship is to stop insulting the intelligence of the fans. Using the term “build” instead of “rebuild” isn’t fooling anyone, especially after hearing bullshit like “reload” the year before. Giving clear and concise answers to general questions that fans are asking about the direction of the ballclub would be a step in the right direction that wouldn’t damage a team’s situation when dealing with other ballclubs.

No other team is going to be shocked that the Toronto Blue Jays are rebuilding their system.

I think hiring Alex Anthopoulos is a great idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does for this club, but his conversations with the press thus far have been idiotic. Have a seat with Jay Stenhouse for an afternoon and learn how to talk to the media. I’m sure in your mind, you want to be thoughtful with responses, but four minutes into the last teleconference, everyone was lost in the vagaries and ambiguous answers you were providing.

Be clear and concise: We are rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

Be honest: We realize that this team hasn’t made the playoffs in more than 15 years. That’s a problem. It’s a problem that needs more than just a bunch of money thrown at it. We don’t want to make the playoffs once and then take another 15 year hiatus. That’s why we’re rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

Be on the side of fans: We’re fans of the ballclub too. No one has more invested in this team than its front office. That’s why we’re rebuilding this team to consistently compete and sustain future success.

. . . and it never hurts to stay on message.

While we’re doing away with insulting the intelligence of fans, let’s eliminate Flashback Fridays. However many dollars it costs to fly Homer Bush into Toronto and put him up for the weekend can be better spent on the fucking fans.

Locally, this means grass-roots promotion throughout Southern Ontario. Send Adam Lind and Travis Snider to Peterborough for a day. Have them sit down with the local paper’s sports editor for a half hour, sign autographs for kids and visit local monuments. Locals will eat this shit up, and it shows a commitment from the team to its fan base.

It says, “Look, our team is shit right now. But these two guys, Lind and Snider, are going to lead us into the Promised Land. They’re down-to-earth and they like your community. Now, go buy tickets and merchandise, and watch us on television.”

Nationally, the team needs to take advantage of being the only Major League baseball team in Canada. This is a bit trickier than visiting small towns across Ontario on off days. The Jays need to talk to Bob Elliot or someone from Baseball Canada, or fuck, why not David from Saskatchewan, and find out what they can do to raise their profile in other provinces.

Would it be helpful to sponsor youth leagues out West or is it logistically possible to play a weekend series in Montreal? I don’t have a fucking clue, but a couple weeks of market research and conversations with people in the know would do wonders.

At the very least they could turn Flashback Friday into Out-Of-Town Fan’s Friday. Have contestants from across Canada send in a video explaining why they deserve to be put up for the weekend in Toronto by the Blue Jays. Promote the fuck out of this by showing the entries on Rogers Sportsnet, showing them on the website and showing them at ballgames.

If that doesn’t float the team’s boat, how about putting together an actual Web 2.0 strategy? It’s ridiculous the amount of promotion that blogs like DJF put into the Toronto Blue Jays without any reward.

Invite two or three blogs, each homestand, to cover a game or two, assign a media officer to them, and show them the ropes. Yeah, the old media guys are going to give you dirty looks for it, but invite them to giv e the bloggers advice as well. And anyway, should the team really care what print journalists think? It’s not like their precious newspapers are going to be around much longer anyway. I kid. I kid.

I can even understand not wanting to offend the Jamie Campbell’s Grandmas For Baseball Association by giving any recognition to a blog like DJF that says fuck and shit, and even cuntette sometimes, but for every swear word typed on this site, there is a more acceptable Blue Jays blog that should receive some level of appreciation for the amount of promotion they do for the team.

So, that’s how you do it, Blue Jays. That’s how you successfully make Tank Nation a reality and keep the fans with you. It really boils down to two things: a) rid the team of any player that doesn’t fit long term, with a few exceptions; and b) don’t dick around the fan base.

You’re welcome.

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