Reporter Mark Zwolinski is chatting with readers about the acquisition of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment by Rogers and Bell over at the Toronto Star, and a lot of what he’s being asked has to do with where the Jays fit into all of this. Here’s his view, taken from several of the comments he made in the chat…
Nadir Mohammed insisted, if that’s what you can call it, that the Jays will continue to operate as a “seperate” entity from this new deal at MLSE. That won’t ease your concerns over money for the Jays any, and to be honest, Rogers wasn’t going to increase spending on the Jays this season, any more than what the plan was the past two seasons since Ricciardi was booted out of town. And that was that a loose ceiling of about $110 to $120 million was in place for the payroll. The rest was up to AA and Beeston to deal with – that is, to make requests for more money when they felt the timing was right.
Now AA isn’t just sitting there, waiting for a free agent to happen. He went after Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee last winter, but neither player was interested in coming here. He’s a player in the Fielder sweepstakes and for sure we’ve heard him say he’s operating under financial restrictions. But AA draws a line in the sand for each and every player financially, and doesn’t cross it. He may have been indirectly complaining about Rogers, or he may have been sending a message to Fielder and his agents about using the Jays to drive up the price for the player.
At any rate, I do believe the Jays have the financial means to land a big name free agent – but they weren’t about to give Pujols or Wilson the money they got, and that’s just the paramaters AA and Beeston set for the franchise.
The thing is, he adds, if you are a top shelf free agent and looking at the Jays, why would you want to come here?
Here’s what big leaguers think about the Jays: they have an excellent reputation with their GM and their medical model – players feel the jays acutally have the best, or one of the best, training and medical staffs in the majors. That’s not a deal breaker, but it is a concern for a free agent. What most players talk about, though, is winning; they refer to it as “something special” going on with team x or team y. Everyone knows now that the Angels have “something special” going on. The Jays simply don’t, at least not to that degree. They know management is being creative through trades to build a winner, but that path has seen precious few success stories (Oakland in 2003-04, the Rays after David Price fell into their laps with the first overall pick a couple of years ago).
As long as a team tries to develop all-stars at every position, teams like the Yanks and BoSox will simply go and buy the best players. That’s the stark reality of it, especially in the American League East Division. Sooner or later you’ll have to spend – I don’t see the Jays spending [this winter] (I’ve been wrong before) – I see them going after a lefty like Gio Gonzalez, and if they get him, fight another year and try to get a step closer to the post season.
Right now, though, if you are a fan, there’s not an overwhelming sense that the Jays are anything more than a launching pad for Rogers tech, and a club that will, if it can, develop its way to a post season berth. The question is, how long to fans continue to buy that?