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?

Comments (157)

  1. If the Jays ‘actually’ up their payroll sometime soon to what the market could support if the Jays put a contender on the field…then that will be fine by me if they avoid ‘fatty’ now and sign FA pitchers next year and up the payroll to 120.

    However…although there should be very good FA pitchers available next year….I can hear it now:

    AA: “I set a value on every pitcher…whether it be free agency or trade…and if it does not make sense to the organization…then we won’t do it.” 

    Plus…he’ll probably say something next year on how he doesn’t like free agency and that some of our prospects are on the cusp of the Majors and that we need to wait to see how they perform before we add that “key” piece to our club. So free agency will likely not be an option next year for 2 reasons: 1) there won’t be any hitters available worth pursuing..and…2) the free agent pitchers will cost too much and block our future prospects.

    So next year we will once again be saying…looks like we’re waiting for next year!

  2. This is my 2nd attempt at a response – the first is bouncing around in cyber space somewhere, i guess:

    I am in agreement with the bulk of what you say here.

    It was not my intention to make light of rape, my intention was to
    provoke rather than amuse. To me, the linkage between “hockey culture”
    and the patterns of thought and behaviour authorized by others in
    homosocial settings (including through silences) are important – as the article you link suggests.

    If someone chose to read my comment as “just stupid” – it would be to
    suggest that the correlation between rape and those in environments that promote
    certain forms of masculinity (like hockey teams) is not one worth
    interrogating. The reading is invited only by those that choose to see
    correlation as causation.

    Because the comment was a reaction to the collapsing of “Canadian” and
    “hockey loving” – I wanted to disturb that relationship through my own
    personal reading of hockey as a training ground for many values which I
    do not hold let alone consider to be foundationally “Canadian”

    It may not have been the best way to raise this set of issues, and I do
    appologize to you and anyone else who may have taken personal offense,
    or was disturbed by the comment. It was perhaps unfair to raise such a
    topic without (obvious) provocation or warning, however, I do believe my original comment to
    be critical of rape, nationalism and their roots, as well as those that might
    dismiss those concerns as anything but serious.

  3. I didnt say its not a good rotation. It clearly is good. It was plenty good last year too…but does adding Wilson make it great, spectacular, “something special”? I dont think it does. Thats all Im saying.
    Not nearly as good as the phillies IMO.

  4. Thanks.  And you’re right.  Using ‘rape’ as some kind of buzz-verb isn’t appropriate.  If guys can’t relate to that, maybe they should read Theo Fleury on the subject.

  5. Thanks for the link.

  6. I understand where you are coming from. But lets look at it objectively.
    You would hope Bautista maintains a similar level of production, as does Escobar.

    And now, you get a full season of Lawrie, a full season of a 2nd basemen who isnt Aaron Hill, and a full season out of a CFer in Rasmus who hopefully will put up very good numbers. On top of that, you have EE as DH full time so his head isnt fucked up and he continue his 2nd half numbers. Where else can we take this….

    JP will be in his 2nd full season. Perhaps the chance to fall back like so many sophomores do, or he figured out how to take a walk or two.
    LF was a bit of a black hole last year too. This year there is no more Rivera and we wont watch Snider suck a tit for 1 month- so more production there. And then you have Lind. I have no faith in Lind, but again, can it get any worse than what it was?
    Im not sure how you can look at what this offense did in 2011 and 2010 and then look at the roster as is and not draw positive conclusions.

  7. Fielder aside, who is there out there available in trade?  From, say, Pittsburgh, Kansas, CWS etc.  We’ve got the prospects to deal.  That’s the way AA likes to go.  Who can be had and (realistically) for how much?  Because as sure as shit we need a front-of-rotation guy and we need a big bopper and we need them before the start of next season.  I don’t blame AA for not backing up the truck to Prince Fielder’s door.  But I’ll be ticked if we don’t see some movement in areas where the team is clearly lacking.

  8. I think it does make their rotation something special. I know if that was our rotation right now…that I think even with our 6th best offense we would be making a run at the playoffs next year. Weaver is a stud. Haren is as well. Wilson….despite only starting for 2 years…has put up great numbers in those 2 years and has likely been discounted b/c of his poor postseason. Santana is a fantastic number 4…no matter which way you slice it. He’d easily slide into our 2/3 hole in our rotation right now.

    If you don’t think that is a special rotation…then your expectations for a rotation are really high.

     I’d hate to think what you think of the Jay’s rotation. Hahaha. Because our rotation sucks compared to theirs.

  9. While I agree rape jokes can be tacky and its sad we live in a society where we say ” this is how you avoid rape” as opposed to ” DONT RAPE!”… that link is a really poor explanation as to why I should not laugh at rape jokes. I mean, if I cant laugh at rape jokes, then I really cant laugh at any joke ‘Rated R’.

  10. I do draw positive conclusions Scott. I actually draw such positive conclusions…and have faith in the current additions….that I think adding Fielder now would actually help this team win NOW. 

    Unlike many fans…not saying you….who think that AA’s plan needs to be carried out to a T….and somehow his plan is still 2 years away. I think AA’s plan has been jump started with the additions of Johnson and Rasmus…and the emergence of Lawrie and Alvarez. I still think we need to add a #2 starter this year. And hopefully we’ll see some of our young pitchers round out the 4/5 holes of our rotation next year.

    BUT I also think that Fielder could be added this year while he’s still available instead of waiting 2 years…finding no one is available on the market…and then have to trade 4 prospects to land a guy similar to Fielder (30 yr old Votto?…unlikely) and then extend that player to a free agent contract anyway.

    AA should be kicking the fuck out of Fielder’s tires…but at a 6 year deal and he has to convince Boras…and Fielder for that matter…. that he is going to trade for a #2 starter and that the Jays are serious about winning. Because from my perspective…and I’m American…I don’t think it’s necessarily that players “don’t” want to play in Toronto unless they offered a ton of money. They want to see that the Jays are committed to winning. If the Jays were all over Fielder…but only 6 years….and promised him to add some pitching via trade or free agency next year…then I think they could convince him to come. Last I knew…6 years was a long contract. I don’t know why Boras is making it seem that 7-10 year contracts are the only way to show a guy commitment.

    Either way…even with the improvements last year to the players you named…our team will likely fall short absent a Phillies/Rays/or now Angels rotation. Unless of course we are in Central. 

    Fielder would put us over the top…plain and simple. Then trade for that #2! Really doesn’t seem that complicated and that’s why it’s so frustrating to see the Jays sit back and watch as Jose begins his slow decline while waiting to spend for another 2 years or more!

  11. I dont think very highly of our rotation at all. It needs lots of work.
    Romero is good.
    Morrow….can be as dominant as anyone but who knows which Brandon shows up on any given night. Could just as easily get shelled for 7 ER as throw a CGSO.
    Not a fan of Cecil.
    I am cautiously optimistic about McGowan. Looked pretty good in the handful of starts he had last year, and we all know what hes capable of at his best.
    #5? Alvarez, Drabek, someone else? Who knows what you get there. 

  12. You’re comparing apples to oranges, Ben. The Phils have been a team on the cusp of repeat Octobers for a few years now, so adding big contract FAs has made sense. And discounting the Philly line up by claiming that their starting rotation has been the only reason they’ve made the playoffs is less than rational. As for Cliff Lee, he accepted less money to play in Philadelphia because he loves playing there. If Prince Fielder says that he’s in love with Toronto and wants to forefit years and cash to play for the Jays, I think we’re in business.

  13. I’m going to turn your critique back on you.

    By taking my critical comment – which I’ve engaged in further critique of – and asking that it not be admitted to this discourse, I might accuse you of using rape, and the montreal massacre as reasons to simply omit discussion of these topics entirely from this space. A space that the article you linked to suggests is in dire need of critique, and monitoring.

    In short, your attempt to silence my comments, and non-response thereafter, indicate that what you would prefer is to simply shut down any responses that are not politically correct, or innocuous enough to pass your particular smell test. You install yourself as the police of appropriate discourse and then abandon the debate as soon as you administer your own brand of justice. In this case: prohibition. You do so by summoning the memory of 14 women as if my writing was not motivated by earnest sympathy for those bodies which become targets through the kinds of permissive behaviour, sense of entitlement and belonging, violence and so on that are so often associated with nationalism and competitive sports.

    In short: you say there are “lines” that should not be crossed, yet, without crossing them, no conversation can take place. Your message is not one that supports rape victims, but instead one that actively seeks to reject and silence the critical voices that the article you linked calls upon to speak. This is the politics of the ostrich who burries their head in the sand.

    With this said – sports aren’t evil. The point is to search for the causes, and the particular ways in which people come to feel themselves to be in a position to authorize certain behaviours, not to rail against atheltics, or competition.

    The risk of aggravating someone’s PTSD is one that I consider real, and the source of my troubling of the original comment. I recognize that introducing such topics is not one to be taken as lightly, or flippantly as I did. However, if not here, then where? If not now, then when?

  14. they could put that black tarp over more seats. at least it would look decent on tv…

  15. Our rotation would have to easily be in the bottom 10 in the majors. Right now our bottom three are some combo of: Cecil, McGowan, Alvarez and Drabek. A lefty who throws 88mph and is coming off a horrible season, a guy who was an OKAY pitcher in 2007 and who was pretty awful down the stretch last year after being injured for 4 seasons, a guy who has one career win above AA and a guy who whines like a baby when he doesn’t get his way on the mound . . . plus he can’t throw strikes.

    WE NEED DARVISH MORE THAN ANYTHING THIS TEAM HAS EVER NEEDED. Explain to me how we’re going to get a potential true ace aside from this in the next three years??? Damn, if Rogers can’t get their money together for this, we are fucked. Getting offense at either 1B or DH or LF next off-season off-sets the need for Fielder right now, but starting pitching is the most scarce commodity in baseball, and this might be our one real chance to get one. Do it, AA, for the love of god.

  16. I think if they sign a high end free agent, FIELDER, or trade for a high end player, they could create enough excitement to put fans in the stadium and as a result create revenue.
    That said, although FIELDER has been durable, his weight could begin to wear on him and you don’t want to pay a guy Huge dollars to sit on the DL.
    AA has to create a buzz around this team, by trade or free agent, and create a winning atmosphere, they are close.

  17. Yes, this. 

    The article is very good, but the one thing that stood out to me as the “loose ceiling” of $110-120 million.  If true, that’s at least a lot better than $75.  With AA we have a fighting chance if he can go to 110 million.

  18. I’m not sure I fully understand what you’re saying because you’re writing is borderline unreadable. (You are clearly in grade 10, and not doing very well in that regard.) But all I’m saying is this: if the Red Sox and Blue Jays are offering a baseball player the same money, and the same opportunity, most players are going to pick the Red Sox. This is mostly because the Red Sox are a storied franchise who play to a sold out, fanatical crowd, everyday. It is, however, also because an awful lot of Americans tend to be xenophobic, zealously-patriotic nutbars (statistically, at least 40% of them are rain or shine Republicans which means that they’re stupid, crazy, racist, evil or some combination of all four). That said, Boston is a really nice American city where the people aren’t as fucking crazy as in the rest of the county. Of course I prefer living in Toronto. But I’m not a stupid fucking American. We like to pretend that our baseball players aren’t as ignorant as most Americans. But really, we’re just kidding ourselves. For a lot of them, Canada isn’t a country. It’s a punch line. 

  19. I didn’t say there’s any way Fielder would sign for that term, I said I’d prefer the Jays to overpay over the short term than go long term if they could get a deal like that done. I never said I thought Fielder would go for it.

  20. Signing Fielder isn’t going to result in a championship in 2-5 years, he’d be a nice piece, but he isn’t the key to their success. And if you think for the short term, as in 2-5 years and then forget the next 5 years you get stuck with massive pieces of shit like Soriano and Zito on your team, and then you are sunk

  21. I didn’t compare them as players, I compared their possible salaries and length of the contracts being talked about. Don’t be an idiot and make up shit. There’s a massive difference in talent between A-Rod and Vernon but A-Rod’s contract is a huuuuuuuge drain on the yanks, the next 6 years he’s going to be an albatross on them and he’s arguably the best player of the past 50 years.

    And when Vernon signed his deal it was applauded and figured that the Jays were set for years to come

  22. I would agree with you with Fielder. If he dropped to say 5 or 6 years at 22-23 mil a year…then the Jays should jump on that.

     As for the Phillies’ rotation carrying the team last year…that is not only rational….that is totally true. The Phillies were the 13th ranked offense last year. They were barely ahead of the Orioles. They finished behind the Mets and behind the Royals.

    The rotation clearly carried them last year. Without those 4 starters…and then Worely when Oswalt was suffering from his back…the Phils don’t make it as far as they did. I’m not saying that they don’t make the playoffs…but they certainly don’t come within 1 game of the World Series.

    You’re also right that Lee signed with the Phillies because he liked that organization…but also because they had a great team which was capable of winning.

    Unfortunately for the Jays…we keep selling the team as if we are 2 years away from competing. The Jays should be telling players like Fielder that if they signed with our team, that we could compete…especially if we traded for help at the top of our rotation. BUT…AA doesn’t seem to try and sell the team at all. He just arbitrarily decides what a player is worth and if the asking price is not in line with his expectations…which are not realistic IMO…then he just stays away from that player instead of convincing them to come to our organization.

  23. I’m not sure you can say with any degree of certainty what kind of selling job AA does for their organization or doesn’t. You don’t know at all what he’s telling Prince Fielder or anyone else about the Jays. He keeps everything pretty quiet.

  24. Sorry buddy..but you’re an idiot if you think Fielder compares to Soriano or Zito…in that once he signs…he’s going to suck and be a drain on the franchise. If anything…Fielder would mash just like ARod did in Texas after he signed his huge deal and then would have to be traded b/c the team wasn’t good enough to support him.  Except that the Jays would also have Jose Bautista and a bunch of other pieces to support Fielder. So I don’t think your comparison is relevant at all! In fact…it’s not even close!

  25. I want to rape Brad Pitt. (not joking)

  26. True! But do you honestly think he’s really kicked the tires on Fielder???? When he says he won’t go past 5 years? 6 years for him would be fair….and it doesn’t sound like he’s been in on him for that length.

  27. It’s pretty impossible to predict performance from year to year. Although I do agree: I think Fielder would mash in Toronto. But I also thought Carl Crawford would be awesome in Boston, and that Adam Dunn would hit 50 homers in Chicago. So…

  28. Call me in 5 years of a 10 year deal and see if you feel that way. I never said Fielder would be bad for 5 years, I said I’d sign him for possibly up to 6 years, but I wouldn’t do it if it was more than that.

    Of course he’s not going to suck for the first part of the deal, but the back half, watch out.

    I think the Pujols deal is going to be terrible for the Angels after the same 5-6 years, and thats with him being one of the top 5 hitters of all time.

  29. Those contracts are far from over. I think Crawford will bounce back next year…he was clearly battling some injuries…..and you really can’t defend against speed.

    As for Dunn…I also thought he would be amazing in Chicago. Hopefully he’ll bounce back as well. I tend to think that he will. But he’ll likely have to lose a little weight himself. I think the DH’ing full time took a toll on him.

    And you’re right it’s impossible to predict performance from year to year…but I can’t stand AA and fans who are clearly discounting Fielder b/c they think he could possible fall apart in year 6 of any contract b/c he would be approx. 34…which was the year his father went in the shitter.

    We don’t know how he’ll do…but at 5 or 6 years…I think you need to bet on his past performance and the fact that he’s entering his prime years. Even if the final year of the contract is a semi-bust….who cares if the first 5 were awesome.

  30. I really think he’s doing more than kicking the tires of Fielder. He’s been pretty clear in saying he wants a middle of the order bat and a top of the rotation starter. If that’s what he wants, of course he’s talking to both Fielder and Darvish. Whether he gets them or not, who knows? 

  31. He’s said he won’t go 7 or 8 years. To me, that clearly leaves 6 years open for business.

  32. I agree about both Crawford and Dunn. In fact, if they don’t get Fielder, I would see about trading for Dunn. I bet they could get him for nothing, and get some of his contract paid.

  33. I also would never go more than say 6 years for Fielder. Certainly not 10. But Fielder cannot be compared to Soriano or Zito who were busts essentially right after they signed….more so with Zito. I think Soriano had 1 or maybe 2 good years…but clearly is not worth the money now.

    If Fielder were signed to a 5 or 6 year deal…I’m fairly certain he would be worth the risk and he would likely live up to the contract and help this team win!

  34. You compared the Jays signing Vernon/outcome to the Jays signing Fielder/outcome. Apples to oranges man. When Vernon signed he had only 1 season even close to any of Prince’s last 4/5 seasons.

  35. I’m sure if Fielder can be had for 6 years and 140 million or less, than the Jays will put a good offer in. If it’s going anywhere near 200 million (as has been suggested), they’d be fucking retarded. I don’t think AA is retarded. I think the Cubs might do something like that. But we’ll see.

  36. He says he would “like” a middle of the order bat…but there is no indication that he is really trying. He should be….and maybe he’s being secretive by saying that Lind was cleary battling injury…and that he would only go for 5 year deals. 

    So I guess I can’t rule it out…but it does not seem like a top priority…which IMO is a shame as middle of the order bats are scarce after this season. And we don’t have anything like that coming up in our system as we dedicate most of our draft picks to acquire pitching.

    I hope 6 years is open for business as well….but he also said he figured to be out on Fielder as he wouldn’t go past 5. I hope that number was not set in cement!

  37. “Don’t be an idiot and make up shit.” Haha, fuck you, likestosuckcock.

  38. Not that I think Theo Epstein is retarded either, but Fielder makes more sense for the Cubs at that kind of money than he does for the Jays. Fielder would help keep Wrigley full while they suck. I don’t think he would have that same kind of effect in Toronto. Maybe for the first month of the season. Probably not even that long (if they aren’t winning).

  39. I agree with the Dunn comment. He should bounce back. I wonder if Williams would sell low on him though…and also kick in some salary. Doubt he will do either.

    As for Fielder…I agree…if he truly goes for something absurd like 200 mil…then forget it.

    I don’t see the Cubs doing that at this point considering the comments I have read at MLBTR. They seem to be in semi-rebuild mode. I don’t see them committing that much money at this point. If they can get him for 6yrs/150….then they would likely be open for business.

  40. AA never gives a whole lot of indication about anything. That’s what he does. 

  41. Williams has said that they’re in rebuild mode. I would imagine, after Dunn’s past season, that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of anger in Chicago if he were dealt. In fact, I bet a lot of the fans would volunteer to drive him to the border themselves!

  42. Wow, your high school transcripts must be awe inspiring. You are like the Steven Hawking of DJF.

  43. Good one…

  44. Sort of all true. Seeing how I’m perfectly doing fine with a huge house and loving family, I will ignore your insult. I do not want Crawford at all, but if you really want a player you out spend the other team.
    You said almost every american  views Canada as a punchline, almost every athlete goes to the team, that offers the most money.
    Sorry if you feel I insulted you, so you insulted me back but be the bigger man bitch.

  45. Stephen Hawking, your not smarter, so are you more drunk.

  46. “Your” not smarter or…”You’re”? Haha we can pick apart grammar all day boys, someone’s going to make a mistake almost every time. Either way, I am not for anything more than 6 years, but I would pay the full premium for6 years. Please don’t compare what you should expect out of Prince to what you got out of Vernon.

  47. I take my statement back KnuckleBallah is a giant cock.
    It’s Knuckle Baller dick.

  48. That was 2 regimes ago.

  49. LOL wow calm down there johnny sensitive.

  50. they should have kept vernon  than it wasnt crippling the team??? Are you for real 10 years of Fielder would be 5 too many

  51. It was joke, I would never call you a cock.
    I’d call you a bitch(female dog)

  52. Agreed. I hope Snider does well in spring training. I have no clue why they treat eveland or jo jo reyes so well but demote snider at the first opportunity

  53. When the fuck did I say I would like the Jays to sign Fielder for 10 years?????  Because I would like for you to show me that! The most he should get…from anyone….is 6 years! Maybe…and I stress maybe….a 7th year option.

    I’m glad they ditched Vernon’s contract too. BUT that doesn’t mean the Jays should stray away from Fielder at 6 years just because Vernon’s contract didn’t work out.

    Two totally differnt players. Not even a close comparison.

  54. I believe that if you put more question marks in your post it makes your point more valid.

  55. Of course he’s kicked the tires on Fielder.  In fact, I’m sure he’s gone so far as to say  something along the lines of “if & when the market comes back to 5 or 6 years, come back and talk to me”.
    We’re talking AA here.  If you can hold a baseball bat, he’s likely looked into your swing.

  56. I just want to see those three guys  (Lawrie, JPA, and Cecil) in a Leafs vs. Canucks game in the ACC mock the penalized Canucks players in the box like the Green Men did all year.   I hope the Canucks draw about 10 penalties so those three will be working all game long.

  57. Speak for yourself McGruff. If the Jays are in contention, it might mean we don’t have NHL on the front page of the sports section in July.

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