Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times used to cover the “White Jays” for the Toronto Star, and he’s become aghast as he’s seen Mariners fans and bloggers start doing the team’s dirty work, making excuses for why the M’s need to be financially prudent. To combat this, he lays down a screed on the recent history of the club he covered from 1998 until 2006.

On one hand Baker surely makes some points worth considering. He gives a tidy explanation of how Rogers’ cost-cutting during early JP Ricciardi years was really a way to drive down the price of the then-SkyDome, which succeeded, as Rogers paid what amounted to a song– $25-million– for the building. He also points out that at the height of the club’s Moneyball hysteria the club ran a payroll of $51-million in 2003. Given that the Canadian dollar was, for much of the year, worth less than $0.70 US, they were actually spending more then than the club is now– on the Major League roster, that is. Of course, that sensational statement looks a little disingenuous when you factor in currency equalization payments and the vast gulf between Ricciardi-era and 2011 spending on the scouting, the draft, and international free agents.

“If I’m a diehard Blue Jays fan,” he writes, “I’m asking myself: If the first half of the last decade was spent with the Blue Jays stockpiling cash for their owners to buy a stadium cheaply, what’s the second half been about? Has it been about Rogers stockpiling cash to buy a hockey team? At the expense of quality baseball?”

Because, y’know, spending equals quality baseball. Obviously. We should get our heads out of our asses and stop giving one of the smartest GMs in the game, Alex Anthopoulos, who “makes all the cost-effective moves to keep the blogs happy,” so much damn slack. Fuck intelligent management! Spend, dickholes! Cubs and Mets and Orioles and Dodgers and White Sox fans can tell you that.

And Blue Jays fans.

I mean, it’s not like we didn’t exactly see Ricciardi’s later teams make poor decisions with money, which led to poor decisions at the trade deadline because the club desperately wanted to look like it was making good use of ownership’s investment, which basically would have led to the entire house of cards falling in on itself had Jose Bautista not materialized out of thin air.

But Baker rather easily dismisses the change of course that in two years brought a big commitment to Troy Glaus on board, as well as top free agents BJ Ryan, AJ Burnett and Frank Thomas, and a massive contract to their own Vernon Wells. “Those expenditures weren’t thought out all that well,” he writes, “but no matter. With the stadium in hand, franchise value kept on growing — up to $353 million in 2009, when Ricciardi was finally fired after years of seeing his ‘rebuilding plan’ go nowhere.”

No matter? Um… when you’re writing an article that attempts to show how a club has simply been used by their ownership as a way to shuttle revenue into other ventures, that time where they went ahead and spent a whole lot of money and it didn’t work out? Yes, matter.

Curiously, when the Jays extended Vernon Wells to his albatross seven-year $126-million deal in December of 2006 he was going into his age-28 season, as Prince Fielder is now. Wells’ 162 game average over the four years prior to signing was 32 home runs, 42 doubles, with a .292/.344/.509/.853 line. Fielder’s previous four years have seen him average 38 HR and 32 doubles per 162 games, with a .284/.400/.537/.936 line. Vernon, of course, played above average defence at a premium position at the time, which narrows the significant gap with the bat. According to FanGraphs Wells had been worth 16.8 WAR over the four year period, while Fielder has been worth 17 WAR. You can feel so good about a player that you’re ready to give him crazy money, that you think it’s worth the risk he declines, that it’s worth the risk he gets hurt, that he’ll be so good on the front end that the back end won’t matter so much, that he’s young enough that you can’t possibly take such a hit. And you can be really, really fucking wrong.

Oh, but the Jays’ reluctance to go hard after Fielder must be because Rogers– who, as we all know, don’t have any other ventures to bleed money from– need “to spend hundreds of millions in other sports arenas.”

That scoffed, I’m fully aware of Rogers propensity for being cheap motherfuckers– maybe they really do think Fielder is worth the back-end risk (note: ha!) and don’t have the budget to do it anyway– but holy fuck, Geoff Baker, maybe think for a second about how corporate ownership works before lecturing the fans and bloggers who are trying to make sense of what’s going on with their club within that context that they ought to be working harder to push that boulder up the hill.

“Let them sell you on why they can or can’t do certain things,” he says. Yeah! Stop just eating up this shit they’re shovelling, Toronto! Baker is bang on! It’s high time fans stop going to games until ownership shows that they’re ready to… oh… right…

“And if you’re going to try to read into it,” he says, “make sure you’re looking at the stuff that matters. Start at the very top and work your way on down. No, it’s not as easy as venturing to a website and adding up all the pertinent numbers. Nor as easy as watching the latest Brad Pitt movie. Sometimes, it takes some real legwork to find the answers and they won’t become apparent right away.”

Oh, fuck off.

Comments (353)

  1. MLBTR: Some teams prefer Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler to Yoenis Cespedes, Jim Callis of Baseball America writes. Had Soler been available in the 2010 amateur draft, Callis expects he
    would have been a top-five selection. Callis compares Soler to Royals outfield prospect Bubba Starling and says he’s more talented than Leonys Martin of the Rangers.

    I’m sold. Sign Soler please.

  2. What I’m saying is that for a owner as wealthy as Rogers (richest in baseball) that shouldn’t be a concern.

  3. Fullmer Fan needs to turn the page on his views about the Jays.  We all know Rogers is cheap, stop going on about it!

  4. My point is: you are not offering proof of you hunches. Fielder isn’t likely to regress, imo – if you compare him to other elite bats that have a high BMI.

    You’re basically taking a worst-case scenario of Wells (player just stops being good for some reason) and suggesting that this is the normal course that big free agents take. I’m saying that it is not. Usually such a decline is supported by peripheral evidence. In Wells’ case – he was always a bad risk. So much of his value – in terms of fWAR that Stoeten quoted – was derived from his defense. Defense is prtty much the main thing that is hard to measure for position players. Parkes wrote an article about how terrible Alomar was at defense this summer. Anyway, the point is: Fielder’s value has always come from the bat. If he has a bad year, he’s still better than Adam Lind having a terrific year.

    I’m saying – you have the ability to research who is in the Jays system to “naturally” “supplement” the team. I’m telling you: there are no 5-win players. There might end up being some 5-win pitchers coming in 2014/5, but chances are, even those arms will take longer to develop, and no guarantee that any of them amount to anything at this point. The system is “deep” but there is no one waiting in the wings to fill out lineup spots.

  5. http://www.nytimes.com/interac
    This puts a nice graphic on the correlation.

  6. contracts are insured.

  7. shut the fuck up already fullmer fan we heard you the first 100 times you just keep spewing same shit over and over believe its called diareah of mouth

  8. fourth place team, fourth place team. I’m sure he doesnt care at all.

  9. Fantastic.

  10. Of the top ten teams in payroll, all but the met’s and cubs have made it into the playoffs in the last few years.
     Of the ten bottom payroll teams only two have made it to the playoff’s.
    We might get better value with our wins, but were not in the playoff’s so who fucking cares.

  11. Yeah. I am taking the worst case scenario approach. I’d rather we play it safe until we can win high 80s naturally. So that AA will have ZERO excuse to not spend. For now it’s still understandable why he wouldn’t. I think we can do it with the players we have no already on the roster. 

    We have nobody in the system that projects to be remotely close to what Fielder is and he’s young, yes. I just don’t want us to risk it as of yet. I want to see what we have this year first. I would love for the Jays to get Fielder, but I don’t think the Jays will go after for now, from what AA has said before and I think it’s justified to a certain extent with his initial philosophy. AA knows more than me, maybe he will go in hard after Fielder and is doing so right now I don’t know. 

  12. Actually, I wanted them to go after Cliff Lee and Adrian Beltre. 

  13. Three teams who have won the world series in the last 5 years, I enjoy laughing at you.

  14. So explain why San Fran and St Louis won the past two World Series?  From this New York should win every year.

  15. They also won a world series in the last ten years, Whitesox fanbase has  alot more to cheer about with a world series in the last decade then we do.
    What do you not get about the world series that’s where you want to be?

  16. Payroll isnt even near 100 million with Fielder.
    Half the players you mentioned will not get much of a raise because they suck donkey dick.

  17. You are aware, of course, that the World Series playoffs are largely a random crapshoot and the best teams don’t always win, right?

    That’s why it’s so important to just be able to make them, which spending $ allows teams to do.

  18. They dont have to give out long term contracts this year no need.
    But sooner or later this team will have to offer more then a five year contract or they will never sign or resign good players.
    As the years move on, players will want more money and more years, sooner or later the Bluejays are going to have to act like every other fucking team.
    The blue jays say they want to be like the Rays, but we will resign our players unlike the rays because of our market Beestons words.
    However our bullshit policy dictates we will not be the rays because they lock young talent before they’re proven to long term deals something this club for whatever reason, doesnt believe in.
    Therefore will never get as much value out of young players in terms of dollars that the rays will, when our young guys need to be resigned players agent swill tell them not to resign with the blue jays becasue we can get 6-8 year contract offers on the open market.
    So players like , Rasmus,Morrow if these players improve and have two great seasons that will be enough for them to get more then 5 years. Wilson had a six year offer if Morrow puts it all together in the next two years he’s gone.
    Lawrie will never have a longoria type deal because six years is to much, he has to be a proven talent.
    The reason why the rays are so effective is becuase they sign these young unproven players to great contracts hoping they will continue to get better. The blue jays have not done this yet, until they do I will not trust this build within model they are currently doing.
    Until they lock up these young guys proven or not I will not believe they are following the Rays model. 

  19. What you’re not getting is that the idea they can do that is largely illusory.
    AA sold the fans on the idea he could exlpoit draft and IFA to build a team that would always be competitive.

    That makes sense.

    They just changed the collective bargaining agreement. it basically does a ton to make the draft cheaper for poor teams, prevent guys like the Rays and Jays from having 10 picks in the first 3 rounds, and cap all international spending. Basically, it makes it so small market teams can compete. it also place a more punitive luxury tax on teams spending over a certain amount.

    in short: it ended AA’s way of building the team. the huge scouting department may turn up some good picks, but they will need to turn 2nd round picks into Jon Lesters, and Dustin Pedroias, and so on.

    At the end of the day, guys might choose the ‘value of a vanderbilt education’ if only for the reason that they dream of playing for the yankees or redsox, and since they’re going to have to sign for slot value or close to it anyway, chances are it’s not as stupid as throwing a couple million bucks into the fire.

    The problem is, that just getting to the high 80s in wins means nothing. They’ve done that during the JPR years, and they were out of the race anyway. If you wait until then, you’re going to get fleeced. Fielder is on the market now, and the Yanks, Red Sox, Phils, Cards, Angels, and probably the Dodgers are all out of the bidding. Now is a good time to move. To say otherwise, carries far more risk. It is the risk that guys develop to fill the gaps that could be plugged now. it is the risk that elite players are available via trade to fill those gaps, and that the guys you trade don’t end up being the next matt moores.

  20. They were still closer to the playoffs then us ya cunt.
    Fuck you  2008 Cleveland.

  21. Sorry, this has dragged on too long. I’ll give AA the same time everybody gave JPR before I start getting pissed. As of now I’m fine with the way the team is being built. It just means it’ll be harder to build through the draft and getting extra picks. AA has proven many times that he is very creative. We’ll see what happens, God knows. 

  22. With more team success will bring more money to sustain it. You make it seem like these teams that go to the playoffs go all in with free agents and hope for the best. Texas is a very homegrown team, minus the bullpen, only three free agents signings on their teams, Beltre,  Torrealba, and Lewis (from Japan). Same goes for the Rays. If you know where to spend the 30+ million then I’d love to hear it. I’m pretty sure AA doesn’t want to spend money recklessly because that’s supposedly how you win. Money is how you sustain a winner, not build one.

  23. Until he wins something, he’s not great or terrible he’s just a fucking GM with mind control, or very strong Kool Aid. If you drink it you think he’s a god, greek god.

  24. If those injuries do happen…then more reason why we need to go out and either buy in free agency or trade prospects for more players.

    If you’re saying we should stay away from signing high salary, impact players because we are fearful that the other players will get hurt….well then you’d never make any transactions under that scenario.

  25. The Jays are already doing what you want them to.

    See:  Romero’s contract.

  26. Look at this:
    https://spreadsheets.google.co

    That’s who they have and when they control them to. Lawrie’s Arb years aren’t even set yet. Fielder’s contract will basically be over by the time Lawrie would ever be close to being a free agent, and chances are they give him a Matt Moore deal at some point this year anyway to option off a few of his free agent years.
    Colby Rasmus, aka Corey Patterson (Mud Kickin’ Version)? Why should he factor in to long term conversations? Adam Lind already has the “guy with one good year” thing down pat.

  27. Rasmus can actually defend though.

  28. Rangers also benefited from trading Texeira and getting back Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Elvis Andrus. 3 starters on their current roster.

    Although it took the Rangers sucking for 5 years before they unloaded their star…and another 3 years to develop those players they acquired via trade.

    So I guess in another 3 years…the Jays can trade Bautista for prospects…and then hope that all 3 will develop into everyday starters by 2018.

    Sounds like a great plan there buddy!

  29. Hmm… Didn’t the Jays trade Halladay for prospects already? Ah, yes they did. I think we all expect d’Arnaud, Drabek, and Gose to make an impact (or be traded for impact players). I’m saying the teams main strengths come from trades or drafting, not free agency. That’s what I’m arguing, and I’m showing so with teams that have gained success through trading and drafting. 

  30. Based on what? UZR hates him the last 2 years, and things Patterson is passsable.

    Same with Total Zone.

    In fact, Patterson has some really awesome fielding stats from back when he was the next big thing. Rasmus…really doesn’t even have that.

  31. Spending has a weak positive correlation to wins

  32. Hey dumb fuck, who cares how much you’re spending on wins as long as you’re getting them? Also, the playoffs are a complete and utter crap shoot so referencing them doesn’t help your argument. I do, however, agree with your statement that it’s not how much you spend but how you spend it (but you still have to fucking spend it). 

  33. Don’t really go with advanced metrics for defense, maybe I should but I just don’t. But asking you, from watching him, would you say Rasmus is a bad defender, or good? 

  34. I am aware of a lot of things in baseball.  But I disagree with throwing money at players.  If you want to spend money, spend it on blue chip prospects who are going to carry a team.  You only go after a Cliff Lee type when you need to get over the top. The Jays spent a few years ago on guys who did nothing to get them over the top.  The Yankee model only works for them and them alone.  Turn the page and move on.

  35. He has good range, and I think he makes pretty good reads on the ball when I watch him. He makes nice catches. Sometimes he’s slow to get going, but once he sees it, he’s on it. He’s enjoyable to watch in centre, but he’s not the best I’ve ever seen or anything, and he doesn’t get to every ball by any stretch of the imagination.

    His main problem, in my opinion, is what he does once he gets the ball. I can remember one occasion when he threw the ball to the wrong bag. There’s no excuse for that. This is likely why people say he doesn’t “have his head in the game”. Also, Bautista was always calling off the CF before Rasmus got there, and even once he was there I saw him cede to Bautista on occasions when it was clearly his ball. That bugs me, but says more about Bautista than Rasmus, it should have been clear from day one: this is the new CF, he calls you off, it’s his. Part of the reason Bautista has so many outfield assists is because he takes so many CF balls.

  36. Which is why it’s a misleading and fairly useless statistic to go by when after all is said and done the target for success is a moving one.  We’ve seen teams scrape by and get in with low 80′s in win column and other teams win 90 and get the shaft.  Furthermore, not all wins are created equal as a result of the unbalanced schedule and the shifting nature of opponents for interleague play.

    Multiple studies show over the course of many years that spending = greater success in getting to the playoffs. You can argue with that if you want, but a 60% success rate for the teams with the top 10 payrolls over the last 12 years is pretty hard to ignore as anything but compelling. Sure you can choose a single year and spin it how you like but one year doesn’t make a trend.

    It would be far better to argue about who and what you spend the dollars on. How often does giving free agent contracts to relievers at a certain stage of their career pay off? FanGraphs did an awesome piece on that. How often does it pay to give young guys who are 27 and younger a long-term contract? Questions along those lines would yield far more interesting answers imo.

  37. I can’t bring myself to outright agree with Baker’s assertions that we (fans and blogs) might be doing Rogers’ dirty work for them (though if we do, it’s out of admiration for what AA has done and because we trust what he says, not because we want to believe the best of Rogers), but I can respect the point he’s trying to make.  It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Jays fans were manipulated by the team/Rogers in the early 2000′s. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they’re doing it now. So Rogers had this whole other priority we knew nothing about in which it was in their best longterm interests not to invest in the team at that time so as to deliberately keep stadium (and by extension team) profits low.  That upsets me. The objective to buy the park was outright incompatible with winning, even if we agree  that it was ultimately in the team’s best interest to own the park they play in.

    So I ask, do sports team owners have the obligation to field the best team sometimes, or each and every single year? Is winning a first priority for Rogers – or is it the ONLY first priority and everything else comes second do that? And if Rogers did it then, why wouldn’t they do it now? (I’m not saying their interest in MLSE has IMO affected how they are operating the ball club, but I do believe winning isn’t any less important to them than some of their other, related and unrelated corporate interests. )

    There’s plenty of evidence that Rogers is investing in the team in other ways, as DJF and Getting Blanked remind us so often, so I’m not on the ledge. But I do find myself asking, when SHOULD we start expecting payroll to rise?  Especially given what we have in Bautista.

  38. Yea, WS winners since 2004 found in upper right quadrant (high payroll/high win total).

    Also shows the Mets and Cubs the only non-rebuilding teams with high payrolls and poor performance.

  39. Here’s how i see it going down….

    AA: Hey Scotty B, I hear there isn’t a big market for ya boy Prince

    Boras: Nah bro, i’ve got the cubs and nats in a bidding war as we speak.

    AA: Fuck that noise, i just got off the phone with Epstein, you lying cunt.

    Boras: Yeah, you caught me bro, doesn’t matter though, you boys don’t have the cha ching.

    AA: Prince is what, 4 yrs younger than Albert? Tell em’ you guys can get an albert type deal from those dumb fuck yankees after tex expires and they see Prince mash the fuck out of them with us over the next 4-5yrs. 

    Boras: Yeah brosef, i guess i can throw you a bone for letting me have johnny heys float your guys name around. Don’t know if P-Fielder is gonna go for it though.

    AA: Yo, just tell that fat son of a bitch that we’ve got some world class restaurants up in here, and i can swing free digital cable and cell phone service for life. 

    Boras: yeah it’s a go.  

  40. Jays Fans: we want fielder for 3 years! Then he can be a free agent again!

    Boras: ok – what would you say that’s worth?

    Jays Fans: 3/90 – work for you?

    Boras: that sounds great to me. So the first 3 years you’ll pay prince 30 million per. It was nice of you to offer the opt-out clause, i thought that would be much harder to get given the years we’re demanding. So, then the next 5 we’ll step that down to 25million per. A practical steal!

    Jays Fans: wait…what just happened?

    Boras: you got boras’d, bitch! (ironic use of bitch never going to get old amirite?  :/ ….)

  41. Great perspective regarding the desire for the team to spend big on Fielder vs criticism of the Wells deal.

    This coming from someone who was excited over the (faux) news about the Jays and Fielder as well as being highly critical of the Wells deal.

  42. I think in these examples there is too much value going to just World Series titles over just having something exciting to watch on the field.

    The reason that the big teams spend is not only to hopefully win a World Series, but also give their fans something to get excited about and pull for.

    Obviously I would love a World Series first and foremost, but I also want a team that is exciting to watch, day in, and day out. Free Agents tend to be exciting players that fans are familiar with.

    Yes, spending more money doesn’t guarantee a World Series. But it does guarantee that you will be in a position where IT IS POSSIBLE, which keeps fans entertained and engaged.

    IF you got Fielder, I would say that there would a small possibility that the Jays could get a Wild Card, and then who knows?…. If you don’t get Fielder, there is NO POSSIBILITY…. tough to sell hope to fans with no possibility, and that’s what we’ve had going on for almost 20 years.

    I certainly wouldn’t mind a little excitement next year! But as always, I do trust AA at this point….. only at this point…. if we are having the same conversation next year, I’ll be pissed!

  43. He was proven, one good year in the AL East is enough, why not lawrie or Alvarez.
    The Rays would have already locked them up.

  44. Laughing at them all recently winning the World Series? 

  45. Baseball contracts are only insured when a player is on the disabled list for a minimum of time – around 50 games I believe. Plus they usually only cover 50% of the contract.

  46. The Phillies have won as many World Series titles as the Jays in the past 20 years. The Yankees outspend the majority of teams by double. The Red Sox are the Red Sox. What’s not funny?

  47. The scenarios i responded to was: freak accident ends Fielders career. From what i’ve read Joey Belle’s situation led to the Orioles not getting totally screwed when he went down for good.

  48. gettinh high quality players would drive some of the fans on this board nuts. They prefer getting obscure prospects. A few years ago they were hyper for Brett wallace. How did that work out?

    I laugh at the anti Fielder comments.

  49. Very interesting post. It’s fascinating to see what this board would have been like in 1992 7 1993. Would fans be outraged at the jays for trying to win the world series by making trades that brought vets in shortt erm? Would fans lament the loss of prospects that were traded to get guys that could help you win in the playoffs?

    Wasn’t Dustin parkes opposed to resigning bautista since the picks were more valuable than Bautista’s one year wonder?

    The Baker article spells out the shenanigans by Rogers. They deliberately picked Billy Beane disciple JP Riccardi over dave Stewart, because Stewart wanted to build a core around Delgado whereas JP promised a championship for 50 million.

    If i ran a restaurant, & I could convince my customers that my hamburger patties were filet mignon, i would be verry happy as well.

  50. Agreed. AA will have to find a more expensive way to build the team. the farm is pretty strong for now.

    We are lucky that many teams don’t need fielder this year. He is at a relative discount compared to what he would get if the yankees & red sox wanted him.

  51. Agreed. I renewed my flexpack & looking forward to 2012 with or without Fielder.Last week’s payroll parameters & Beeston’s ” fans have to come out & we will build it ” is frustrating.

    The team should be better in 2012. Of course, regression with bautista, Lawrie could happen.

    I have April 9th circled on mycalendar.

  52. Fyi – for the italics it’s < i> and < /i> around the phrase you want italicized (without the spaces) and the same using b for bold!

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