Warning: apc_store(): Potential cache slam averted for key 'w3tc_blogs.thescore.com_object_bd03d6a483e0f8f6247de1d771a2d2bb' in /opt/blogs/wp-content/plugins/w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/Apc.php on line 41 The Off-Season Turns the Corner | Drunk Jays Fans | Blogs | theScore.com

So the off-season has finally turned that long corner towards spring, with the best free agent finally off the market, as Prince Fielder is a Detroit Tiger, agreeing Tuesday to a nine-year contract worth $214-million.

I’m certain that it won’t, but hopefully this puts an end to some of the hysteria about the Jays and Rogers and payroll, which by the end of the saga was largely being driven by the ultra-naive assumption that Fielder was there for the taking on the cheap. The notion was pretty remarkable; premised on the idea that a supposedly-cratering market for a player wasn’t a sign that maybe clubs had huge reservations about him, but that Rogers was simply dropping the ball and punting it into the nearest piss puddle– most likely to be found beneath the pant legs of the nearest wailing Jays fan.

This, of course, wasn’t the case. Scott Boras got a princely sum for his client (see what I just did there?), and my hope is that the enormous back-end cost (see what I just did there?) will calm the firestorm. And perhaps it already has.

Yet, something still sticks in my craw about all this, which is basically the central theme of the entire off-season: the fact that so many people seem keen to live by this delusion where they insist Rogers and the Jays and Alex Anthopoulos operate against their own interests in some kind of a fantasy world that gives fans instant, short-sighted gratification.

Rogers’ ownership of the Jays has always been, in large part, a means by which to provide cheap content to their media platforms. I’ve heard the argument made that they should, but they’re simply not going to look at the market prices being paid by regional cable networks in the United States for MLB broadcast rights and decide that they owe it to the Jays to provide them something equivalent. Avoiding these kinds of escalating, already astronomical costs was the exact basis for the acquisition of MLSE by Rogers and BCE– well, that and the seeming inability of sports franchises to go down in value, regardless of how poorly they’re managed. Yes, they could spend more on the club, and it’s frustrating at times that they won’t, but it’s foolish and futile to expect them to.

Precisely because of that futility, the vision Alex Anthopoulos has set forth– the one he was assuredly hired on the basis of– requires him to be a prudent manager of assets, and to build the club through an emphasis on the draft, scouting, and player development. He was present through the Ricciardi years, and certainly saw not the untenable bargain with cheap motherfucker Rogers so many fans want to cast the GM’s relationship ownership as, but his predecessor hoisted on his own petard, reaching a point where he was unable to convince his bosses to continue spending good money after bad.

Now, Rogers’ cynical decision to close the purse strings, fire Ricciardi– eventually– and commence rethinking organizational strategy was clearly the best one for their bottom line and not necessarily the baseball club. But with a system lacking in high-end talent, a star player ready to jump ship, and a middling player being paid like a megastar, the decision made was palatable to both the fan base and the accounting department, gave Anthopoulos a clean slate, and as such is difficult to argue against. But don’t doubt that Rogers’ willingness to make it has been extremely instructive to Anthopoulos and Beeston.

Fielder’s availability this winter was a moment that many fans felt was so opportune that the Jays couldn’t possibly let it pass– a perceived opportunity for the club to make real headway in the American League East– based on the thorough misunderstanding of utterances from the club that they could eventually go to $120-million in payroll, and that money will be there when it’s needed. It’s needed now, some insisted. However, much like those fans’ similar despair over Anthopoulos missing out on top pitching trade targets, in my view, they have undersold the cost of such a move in their own minds, and overstated the impact.

Mat Latos was moved to Cincinnati from San Diego for the players MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo– hardly the be-all, end-all, but to use as a handy example– ranked as the second-best first base prospect in baseball, the sixth-best catching prospect, and further pieces still.

If the Padres viewed Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal similarly, realistically the Jays would have needed a Lawrie-plus-d’Arnaud- or Arencibia-fronted package to top it– a price that, given Lawrie’s popularity and maple-dick-explodingly awesome debut, can’t be viewed as anything but too steep. Yet many fans, often with the most smug, assholishness they can muster, piss and moan about deals that weren’t done this winter, insisting that Anthopoulos did something unforgivable by not forcing anything to happen, by not conjuring up a fantasy deal that would have added a huge piece to the Major League roster without giving one up in return, by not offering false hope for 2012 at the expense of 2013 and beyond.

Fielder, of course, is different. His cost comes only in terms of dollars, but they’re enormous dollars– dollars that might seem a terrific expenditure in the early years of the deal, but pose a great deal of risk on the back-end. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a consideration for Alex Anthopoulos, given the tremendous wealth his owners are backed by, but it has to be. He can’t live in the world, real as it may be, where Rogers ought to have no problem risking potential sunk cost, because it’s not their sunk cost, it’s his sunk cost. After earning his promotion on the back of a player development-based vision, it’s not really his place to go to ownership and demand, even though a Fielder or a Darvish may only get them close to where they want to be– may still only lead to half-full stadiums in a mid-August out of the race– that they should assume the risk on those kinds of deals, since, if they don’t produce immediate results, hey, we’re Rogers, we can always spend more next year.

Some fans seem to feel betrayed by Rogers and Paul Beeston based on the logic-defying notion that if the club hasn’t skyrocketed payroll yet, they’re never going to; that because they haven’t seen the coming wave of prospects yet, they’re being asked to chase vapours; that because they’re hearing the all-too-familiar refrain of “wait another year,” the club is destined for more of the mediocre same in perpetuity.

I guess I understand the impulse to roll one’s eyes at more pleas for patience, but it takes a pretty severe blind spot to mistake the reasons Anthopoulos is doing it for the ones Ricciardi gave.

Under the old GM, by the end, we were sold on the hope that if everything broke right, everyone stayed healthy, everyone performed at their peak, and one of the teams ahead of us faltered, maybe we had a chance. It wasn’t incorrect, but there simply didn’t exist for him, perhaps because of a lack of job security, the same kind of acknowledgement of reality– about the attrition rate of prospects, about how to approach the trade deadline or the draft, about the most efficient ways to acquire the high-end talent needed to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Fans have been discouraged by this off-season, often failing to grasp how little fruit we’ve yet seen borne by Anthopoulos’s labours, while the Geoff Bakers of the world asininely scoff from their high horses about bloggers defending their clubs’ decisions to stay the course. But while Baker may be right about Rogers’ crass, cynical cheapness on the whole, given the reality Alex Anthopoulos is forced to operate in, the best course of action he could have taken– for the sake of his own job, and by extension the franchise– is this. The Jays may not be contenders in 2012, but fans should take an immense amount of comfort in the fact that they’ll continue to load up in their preparation for unleashing hell on the American League in the following seasons.

Think about it: much like the later years under Ricciardi, the club is good– it’s close to contention– but, as constructed, it can’t not fall short, especially given it’s residence in the toughest division in baseball. However, this time there’s no magical short window that must be hoped and aimed for. This time we’re not waiting on the dramatic false hope of a free agent coup, or one high-end prospect or two progressing quickly and without setback. In 2012, we’re talking about maybe the best farm system in the Majors, with wave after wave of multiple prospects due to come over the next several years, six more early-round picks for 2012, and at least six years of Major League team control for every single one of them who has yet to hit Toronto– not to mention team-friendly contracts coming literally out the ass. [OK, maybe not literally... unless!]

What Anthopoulos has done this winter simply is not just an extension of the previous regime. And as long as Rogers owns the club, it’s also the only way it’s going to work. Not only that, it is working, just maybe not fast enough for those fans who find so much catharsis in pissing and moaning, or the writers who lack either the intelligence or the compunction that would otherwise stop them from transparently preying on such instincts.

Comments (208)

  1. good read, bang on … still jealous of the tigers though for the next 3 years.

    should be a fun season.  If 2 of 1B/LF/CF return to form/or fulfill expectations, the jays could be competitive all year long. . they won’t make the playoffs, but they will be better than last year.

  2. Clap…Clap…Clap.  Common sense is a beautiful thing.

  3.  If the extra wild card is added , it could even be closer then expected.

  4. Hear fucking hear

  5. The proverbial window is the prime years of arguably the best hitter in baseball right now.  When the farm is ready to bear it’s fruit as you put it, you’re not just talking about supplementing Bautista, you’re talking about also having to replace 4 or 5 wins once he declines.  It’s a frustrating cycle. 

  6. Assuming they keep him through the decline.

    Also… jesus, people are up? Work in progress here!

  7. Yup, Bautista is the wildcard that makes this discussion so interesting.

    We were all on board and ready for the team to shit the bed after the Halladay trade/Rios & Rolen dumpings but then Bautista happened and added like 7 wins to the team in 2010 and 2011 by himself, got the fans excited and made us realize that we are probably a lot closer to contending than AA and Rogers originally intended for the team to be.

  8. Yup, Bautista is the wildcard that makes this discussion so interesting.

    We were all on board and ready for the team to shit the bed after the Halladay trade/Rios & Rolen dumpings but then Bautista happened and added like 7 wins to the team in 2010 and 2011 by himself, got the fans excited and made us realize that we are probably a lot closer to contending than AA and Rogers originally intended for the team to be.

  9. you know, i’ve tried to dispel this negativity and i found this video very therapeutic: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    i initially looked at the twitches, but then i found myself playing some excellent music, go figure,

  10. I just did my own little study. of the top 20 salaries last year, none made the world series. only 7 made the playoffs or 35%. not a good probability when you’re spending 20+ million. also of those 7, four were yankees.  that leaves 3/20 or 15%.  so the odds are not good that pujols/fielder are going to vault their teams to the world series or even make the playoffs.

    it’s interesting to note that 2 players that did make the world series, holliday and young were ranked 21 and 22. so as long as you’re not paying top 20 money, it makes sense to sign expensive players as you’ll be able to sign more of them.

    also of the top 25 contracts, you can see that about 12 of them are outright bad. that means that fielder has about a 50/50% chance of making that contract look good.

    http://content.usatoday.com/sp

  11. I agree with most of that, but as others have alluded to, Bautista really does change the equation. At minimum, AA should have gone out and replaced Lind, he of the abysmal stick and mediocre defence, with pretty much anyone. Pena would have been okay. A deal for a Rizzo or a Smoak would’ve been nice as well. 

    Going into the 2012 season with Adam Lind at first base is a mistake, though. If he turns it around, great; we can spend all kinds of time talking about how much of an anomaly he is. More likely, he’ll flame out, and we’ll have to think of another excuse for his sordid, impatient approach at the plate that isn’t: a) being a DH, and b) working out too hard. 

    I can’t really think of anyone in pro sports who gets more slack for doing a shit job than Adam Lind. 

    He truly is blessed. 

  12. funny how jose canseco canspeako english (see what I did there?)  perfectly but yunel  still only knows the word hello in english.

  13. Okay, as ignorant as I am about stats, let’s do a Prince Fielder 2-Point Buck  in terms of HR/AVG: 530/2.90. Yeah, I want that guy on my team for the next seven years, even if you have to eat the last two.

    Anyway, I have a silk-screener lined up for my Vizquel jersey. And yeah, it’s….,

    sigh

  14. I don’t necessarily agree, but I think Wilner nailed the company line during the radio hit with me last weekend: he was great in 2009, awful in 2010, then looking great again in 2011 until he got hurt. If the Jays truly believe that, I understand why they’re going with him again, especially given the contract, and especially since I think Rasmus, Lawrie and Johnson are already terrific upgrades, if you think about it that way.

    If the Jays are cynically saying that they believe in Lind but really just hoping for the best, that’s another story. But… honestly, they just don’t have the pitching anyway, so I don’t think Lind is where you point to how they’re not doing right by Bautista at all.

  15. Canseco left Cuba for Miami when he was a very small child, you fucking fool. Didn’t you read Juiced?

  16. mud_pie…. your scientific rigor and understanding of correlation, causation … on point

  17. Great post.  I’m glad not once was ‘lightning in a bottle’  referenced.  Fuck JP.  Would we like to have seen Prince in the blue and white?  Fuck yeah!  But 9 years is a joke.  I think what AA has  or hasn’t done, takes some serious balls.  He is staying the course of of building from the farm up – starting with the Doc trade and then locking up assets (Romero, Morrow and that Bautista guy) and making ninja like trades (Escobar, Lawrie, Santos) to add to the core for the long run.  Will he fuck up?  Probably – we all do.  Judge him on what he has done and its tough to find more than one fault (Tyler Beede).  I may chirp from the comfort of my couch or yell at the fan – but you can’t help believe we ARE going in the right direction.  Go Drunk Jays Go

  18. Rogers wouldn’t be operating against their own interests by spending money on this team, though. It’s in their interest to make the Jays a consistently winning ballclub. In spending money (really, it would nice to even have a league-average payroll at this point),  they’d simply be taking on a greater risk in order to win (while hopefully getting a huge return on their investment later). If they trust Anthopoulos to spend it well, I don’t see what the problem is (well, other than trying to explain that kind of commitment to their shareholders that don’t give a shit about how many games the Jays win).

    And the issue isn’t whether any of the fans expect them to. I think most people have recognized Rogers’ propensity for cheapness over the last decade and knows they likely won’t break the bank to make this team a contender any time soon. The issue, though, is that they could and they probably should. With the best hitter in baseball on a great contract and a team full of young, talented, cost-controllable players throughout the roster, there was really no better time than now to try to contend. Another big bat and a starting pitcher might have propelled this team right near the top of the AL East. Without them, we’re looking  at another mediocre 80+ win season barring some kind of 2008 Rays-like surge with our young players.

    And while it’s not the same kind of window that it was for Ricciardi,  the longer they wait to contend, the shorter the time they’re going to have with their top players in Bautista, Escobar, and Romero in their primes. We don’t know how much longer Bautista, for example, is going to hit like this. So in essence, it’s the same problem. By the time the rest of the team is ready (if that ever happens…prospects and young players routinely fail in living up to expectations), Jose may have already begun his decline, which would obviously hinder their chances significantly (considering they’re certainly not going to go out to pay exorbitant prices on elite free agents to replace him in such a situation). We need to take advantage of our elite players while we actually have them. Rogers didn’t do that with either Delgado or Halladay. And they’re at risk of doing the same with Bautista. There shouldn’t be any defense for that.

  19. So, aside from Bautista and Romero who is a sure thing on this club?  No one.  All the question marks fail and that arm and bat will do what?  fuck all…

  20. Rasmus is a joke.. all stats aside – we all saw him at the plate and he was lost.  He wont be the first or last ‘prospect’ to sink

  21. The biggest problem with Adam Lind (that Wilner has never really mentioned, I should add) is that he can’t hit lefties whatsoever. We have an entire career’s worth of data on that point and it has nothing to do with any injury. If the Jays believe he can still hit righties, they might be right. But there is little reason to think he’s suddenly going to become good against pitchers from the other side.

    Knowing that, starting him full-time makes little sense, especially when a platoon would be a very easy solution to this issue.

    Really, I’d love to see them sign Manny and have him come in 50 games into the season (after Lind has sufficiently proven he cannot hit lefties once again). He could DH against lefties with EE taking 1st base on those days. Considering Andruw Jones just signed for only $2M to do a similar job, I can’t imagine Manny costing more than the minimum.

  22. So what do the jays do with him?  He’s got little to no value in a trade – are you going to sign someone to platoon and drive his value even less?  Fuck that, he’s playing this season out to see exactly what kind of player he is.  Aaron Hill?  Hope not

  23. Very true.

  24. I know we don’t have a ton of other options, and I love Manny.. but really?  Look at the dynamics of this team and you think he’s gonna slide in, no problem?  He couldn’t even hit a fast ball on ‘roids

  25. You asshole! Don’t shit on Lind. Have faith. All of you assholes who shit on Lind can fuck yourselves! He’ll prove you all wrong.

  26. You asshole! Don’t shit on Lind. Have faith. All of you assholes who shit on Lind can fuck yourselves! He’ll prove you all wrong.

  27. I could not agree more! 

  28. Ziggy played first base…

  29. Lind ops’d .780 against lefties in ’09. i do concede that he shit the ops bed in ’10 vs. lefties at  .341 and was unspectacular in ’11 with an ops of .639……

    but he did prove (at least for one year) that he has the capacity to hit lefties.

  30. So they are looking at 80+ wins but one big bat and starting pitcher would put them at the top of the AL east (95-97 wins) Who are these super megastar free agents worth 15 wins between them? :o

  31. He had a .870 OPS in his last season in baseball (2010…not counting the uselessly small sample size that was 2011). That is better than anybody on this team outside of Bautista and Lawrie had last season. Yes…if he, in fact, has something left, I don’t think he’ll have any problem sliding in.

  32. He has a career .615 OPS against lefties. 2009 was the aberration (and he wasn’t even that good then either).

  33. holy shit, shane has not posted in an hour. somebody better file a missing persons report.

  34. I see the Jays as a 85 win team right now (it’s hard not to considering their record last year and the amount of scrubs they had on the roster for a large bulk of the season). It’s a really a range between 80-90 depending on how their young players perform. So yes, two impact players would have likely put them right in position to contend with the best in their division.

  35. If the jays spent this much last year (85 mill) it would have put them into the top 20 spenders. I’ll feel rogers is committed to winning when spending reaches top 10 Which would have been 106 at opening day last year.
    I see being in the top 20 for this season is a necessity to avoid being called cheap fucks.

  36. Did you attach your resume to the article for Rogers? Geesh. 

    It’s quite apparent that since you can’t make a logical counter argument, insulting those that realize how cheap Rogers is is your only recourse.

    While some here want to spend until the cows come home,  others like myself realize that while spending for spendings sake does not automatically bring a contender,  improving the team by spending at least to the leagues average would improve the club’s chances dramatically.

    Spending through free agency or trade to get the much needed 2 and 3 starting pitching is the huge missing piece on this team. Without any starting pitching depth there is no room for error.  If just one domino falls, be it Cecil, Morrow, Alvarez or any other potential starter, than we’ll be seeing the overworked bullpen collapse and the revolving door of last years starers begin.

    It shouldn’t be an either/or situation. Waiting for the sake of waiting without signing any meaningful free agents is just as gullible an idea as signing every free agent under the sun. A bit of both is what works for most good teams.

  37. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
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    http://tohellwithbaberuth.band… 

  38. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
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  39. It’s been 2 years into the rebuild. 2. years.

  40. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
    and the band sums it up pretty well:

    http://tohellwithbaberuth.band… 

  41. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
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  42. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
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  43. i’ve been banned! 

  44. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
    and the band sums it up pretty well:

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  45. man, this is fucked! how shitty, my points suck to begin with without the clerical errors.

  46. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
    and the band sums it up pretty well:

    http://tohellwithbaberuth.band… 

  47. http://idioms.thefreedictionar
    and the band sums it up pretty well:

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  48. Is there a wait time before new GMs are allowed to get free agents? I don’t see why improving the starting pitching is a bad thing.

    Or would you rather wait until Bautista and Romero demand to be traded to a contender and start the rebuild over again?

  49. Great article! Calling Rogers cheap is unfair, they have put money into scouting and signing their picks and international free agents. AA has done a fantastic job if you look at this roster two years ago, and compare it to today! 2 years, that’s it! As a fanbase we need to be patient. Let’s not trade the farm just yet, or break the bank for a bad contract. 

  50. Good post. I’m willing to give the AA benefit of the doubt until I feel that Rogers will never pony any dough and the Jays are really really truly one or two deals away from perennial playoffs. If the Jays can become like the Braves teams that got to the plays like 14 years in a row b/c of this way I will be thrilled. 2012+ should be very interesting to see what the prospects can do. I want the season to start nowwwww

  51. Trading Bautista in his prime would be a PR nightmare that I’m not sure Rogers wants to navigate, they have trouble getting people to the park as is and are only now starting to see an upswing in the popularity of the team.

    Isn’t there a profile of Anthopoulos that contains a pretty spicy pull quote. Something to the effect of if the organization fails to build a worthy, contending team around Bautista in his prime then it would be a failure?(Pretty sure this exists, please correct me if I’m wrong).

    I’m not against it if the trade is right and they want to delay the timeline to coincide with the wave of high ceilings prospects on the way. I just don’t think they’ll do it.

  52. If you had looked at Lind’s numbers before you made your comment, you would have seen that he has a +WAR, and his fielding percent is better than league average. He also only made 4 errors in 109  games ( projects to 6 over 162 games) at first last year – not bad for a first season. Fielder made 15 in 160 games. He was also better defensively than Texiera, who all the talking heads absolutely rave about.
    He also hit 26 homers last year, in what was for him a down year, and playing mostly with a sore back., while re-learning a position he hadn’t played since college.
    Not bad for “he of the abysmal stick and mediocre defence”

  53. Would you favor trading Bautista at the end of 2012? This would help AA deal with angry fans who want a competitive team for 2013.

    Bautista doesn’t fit on the team because his peak is 2012 & 2013,  the peak of the other players is around 2014 & 2015.

    Of course, AA would face a backlash from the media & most casual fans.

    You mention  that Rogers acquired the Jays is for cheap content, which acknowledges the value of sports properties.

    Wouldn’t sports properties like the Jays have more value if the team performed better?

    Will TV ratings stay strong for a perpetual 80-85 win team with new prospects each year?

    It seems that Rogers hS A CHOICE TO MAKE FOR 2013.

  54. real talk.

  55. ..

  56. Very well said.  Most business majors would agre that for a relatively modest payroll upgrade 20- 25 million per year , you coudl have got a good bat & a veteran pitcher for 1 year.

    You could have also acquired a young pitcher with upside etc….

    It is quite easy to do the math & see how revenues would increase by more than 20- 25 million.

    From a marketing perspective, it would beeasier to see season tickets in february, if fans were convinced that the Jays will compete for a playoff spot now.

    Even if the Kids make a push in 2012, it would only become aaparent to casual fans by July & August, you miss the chance to sell tickets in April,May & June.

  57. Rogers has also increased the meal allowances for players in the minor leagues so they can by healthier foods.

    The spending in the minor leagues has improved overall, but you have to consider the extra number of picks they have .

    Overall the franchise still spends far below the league average yet they are in the top division.

    Rogers payroll belongs in the AL Central or NL West.

  58. Even if fans revolted, Rogers would have the support of Rogers media. Wilner would approve since he prefers Randy Ruiz. Several blogs would drool over the prospects that Bautista would bring.

    #sarcsm.

    Brunt said Bautista is unhappy with the Jays for lack of protection provided to him for 2012. AA said Bautista wants to buy a house in Toronto and asked for real estate advice.

    AA suggested Bautista wait a fe years to buy a house , and suggested a fixer upper. :))

  59. Good article, but I have to take issue with your premise that the Blue Jays are on a limited budget because Rogers wants “cheap content” for Sportsnet, and therefore pays less than market value for the TV rights. In the case of MLSE, this would definitely not be the case, or you would have a shareholders’ revolt at Bell. There would be a like occurrence as well, if word got around that TSN ws willing to pay more than Rogers for the TV feed.
    The savings in vertical marketing come both from economies of scale, plus the fact that large chunks of money can be moved from large pockets into many smaller pockets, and we all know that we pay less taxes when you earn less money.
    The real reason Rogers isn’t spending money this year is because it isn’t time yet. There are still a lot of questions about the team they have in place to predict whether one or 2 expensive pieces would put them over the top.
    Example 1: 1991 Blue Jays. They had already been to the ALCS twice with a proven core, and Alomar and Carter were already in place when White and Winfield were signed.
    Example 2: 2011 Texas Rangers: They went to the World Series in 2010 on a $65 million payroll, and it wasn’t until attendance approached 3 million that the payroll jumped significantly.
    Example 3: 2012 Miami Marlins. The Marlins sucked big time in 2011. They went out and spent a whole ton of money on big name players and they are still going to suck.

  60. wow, the author of this article is a Rogers dick-riding fool.  Maybe if you werent too busy giving your cell phone head you’d realize whats going on here.  The wool is completely pulled over your eyes.  Rogers is a terrible owner

  61. neh, in the years to come, non of this will be an issue

  62. http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Base

    Jesus. Fucking. Christ. It has been 18 years of mediocre baseball in Toronto. 18. Fucking. Years.

    They wonder why fans don’t come out to the ballpark. That’s the only number they have to pay attention too:

    18 years.

  63. Why was my comment removed? Because it was Anti-Rogers? Couldn’t have been because of the cursing, because there is more than enough of that on this site????

  64. Given your commentary I expected an article wondering where all the fans went.  That’s not what it’s about at all.

  65. Come on down from Mount Sinai, Moses.  This isn’t the perfect organization and this wasn’t the perfect off-season.  They went in looking for a closer, a big bat and a starter.  They got multiple closers.  I applaud the creativity of that move but it came about because they could not afford what they wanted to get either in money or in trade pieces.  And there is no guarantee that Cordero/Santos/Oliver will do better than Rauch/Dotel/Francisco.  

    You’ve got a high-flying farm system that could be full of wonderful stuff, but instead of complementing that with some established stars that can help the kids learn and help the team win, AA is being forced to dumpster-dive for other people’s discarded crap that was put out for a reason.  This isn’t AA’s fault–he’s between a rock and a hard place.  But in a few years it will be interesting to look back and see how the If You Come We Will Build It philosophy is working.

  66. Preaching patience is all good, but a few points to consider:

    1) If it would have taken Lawrie to get Latos, then I agree with your analysis. If, on the other hand, a package built around d’Arnaud and Gose could have gotten the job done, then I think it was a mistake. Latos was the most valuable pitcher on the market this off-season, and you guys doing the blogging did not discuss the failure to obtain him enough. Gio is overrated, Darvish was a risk, but Latos would have been perfect. 

    2) Fielder is obviously overpaid. But the numbers do not suggest that it is a gross overpayment. Further, we currently have one of, if not the worst, 1B in the league playing for our team. I don’t care what Wilner has to say on the matter, I’m with Fullmer Fan here. We’re currently hoping against all odds, that Lind turns it around, and it is incredibly unclear what back up plan we have in place if he doesn’t. We have no 1B in the minors that is a viable candidate, and it is incredibly rare that a 27 year old prime hitter hits the open market.  

    3) I agree 100% with Fullmer Fan that Latos + Fielder makes the Jays a very competitive team. Further, it is a team that will become even more competitive in 2013 and 2014 as the younger players come into their own. And to reiterate the points made above, Bautista is in his prime now, not later. He has another three years of elite production at most, in all likelihood.

    I trust AA, and he has done an absolutely outstanding job. But as reporters/bloggers, it makes a good deal of sense to question some aspects of his approach, and specifically the approach as it relates to our SP (we need one more above average arm), and even more importantly his approach as it relates to 1B.

  67. How can you say that because only 12 outta 25 contracts are bad that means fielder has anything to do with those contracts,  contracts are dependent on the player not some made up retarded stat like what you just came up with.

  68. Since I have had both comments removed, let me try it without using any profanity:

    The only number that Rogers needs to be concerning itself with, is the number of years this team has been mired in mediocrity: 18.

    I love the Jays, and have been a fan since the 80′s, but since Rogers has sunk their claws into them, and have been using them for cheap media for their radio and TV stations, this team has gone nowhere. Money will not be spent on payroll, because they feel they don’t need too.

    As for this team going in the right direction, other than JoeyBats, and Romero, who else is a sure thing? There is no game changer on this team, save for Lawrie, and will see how he does in a full season.

  69. Shit. It wasn’t removed. My apologies. I’m an idiot.

  70. Shit. It wasn’t removed. My apologies. I’m an idiot.

  71. Shit. It wasn’t removed. My apologies. I’m an idiot.

  72. Good Read!

    I did complain, I still think that the corporate entity should loosten the purse strings. What I do NOT think is that those trades should have gone down. I am fine with dealing JPA (or moving him to 1B?) I think the deals that were made this off season by AA were excellent…Serge Santos should help solidify a redesigned and excellent BP giving confidence to the young pitching staff to go out there and gamble.

  73. @c2afe60f7ca7364ba934ca51911150c5:disqus I agree with u completly, and as i must say i might be one of those moaners talked about in post but coming up on 20 years without even making the playoffs, my patience is running thin.  Look at the leafs they have not made the playoffs in 6 years and people are starting to lose it, so for us die hard baseball fans, 20 years is a long long time

  74. There are three issues here that get intertwined: AA’s actions, Rogers commitment to winning and Bautista’s remaining productive years. AA traded a top prospect for Santos, so he’s not paralyzed and unable to take a risk. I’d have loved to have Latos or Pineda. I trust AA’s judgement on these things and maybe neither deal was possible. Rogers commitment is a different issue. Beeson’s “I’ll hire a better chef when the restaurant is full” comment is an insult to ticket holders and prospective fans alike. You build it and then the people come. It is not the other way around. Were the money there for AA to sign Fielder (or anybody else) and AA decided against it for BASEBALL reasons, (size of player, length of contract, production in the latter years yada, yada) I’d be fine with it. What galls me is that the money is not there and it is not AA’s choice. My seats cost about $24.00 per game more than comparable seats in Comerica Park. I might be getting a discounted product but I’m not paying a discounted price. So in AA I trust and at Rogers I’m irate. That brings us to Bautista. It the Jays are not going to compete in his productive years, their best BASEBALL move is to trade him and his team friendly contract for a boatload of top prospects. They should get at least as much as the Rangers got for Tex and those players combined with the youngsters in the system should give them a shot. But again, enter Rogers. They won’t do it because of the PR debacle it would cause. This is a baseball ownership whose key decisions have nothing to do with baseball. Some may be able to accept that; I’m not one of them.

  75. 3 off-seasons, though.

    No trading for an MLB-ready top of the rotation guy was foolish. This has to be the worst Hays opening day rotation in a decade plus. You number 2 starter (#2!) is Morrow, who has proven nothing and is likely to be up and down throughout this newly signed extension.

    When Romero hurts his elbow/shoulder this year, the Jays will be back behind the Orioles–will you say spending is okay then?

  76. First off, Stoeten, great job with the post. It was almost Bruntian poetic in places. And I mean that as an absolute compliment.

    Next, Oakville69, I think the point of the super-pipeline of highend talent is meant to provide enough excellent players so that the team doesn’t have to worry about everyone’s peak being at the same time. Bautista doesn’t have to be at his absolute peak to still provide exceptional value. If Lawrie, D’Arnaud, Gose, Hutch, etc. all come up and begin their peak years before Bautista falls off the cliff, then all is still good. And, when this next wave is starting their decline, the next wave is on the rise and replacing their production. AA’s plan is to have this happen forever. The sum of the parts is meant to be greater than the individual pieces. AA doesn’t want to have to rely on one monster peak (or even two or three) but have many players, across the whole team providing excellent production at fair market value.

    I think it’s doable.

  77. Good post, whether or not this is the turning point that will simmer that discussion down, it sure as hell is the point at which I’m sick to death of reading it.  Onward to Dunedin!

  78. Way to throw feed to the chickens Stoeten … slow news day.

  79. Cathal Kelly’s article (link here: http://www.thestar.com/sports/… is pretty thin for what it’s worth and quite short-sighted.

    The fact that he so adamantly believes that Prince Fielder and his albatross contract is worth it or at the very least a sound investment makes me think that he’s been away of the game too long.

    His comparison of a team to a phone bill is particular underwhelming, to the say the least.

  80. I don’t think I’d want to trade the second best catching prospect and a top ten outfield prospect for four years of control over Mat Latos.  You’d be giving up twelve years of cheap control for four years (I think, Fangraphs is doing site maintenance) of a pitcher moving from a very pitcher-friendly park.  No doubt Latos would be great, but the Jays’ pitching depth in the minors is incredible and I would rather just wait to see if one of the 7 or so B prospects can turn himself into an A.    Obviously there’s an argument to be made about acquiring proven talent for potential talent, but d’Arnaud is essentially a sure thing at this point and Gose has a higher ceiling than most anyone in the minors.   Either you don’t get as excited as I do this time of the year and read every morsel on every prospect, or differently value the potential talent of those two than most do.  I’ve never seen them play myself, though, so do take what I say with a grain of salt.

    As for your second point, as others have stated, the organization thinks Lind is closer to his 2009 self.  They have a lot more information than any of us do.   If Lind returns to form or even finds some middle ground they’d be paying about 19 million dollars a year for a win and a half more.  And that’s only in batting.  Defensively, he saves you about another run.  So we’re talking about about a half to one and a half run value for 20 million.  Lind is also on a super friendly contract with three team options after the 2013 season.  They can buy him out for 2 million after 2013 or, if he returns to form, pick up options for about 8 million a year until 2016/2017 (not sure which).  Of course, Lind could be done as a productive major league player.  It’s only costing them 4 million to find out without any real commitment.

    Your third point I cannot comment on because it’s so vague.  Does very competitive mean that they’re a lock for first or just up two 90 wins.  If it’s the latter, no thanks.   I’m willing to wait a year or two for many years of happiness than be stuck with Prince’s contract watching d’Arnaud and Gose out perform Latos.

    I agree that speculation is healthy, but I don’t think you can speculate while ignoring the rationale AA used to make his decisions. 

  81. Great post Stoeten.

  82. just read it too.  he makes an interesting point though, if only inadvertantly, that players will not want to come to Toronto. You don’t have to BE a team that tolerates mediocrity, you only have to be SEEN to be a team that accepts it. that is a death knell for players wanting to come here.

  83. As much as I want to wait and see things bear fruit, I do believe this offseason was a tremendous loss for the Blue Jays.  The Yankees were good, but not great.  Boston was in disarray.  The Rays were punching above their weight class.  The Jays had a legitimate chance to make some moves that would allow them to compete for first and second in the AL East.

    But what happened?  The Yankees got much better.  The Rays got better.  The Red Sox basically stood pat; that is to say, remained better than the Jays.  At this point, it’s all but certain that the Jays will be competing for 3rd in the AL East.  They’ll probably be good enough that in any other division, they’d be fighting for top spot.  But that’s not good enough, not where they’re situated now.

    There was a great opportunity to improve the team this offseason.  But as it stands right now, their #2 pitcher has trouble missing bats, #3-5 are huge question marks, and they have no protection for the best hitter in baseball (assuming Lind remains in his current spot).  The team doesn’t have any really large holes, but they do have a lot of open questions: can Lind regain his form, similar to how Hill did in Arizona?  Will the pitchers advance in lock-step, and provide a good rotation?  Most importantly, will they be able to win their games against divisional rivals?

    Everyone points to one or two years ahead as the contending years, as though this is guaranteed, this is automatic.  “This time, it’s different,” they say.  The farm system is fantastic, and by virtue of the fact that there are so many prospects, some of them have to work out; the Jays have to contend, they assert; there can be no alternative.

    Well, here’s the thing.  I became a Jays fan recently, around 1999.  I missed the World Series years, the dominance in the 80s.  For me, it’s been year after year of good, but not good enough.  Barely breaking .500 doesn’t buy you anything in MLB.  You need at least 90, and realistically 95, wins to make the playoffs. 

    So now it’s 18 years and counting.  And this time, we’re told, it’ll be different.  But here’s the catch: what if it isn’t?  Right now, we’re the Pirates with more upside, hoping like hell our prospects succeed.

  84. fielder looked good if he slid to 5 or 6 at 125-150ish. that’s what jays fans (myself included) were buying into. 9/214 is ridiculous.

  85. With Yu Darvish and Prince Fielder, we would have been right up there with the Yanks and Rays as favourites for the division title going into the spring.
    The Dome woulda been packed on nights Yu pitched. The Dome in general woulda been packed because we would still be in it in May, and June and July, which we usually are, but this time with the assumption that we will be in it till the end.
    You cant just sit around and wait for all your young guys to get better. You need at least one or two pieces to throw in to get everyone believing and to get the buzz back.
    All that said, I also think 9 years is kinda nuts. But why not just front-load the contract like crazy (40 million a year for the first 2 or 3 years). Then there isnt as much “back end risk” because he’s not making as much (which also makes his contract a lot easier to trade, if need be).    
    I think AA’s hands are tied and he is doing the best he can with the money given to him to work with. Fuck Rogers. It’s all their fault.

  86. “And this time, we’re told, it’ll be different. But here’s the catch: what if it isn’t?”

    i’ve wondered the same thing. what happens when this group never comes on like many people think ?? then what ??  To play devil’s advocate for a second, the in-house, rebuilding approach will only produce winners part of the time. thats if you’re lucky. thats if the cards fall in your favour.

  87. Best DJF post of the winter.

  88. Fans are about winning. Rogers apologists are about money. The fan perspective may be unrealistic due to the ownership situation but I will still evaluate Jays moves on winning and not value.
    Rogers does have the right to profit but I won’t commend a transaction because it increases their bottom line. I don’t give a fuck. I want to win.
    People can go on and on about how the Prince contract is of terrible value. I don’t give a fuck how much he gets paid. He would make the team better.
    If the Jays win the World Series in five years but Prince turns into Jabba the Hut and can’t even make the lineup that would be fine with me.

  89. Remember how the Rays tried for a couple of years to stay focussed on developing high-end talent and signing young players to team friendly deals?  Then remember how, two years in, they got impatient and signed ridiculous free agent contracts instead?   Me either.  Stay…the…course..

  90. I’ve generally been pretty critical of your posts a lot of the time, so I want to give credit where it’s due: awesome post, I completely agree. AA is doing things right.

  91. No way – this was the best post of the winter

    http://www.drunkjaysfans.com/2

  92. Yu Darvish + Prince Fielder would not make us instant contenders.  Following your logic, just for the fun of it, remember that with those two giant payroll suckholes on the roster, there would likely be no Darren Oliver & Cordero and maybe no Kelly Johnson.

    The moment you add big payroll suckholes, you are forced to let loose key pieces.  Look at Boston.  They traded away salary in the Scutaro deal. 

    To think that we would be forced to decide, okay, we can’t afford Lawrie cause we have to pay Fielder’s fat ass in 5 years?  Is that what you really want? 

  93.  ”But why not just front-load the contract like crazy (40 million a year for the first 2 or 3 years).”

    HAHAHAHAHA.  I can’t believe you want AA to set a precedent that any player is worth $40 Mill a year. 

  94. First off…don’t compare Boston and their 178 MM salary to Toronto and it’s 80 MM salary. Boston only shipped off Scutaro b/c they do not want to pay the large tax for going over the luxury tax threshold which they currently sit at. Toronto could easily have afforded Fielder at 6 yrs and still been able to sign Oliver and Cordero this year…and also extend Lawrie in future years if their payroll parameters were increased which they should be.

    As for Fielder…I don’t think any of us fans would want Fielder at 9 years and the 214MM he signed for. However…and this is directed to Stoeten and his article (which was very good btw) most of us fans who wanted Fielder wanted the Jays to go for 6-7 years if he could be had for that number (Stoeten included I believe).

    But it is very unfair Stoeten for you to say that those fans crying for Fielder at a 6-7 year contract were being unrealistic as his market was supposedly much more….I beg to differ. The interest in Fielder came down to the Nats, Rangers and apparently the Tiger’s owner. However…both the Nats and Rangers wanted Fielder for way fewer years as was reported on MLBTR. Not sure what they would have gone…but I bet it maxed out at 6-7 yrs. The same number most of us fans wanted to see the Jays in on.

    The ONLY team (I mean owner) who was willing to shell out 9 yrs was the Mystery Team Tigers. Therefore…considering the Tigers came out of Left Field….I’d say that Fielder’s real market was in the 6-7 yr range…and Boras was lucky that he had a crazy owner bite for the 2-3 extra years which he ultimately got for his client.

    Had the Tigers owner not jumped in head first into the shallow end…then I’d say the fans were justified to believe the Jays should have been in on Fielder for 6-7 yrs like the Nats and Rangers in order to continue to build this team for contention in 2013-2015.

  95. this is the thing many people keep saying again and again and the most critical aspect that Stoeten you seem to avoid grappling with in your work here. Granted Jays Fans may very well have the blindspot you argue, and to a large degree. But as a %150 supporter of AA’s approach you also seem to have this blindspot. We may need a few pieces and the approach to gain them mostly through the draft and development is spot on. But you’ve got to balance that with an awareness that the ability to replace pieces we DO have like Bautista, Escobar, and Romero isn’t a granted either. If we get to 2013/2014 and are now missing those pieces instead…are you going to be sitting here arguing that we shouldn’t obtain those through purchase as well?? What makes us think that we get %100 lucky and all our draft/development lines up at the same time and gives us a mostly complete team during a period in which we ‘imagine’ we’ll be taking a run?

    again, i’ve said this before…but you’ve got to have the idea that you’re going to run at it for a long period – so the Jays weren’t thinking in ’87 ‘oh…well..let’s sit tight..’92 is going to be THE year’. No. they were trying to do it ALL those years.

    So to me you’ve got to balance it. You don’t exclude 2012 because you are Oh so sure about your eggs in Basket 2013. That’s insane.

    They should be making a run this year. Probably not likely to happen…but you have to start when you’ve got enough going for you. And in Bautista, Romero, Lawrie, Escobar and some of these prospects, they’ve got enough to work with. They idea that they might have tried to swing a big land like Darvish or Fielder is NOT crazy. Its just up for debate. I’m not convinced that it wouldn’t have been a good idea. (or that it WOULD have either).

    But it would seem you’ve got as large a blindspot as those you criticize.

  96. Of course nothing’s guaranteed. But the other approach – spending a bunch of money on free agents right now regardless of what stage the team is actually at in its development – would be less likely to produce a winner, which is the whole point. They’re minimizing risk, maximizing assets, being smart… I think you’re misunderstanding the team’s plans if you think they’re waiting for this group to “come on”. The idea is that building the number one farm system in baseball — which they did — also gives them a TON of valuable pieces that they can trade to make serious, significant improvements to the major league roster. What AA keeps saying is that, right now, those trades aren’t out there. Whenever those impact players do become available — whenever those opportunities do arise — he’s extremely well-equipped to take advantage.

    I think people are stuck in the traditional view of the time cycle in baseball: the team plays from April to September/October, then during the offseason the GM puts together next year’s team; rinse and repeat. If that was really how it worked, then yeah, this offseason would be a major failure. But it seems to me that he prefers to operate fluidly, and make the best moves he can whenever they are possible – whether it’s during the winter or the summer. Just look at last offseason, when he traded his best pitcher for Lawrie and the offseason before when he traded League for Morrow; or his mid-season acquisitions of Escobar, Rasmus, and Johnson. Those opportunities don’t come up every day, but when they do, he seems to be ready to take them. And to that end, I would expect more major moves during the season, especially since he’s said that he believes the trade deadline is the best time to make impact trades and get the best players in return.

  97. this is the thing many people keep saying again and again and the most critical aspect that Stoeten you seem to avoid grappling with in your work here. Granted Jays Fans may very well have the blindspot you argue, and to a large degree. But as a %150 supporter of AA’s approach you also seem to have this blindspot. We may need a few pieces and the approach to gain them mostly through the draft and development is spot on. But you’ve got to balance that with an awareness that the ability to replace pieces we DO have like Bautista, Escobar, and Romero isn’t a granted either. If we get to 2013/2014 and are now missing those pieces instead…are you going to be sitting here arguing that we shouldn’t obtain those through purchase as well?? What makes us think that we get %100 lucky and all our draft/development lines up at the same time and gives us a mostly complete team during a period in which we ‘imagine’ we’ll be taking a run?

    again, i’ve said this before…but you’ve got to have the idea that you’re going to run at it for a long period – so the Jays weren’t thinking in ’87 ‘oh…well..let’s sit tight..’92 is going to be THE year’. No. they were trying to do it ALL those years.

    So to me you’ve got to balance it. You don’t exclude 2012 because you are Oh so sure about your eggs in Basket 2013. That’s insane.

    They should be making a run this year. Probably not likely to happen…but you have to start when you’ve got enough going for you. And in Bautista, Romero, Lawrie, Escobar and some of these prospects, they’ve got enough to work with. They idea that they might have tried to swing a big land like Darvish or Fielder is NOT crazy. Its just up for debate. I’m not convinced that it wouldn’t have been a good idea. (or that it WOULD have either).

    But it would seem you’ve got as large a blindspot as those you criticize.

  98. this is the thing many people keep saying again and again and the most critical aspect that Stoeten you seem to avoid grappling with in your work here. Granted Jays Fans may very well have the blindspot you argue, and to a large degree. But as a %150 supporter of AA’s approach you also seem to have this blindspot. We may need a few pieces and the approach to gain them mostly through the draft and development is spot on. But you’ve got to balance that with an awareness that the ability to replace pieces we DO have like Bautista, Escobar, and Romero isn’t a granted either. If we get to 2013/2014 and are now missing those pieces instead…are you going to be sitting here arguing that we shouldn’t obtain those through purchase as well?? What makes us think that we get %100 lucky and all our draft/development lines up at the same time and gives us a mostly complete team during a period in which we ‘imagine’ we’ll be taking a run?

    again, i’ve said this before…but you’ve got to have the idea that you’re going to run at it for a long period – so the Jays weren’t thinking in ’87 ‘oh…well..let’s sit tight..’92 is going to be THE year’. No. they were trying to do it ALL those years.

    So to me you’ve got to balance it. You don’t exclude 2012 because you are Oh so sure about your eggs in Basket 2013. That’s insane.

    They should be making a run this year. Probably not likely to happen…but you have to start when you’ve got enough going for you. And in Bautista, Romero, Lawrie, Escobar and some of these prospects, they’ve got enough to work with. They idea that they might have tried to swing a big land like Darvish or Fielder is NOT crazy. Its just up for debate. I’m not convinced that it wouldn’t have been a good idea. (or that it WOULD have either).

    But it would seem you’ve got as large a blindspot as those you criticize.

  99. Wonder how many rolled their eyes on the day Fielder was announced when they opened their Rogers mail to see a price hike of $4 and change coming, $2 on interweb?  Prince at 9 years is VERY likely to end badly.

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