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’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. Most intelligent post I’ve ever read on this site. A very good read

  2. You could easily say that about any number of rotations though.  If the #1 guy goes down, that’s going to be a serious blow.  The Yankees certainly strengthened their rotation, but if Sabathia goes down, they’ve got some problems, same with Boston.

  3. For those of you that are using the number of years Toronto has been out of the playoffs as the basis to your argument, you’re idiots.  Look at the “curses” for Boston and the Cubs, if their fans acted like you both of those historic franchises probably wouldn’t  exist anymore.  It takes time to build a real contender, if you keep trying to buy your way out of mediocrity when you can’t spend the most,  you’ll perpetually be mediocre.

  4. oh you can say its a ‘good read’ all you like now. in 2-3 years time we can all come back here and see what’s what.  If there is no contending in 2013 and/or 2014 then this is going to look like the biggest load of hogwash of all time.

    Ty says ” 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.”

    no. the point is, you don’t take either approach to the exclusion of the other. THAT is the point. That is the smart move. You can’t count on either approach to work on its own. Its not smart.

    And you can’t assume that talent like Bautista, Romero, Escobar is going to continue to land in your lap, at the price you want, all the time. You don’t waste it. You just don’t!

    And the message they’ve sent this year is that they are willing to waste another year of Romero, Bautista, and Escobar with the idea that they will capitalize ‘for sure’ in 2013 or 2014 (or whatever revisionist history they come up with next time they answer the question).

  5. For me the worst thing about this off-season were the two major PR mess-ups.  When Beeston said that the team payroll was basically predicate on the fans coming out to support the team he was pissing directly in the faces of Jays fans everywhere.  On that topic, Cathal Kelly was right.  And when the Darvish things started spinning way out-of-control, AA should have known better than to keep his mouth shut.  That huge wave of enthusiasm was followed by an even larger trough of despair when we didn’t get him.  That trough was made larger and deeper because it drove home Beeston’s comments from a few days earlier.  ’We are not going to spend money until attendance is up.’  Quite how it’s going to go up is a mystery to me.  The dedicated fans already come out to the ballgames and the other sports fans in Toronto  are sick and tired of watching losers in all three major franchises and will only support one bunch of deadbeats.  And that will not be the Jays.  For the team to contend in this division, at some point money will have to be spent.  

    If the rumours are true, and Bautista has given an interview to Stephen Brunt in which he questions the club’s commitment, that will be another nightmare.  If the franchise player is questioning the club’s intentions to win, then the casual fan will certainly believe that his income could be better spent someplace other than the RC.

  6. its true. don’t underestimate fans love of bautista. to some degree I care about that guy as much or more than the jays themselves. at some point if the jays keep up this garbage of refusing to compete then i’m going to rather cheer for him to go to a winning team and a WS chance then this organization that let his talent go to waste after he landed in their laps at a steal of a price. the guy probably agreed to this with the expectation that they’d compete in the next year or 2. the message they have sent this off season is that they are not serious about 2012 and have given up already.

  7. “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.”

    It’s not automatic, any more than it would be automatic for the Jays to be a contender if they dumped even an additional $40-M into the payroll this offseason.  Teams fail through building within and they fail through aggressive spending. There’s no guarantees either way; what a team needs to decide is what method gives them the best chance at the most championships. 

    When the farm talent and young cost-controlled MLB talent outweighs the post-prime talent, it’s usually a good risk betting on some natural improvement from the team (whether it reaches contention without more spending or not).  It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a good risk.  And typically, the better a team is before it starts greatly expanding its payroll, the longer it will remain strong.

  8. This is a very good point, one I was going to say.  If AA had acquired Lawrie, Rasmus, and KJ this off season, along with Santos, Oliver, (almost Koji) et al, people would be saying it was a very good off season, probably.  Well he did acquire those guys, just three of the big ones last year (Lawrie acquired last off season but didn’t show up in TO until August anyway so same difference).

    It’s just a matter of timing and context that influences perception.

  9. This is a very good point, one I was going to say.  If AA had acquired Lawrie, Rasmus, and KJ this off season, along with Santos, Oliver, (almost Koji) et al, people would be saying it was a very good off season, probably.  Well he did acquire those guys, just three of the big ones last year (Lawrie acquired last off season but didn’t show up in TO until August anyway so same difference).
    It’s just a matter of timing and context that influences perception.

  10. If that Bautista/Brunt thing is true, that could be a bigger nightmare than the other stuff put together.  If Bautista basically says “I thought we would do more this off season, management promised they’d do something and they didn’t, and now I’m wondering if there’s a real commitment to win here” then all hell will break loose.

    The only really good thing that has come out of this off season was the logo and uniform change.  That was really well done.  The rest is kind of a clusterfuck.

  11. 1) I disagree with your valuation of prospects. 4 years of Latos is worth d’Arnaud and Gose in my view. 

    d’Arnaud is a sure thing in what respect? He is Buster Posey? Matt Wieters? Who is a comparable catcher in the bigs that you think d’Arnaud is a sure thing to match? I understand that he is likely to be very good. But he is also likely to be very good at the same position JPA is playing. In other words, one of them will need to be traded at some point.

    Gose can’t hit. I hope he learns how to hit enough that he turns into BJ Upton. But that is far from a certainty. He also plays the same position as Rasmus. Again, we’re faced with having to trade one of the two. 

    To me, trading two prospects that play positions already filled makes sense for a proven pitcher like Latos, who would immediately become our ace. 

    I’m going to assume that AA was in on Latos, and just couldn’t match the offer the Reds gave to the Padres. Maybe that’s why he was so frustrated throughout the winter meetings.

    2) I don’t believe the organization actually believes in Lind the way you suggest. I think it is more likely that the second part of your statement effectively leads them to the conclusion that, even though it is unlikely he turns his shit around, his contract makes it worth giving him one last shot. 

    I really hope I’m wrong, but I see Lind as Aaron Hill 2.0. 

    Again, I do trust AA though. Fielder at 9 years was obviously beyond what he was comfortable with. And if Lind bounces back even moderately, he should be able to be traded. 

    My question remains though – if Lind fails, what is our plan B?

    3) My point was simply a response to the view that an improvement at 1B and an improvement at SP would be a mistake because the team still wouldn’t be ready to compete. I think they certainly would be, and that the window of opportunity presented by Bautista in the middle of the line up for the next 3 years means there is an intelligent argument to be made for making moves now. 

    We can trust AA, and it is true that he has worked towards a 2013-2015 timeline all along in my mind. But it bothers me when Stoeten and Parkes go all defensive and lash out at reasonable viewpoints without holding AA’s feet to the fire a little bit. That’s the role of the media I think. And given they are the intelligent guys writing about the Jays right now (ie fuck Richard Griffin), I’d like them to applaud AA when he makes great moves (as he does), but also to question some aspects of his approach (first base being the primary one).

    Other than first base, I don’t think this team has serious problems though. I still like the AA approach, and it’s not as if the timeline has changed. I always expected this team to compete beginning in 2013 – with Fielder, Latos, Darvish etc on the market though, and with those being our pressing needs, it made a certain amount of sense to speed up the process.

  12. Don’t disagree with most of this.  However, you are only pointing out deals that actually happened, as if there aren’t other opportunity costs to not spending another $20-$30mm in payroll out there.  The fact is that we simply don’t know how AA would employ a higher “parameter” but my analysis based on his history is that he would improve the team both now and in the future with it.  We also know that AA “wishes things were different”.

    Further, the TV market value analysis is relevent because Beeston says that when attendance and revenue goes up, spending will go up.  My point is that the market value of the TV rights is a here and now opportunity cost and therefore economically the same as current revenue driven by attendance.  The same thing can be said for the increasing value of the franchise itself.  Ask any NFL team and they will tell you attendance is very secondary to media value.  Baseball is just now figuring this out and it is creating a spending war from teams that are renewing media deals at current market rates.  If Beeston and Rogers were to say that the budget is not linked to revenues, then the TV deals would be irrelevant.  However, they are making that connection so it is very relevant to point out the inconsistencies that I believe are based on ignorance on Beeston’s part and cynicism on Rogers’ part.

  13. Numbers to back this up? Last year, they were definitely quite a bit below average (62M payroll + 10M in extra spending). That isn’t even including the extra monor league affiliate they added last year in Vancouver.  This year? An 85M payroll compared to the ~95M average payroll, plus the much higher minor league / draft / IFA budgets than average by probably about 10M, they are most likely spending around league average.

  14. Wow. You just linked to one of the most retarded articles I have ever read by probably the dumbest writer out there. Congratulations, you are no banned from the Internet.

  15. Fucking Gospel Stoeten.

    Only thing I do not agree with is the AA’s fortune being the same as the organization’s fortune.  I see the connection here and now, and understand that the current Jay’s fortune’s are tied to their young GM’s.  But you are a little too rigid in the way you put it.  Because GM’s come and go, and another could easily build off of or destroy the moves this one has made.

  16. Worse than last years? Are you Jo-Jo Reyes’ mother?

  17. … and if AA’s reputation continues to expand and he tires of the context under which he must operate for Rogers, it is a much wiser move for him to switch employers than to try and change his employers’ worldview (which is dictated by fiduciary responsibility, something nobody should expect sports fans to pay any attention to, but will NEVER go away).

  18. You’re largely right imo, but your analysis of media rights is too simple. NFL has a very different dynamic for TV rights. Fewer games and different scheduling formats mean that even though the 162 game MLB schedule delivers more total viewers (even then, not by much), the commercial value of those viewers is much, much smaller than the NFL audiences. In the curdest terms, the NFL derives an enormous premium for its content from the fact that it cioncentrates its viewing in few periods and those periods (e.g. Sunday) do not compete with current TV ratings strategies. NFL TV rights are also all done collectively, while the longer schedule means baseball is Regional Sportnet territory – where distributors have better leverage than when free-to-air networks and ESPN fight over the few NFL packages to be had.

    The result of these differences is that baseball is fundamentally more attendance driven than the NFL, in an economic sense. As Stoeten points out, preventing the escalation of content costs is why Rogers acquired these properties in the first place. Any increases in team budget are likely to be the result of attendance increases and/or Rogers deciding to pursue certain kinds of PR strategies at the corporate level. Nothing we moan about will impact this in any way.

  19. Not going to get into the opinion/sentiment here, just the faulty logic about the rotation: Morrow was the #2 starter last year, too. If Morrow has “proven nothing”, at least you have to concede that Romero has proven an awful lot over the past year, making them arguably stronger in the #1-2 spots (same guys, but if we’re basing this on last year’s results, Romero improved significantly while Morrow stayed the same). The back three are largely question marks this year, just like last year: if you think that Alvarez-Cecil-McGowan/Drabek is demonstrably worse than Cecil-Reyes-Drabek, then either you have a crystal ball or you’re just being a pessimist.

    That said, If you think that either of those is the worst rotation of the last decade, then you must have a pretty short memory, or it’s been blocked out by the trauma of watching opening day rotations that included Josh Towers, Dana Eveland, David Purcey, Scott Richmond, Tomo Ohka, John Thompson, Brian Tallet, Gustavo Chacin, and Victor effing Zambrano.

    This is not the worst opening day rotation in a decade.

  20. Some people slag AA every month after they open the cable bill. They see him as part of the Evil Empire so he is fair game. Frucking tards. Just an opinion.

    OK all you mouth breathers, close the browser window on your bloated bill (be thankful that they aren’t asking for your firstborn) and LISTEN up, for Gawd’s sakes. Just take a tour around the Jays starting 9 in the field, and note the overpaid pylons and shitbags who used to be there, and the guys playing out of position, before AA swung the hammer. Read on and rejoice.

    CF  Wells, Davis—–Rasmus 
    RF  Thames…. Bautista
    LF  Lewis/Patterson..Snyder
    3rd…. EE5/ Bautista……..Lawrie
    1st Overbay/ Millar….Lind
    DH Millar/Lind….EE5 / Thames

    I’d do the rotation & bullpen but I’m a sloth. Think about it yourselves. They are as bad or worse.Tell me that you would prefer ponying up zillions for guys like  CANT FIELDer,  who will turn into a tub of goo when midnight strikes.The Jays have built the best minor league system on top of all of this. The pipeline is choked. I love AA’s business model….become a monster, stay a monster, because you develop and deal  for more blue chippers than any other 2 teams combined. Year after year after year.

    What the hell are the deluded fans and cynical ink stained wretches whining about?

  21. Well said. So the question becomes: what might make them spend?

    I see only one way: PR benefits. The lack of success by TO sports teams in recent history, combined with those teams now being unified under single ownership, with Rogers as its face, means whoever restores any success to TO sports will get a hero’s welcome. On its own that is not a cool enough benefit for Rogers to spend to chase it. They won’t spare a driver for it and they won’t waste four strokes… but they might use the putter.

    AA and PB are professionals desiring success; managing their careers and reputations as best they can. The best THEY can is for the Jays to perform on the field while keeping their overlords happy. They try to take the steps they need to take in order to convince Rogers that making the Jays a winner is a put, not a par 4 with sand traps. Rogers will not spend to win because that is riskier than not spending to not win. AA becoming a star GM in the league (i.e. a major professional success) hinges on his ability to create a situation where that balance swings the other way for Rogers. The “Asset collection” or “Value whore” model is probably the only way forward.

  22. That’s the point isn’t it?  That’s the plan put forth by AA.  Forming an organization that keeps competiting every year with waves of talent coming up from the minors.  With all the arguments with going for it with Halladay and Bautista at their peak…  isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid?  Going all in with only one superstar and gambling with the chance that if you lose, you won’t even have enough money to even join upcoming tournaments in the forseeable future?

    It sucks that we have Bautista now with alot of ‘maybes’ around him.  But the point is eventually, we’ll have 4-5 Bautistas/Halladays on the team and then we’ll be able contend for the next few years and have 3-4 more Bautistas/Halladays in the minors competing for those MLB spots. 

  23. You left out adding Alvarez to the starting rotation.

  24. In addition, and admittedly  its just my opinion, but Bautista has the kind of body that tends to age very slowly. Compared to a guy like Fielder, Bautista will be playing forever.

  25. That’s a good analysis of the situation.  My question moving forward is how’re you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?  In other words, how much headspace will Rogers have for the Jays after they’ve seen the kind of fan commitment, passion and all-around stranglehold that the Leafs have on the GTA?  Leaf Nation will keep Rogers very busy indeed and their every move/non-move/flinch/whisper will be analyzed to death by all the big hockey journalists as well as millions of fans over and over again.  The Jays are in serious risk of becoming an afterthought in the organization.  And afterthoughts don’t get much attention and even less money.

  26. Keep in mind that no one is indispensable. As much as JB contributes, remember “stand” Pat Gillick traded Fernandez and  Mcgriff away for Carter and some unknown 2nd baseman. Its my opinion though that JB will still be here and a huge contributor when the Jays make the playoffs.

  27. Outstanding article.  Prince’s contract should really quiet the rioting masses in TO, as it reveals that in fact there was no cratering market AA could pilfer. Utilizing Bautista’s prime years is a consideration in building a winner now, but there’s no reason the team could not use him as a DH in 2-3 years when they can realistically expect a declining Bautista to produce an offensive WAR of 4 or 5 (still justifying a 14M ann. salary). 

    Best point made here is that AA was hired under a player development plan that would bear fruit at the 4 year mark, thereafter providing Toronto with controllable, major league talent. AA watched Ricciardi promise a 5 year plan based on cost cutting, followed by FA signings timed by a “closing window” in NY (Jeter, Posada, Pettite, Rivera declines). Player development didn’t net the high end players required, FA-signings did not produce to the necessary WAR, and JP panicked as a result (que FA signings like Clayton, Thomas).  AA can’t move off his player development plan as it aligns with Roger’s objective re: the Jays and his hiring proposition.
    If not for the sudden emergence of Bautista and Romero (frankly, both are surprises), AA would be given more leeway for what he is developing, and fans would understand the club’s emergence will begin in ’13 or ’14.

  28. “But the point is eventually, we’ll have 4-5 Bautistas/Halladays on the team”

    Unlikely.  Bautista has put up insane numbers for the last two seasons – we stumbled upon one of the best offensive players in baseball, and an underrated defensive one, also.  Halladay is a once-in-a-generation kind of pitcher, the kind who would have more Cy Youngs but for the fact that his average year is barely beat out by someone else’s career year.

    If we had 4-5 Bautista/Halladay players on the team, the Jays would win the World Series every year.

    That said, I hope you’re right.

  29. Disagree on Romero.  He was expected to be very good; he was drafted, what, fifth?  And considered a bust for a while?  He just took a little while.

    That said, he’s turning into a very pleasant constant.

  30. There are a number of things I disagree with you on…but you do make some valid points (although I would conter-argue any of them with my own valid points). The one thing I take issue with is pointing to Rogers ‘propensity for cheapness over the last decade’. Re-building stages = cheapness…but before that the Jays were writing blank cheques (see Rios, Wells, Burnett, Thomas, Overbay, etc.) It is a ridiculous notion to suggest that Rogers is cheap for the sake of being cheap…they just want to stick to a reasonable plan that has been set in place.

  31. “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.”
    Classic deluded, complacent, oddly arrogant Toronto koolaid drinker comment.  Only city in professional sports where you’re not “supposed” to win because “next year, next year, next year”…as though other teams with much better management/ownership groups and a proven mandate to WIN will stop their efforts to improve and wait for Toronto to catch up…

    Toronto sports fans/media live with their heads up their a$$es. The teams are irrelevant and will continue to have mediocrity ceilings because there is NO PRIORITY placed on winning…showing up is all that is required. 

    The most dangerous combination is smug complacency and mediocrity…it can go on forever.

    Keep buying the logo merchandise and paying your phone and cable bills…

  32. great article Stoten,  build it and they will come should be AA’s mantra, and he is doing a great job.Not a fantasy baseball pool job.

  33. “Classic deluded, complacent, oddly arrogant Toronto koolaid drinker comment.  Only city in professional sports where you’re not “supposed” to win because “next year, next year, next year”…as though other teams with much better management/ownership groups and a proven mandate to WIN will stop their efforts to improve and wait for Toronto to catch up…”

    Honestly he’s not wrong.  The fans here are incredibly passive compared the soccer fans I am used to back in the UK.  And also compared to the baseball fans in Boston and NY.  The front office should not run their organization based on fear of the fans.  But the fans have the right and I believe the duty to hold the fat cats’ feet to the fire early and often.  The first time I ever went to a Jays game I was astounded how quiet the fans were.  I’m astounded how quiet we still are given the history of mediocrity we’ve seen on the team.  

  34. ?
    what ‘common sense? obviously sense is not common on this blog. stoeten can frame the argument any way he wants, but he completely misses the point in this article.

    i suspect he’s never heard of the phrase “means, opportunity, will”. Rogers and AA had the first two this offseason, and lacked the third.

    Will their lack of action ruin this franchise? Of course not. Did they miss a great opportunity to build up the club’s talent level. Yes, obviously.

    Should fans feel disappointed? Of course.

    But the notion that stoeten continues to publish in his crass, narrow minded style that somehow the team would suffer by signing real talent at market prices is just absurd.

    it’s of no service to the fanbase to perpetuate such basement-GM-drivel-as-gospel from a self-aggrandizing and delusional number cruncher and foul-mouthed drunkard.

  35. respectfully disagree.

    What you saying is like Rogers treating the cable division like an afterthought because internet charges produces more profit. Not likely.Both are valuable.

    Remember the debut of SN1 and all the Jays games transferred to it?The official reason was there was to much content for the existing 4 SN channels.
    I moved recently and am trying to make a choice which Rogers package I want.
    $54.80/mth with SN but not SN1
    $67.98/mth pkg with SN1
    Costs me $13.18/mth more if I want to see all the Jays games.

    To a casual fan,if the Jays are tanking,might not pay for the extra SN1.

    Attendance issues are a red herring to buy time while they improve the team.

  36. I mean that’s the goal right?  To have All Stars at every position.  Is it realistic?   Probably not, if you can get the right talented players and have them relatively cheap and in control for many years, that’s the only way to compete for many years at time and instead of worrying about some small window of opportunity when your competitors seem to be out of it before spring training.

  37. it just makes no sense for you to continue to bang the Rasmus drum with all evidence pointing to the contrary. especially when you use the ‘real numbers line’ as a reason to diminish the value of top tier guys like fielder etc.

    it’s like you’re more interested in being right, than in having a great team to cheer for. weird.

  38. exactly. 2 impact players, especially at positions of need, would have been a HUGE difference maker.

    and to think it would only have taken 40million more a year to turn us into a national(US) worthy team… this really will be remembered as THE lost off season.

  39. Both Boston and the Cubs have been in the playoffs in the past 20 years. And Boston had at least made the playoffs during their WS drought…they just hadn’t won the series. So your argument doesn’t hold water.

    But I agree with you that the Jays shouldn’t just spend money at a problem solely b/c they haven’t been in the playoffs for 20 years. But it would be nice to see AA have more payroll to work with.

  40. except that it IS AA’s fault… he’s got to be able to stand up to ownership because there is no one else to do that job.

    so you can make excuses for him, but in the end, this was a lost off-season and AA is to blame.

    this team just re-arranged deck chairs all season long, and that trend continued this offseason.

  41.  NES, and Fuller_Fan, are exactly right in their appreciation of the situation.

  42. From MLBTR

    The Dodgers pushed hard for Prince Fielder for weeks and thought they had a legitimate chance of signing him, Jon Heyman of
    reports. They offered a seven-year deal worth a little more than $160MM
    that would have provided the first baseman with the chance to opt out
    after four seasons. Fielder would have earned $26MM or so for the first
    four years of the deal and $20MM-plus for its final three years.

  43. Damn. I don’t think it’s black and white but I really, really wish you were less correct. Our only true hope is that AA is an Andrew Friedman.

    I wish I could be happy just hating the Yankees…

  44.  ”albatross contract”?

    really? will you say as much when lawrie’s chance for a longterm deal comes up? what the fuck league do you think the Jays are playing in? it’s the fucking MLB dude. Fielder’s contract is the price you pay for top tier talent.

    you fucking cheapskates have got it all backwards. it’s sickening to keep reading posts like this one.

  45. not.

  46. holy shit dude. check your fuckin head.

    gtfo if you think this is the ‘best post’. fullmer_fans’ farts carry more fucking insight and understanding baseball than this fucking article.


  47. holy shit dude, maybe you should stop reading fucking people magazine if this is the most intelligent post you’ve ever read… altho, come tthink of it, compared to most shite here, you could have a point.

    still. FML.

    it’s true, hell really is other people.

  48. Have to disagree with your conclusion. Your observations are not in question, but Rogers’ own retailing of Sportsnet is a much smaller source of profit than either the retransmission payments from the other TV service operators who distribute Sportsnet or the advertising streams associated with the total viewership. Those retail plans Rogers has no control over and those other distributors do not use the channels the same way Rogers does.

    Clear cut case: Videotron has refused to even carry Sportsnet 1 and seems to be upping its pricing for the Sportsnet package. The other side of this is that TVA Sports, the new french sports channel Videotron launched, has acquired the french-language rights to the Jays and will start with 50+ games next season. So in all likelihood, the real margins on Jays games within Quebec will fall to Videotron.

    In addition to this, for economic reasons it is attendance and sponsorship that drives overall revenues for all baseball teams, even (though less) the YESN Yankees and the NESN Red Sox. Because of Rogers’ corporate positioning, TV revenues will be allowed to go to the bottom line and will, largely, not be spent. If they don’t let the TV money drop to the bottom line, I have no idea whatsoever why they would ever have bought the team.

    Some folks seem to think that pissed off fans are a problem, and perhaps they are. But if you want a real problem, try pissed off shareholders… proxy battle anyone?

  49. Angry fans change very, very little. The carrot beats the stick here. Think of the Montreal Canadiens. Or, better yet, consider all those UK football fans, who scream and shout about Millwall or what not year in and year out… but there are still only 4 teams who have any chance at all of winning the Premiership in any given year. Sports is business and in business, most of the time, economics trumps politics.

  50. I understand what you’re saying and I don’t think Rogers view the Jays the way, say, Interbrew saw them.  Also I have no illusions that one player, even if that player is Prince Fielder, would take them into the post-season.  But the way this has been handled annoys me to death and also points to a certain inability to perceive some realities that suggests to me that the Beeston/AA combo although very bright and capable, are not quite as bright and capable as I thought they were.  If they had stuck to their guns from the get-go and simply said ‘this team is close but not there yet.  We’re not blowing the farm on free agents and overly-expensive trades’ and left it at that, I would have been with them all the way.  But no.  Beeston had to go that extra mile and point at us…

  51. Well-thought and well-written rebuke of among others, C. Kelly’s recent articles from the Star. The writing in the Star’s sports section is consistently mediocre, maddeningly misinformed and frequently lazy, not that Star is unusual among what remains of today’s newspapers.

    What’s been lost in major newspapers has been gained on the internet. While predictably providing a forum to an anonymous plethora of idiots, whiners and racists, it has also produced gems such as DJF that provoke a deeper understanding and enjoyment of baseball and other sports. Bravo to DJFs profundity and profanity. The Mark Twain of baseball writers.

  52. They extended Lind, Romero, Bautista and now Morrow. Someone went apeshit with Fielder. The owner of the Tigers clearly went into panic mode when Martinez was lost for the year. You can’t negotiate with Boras when a different owner is running completely on emotion. 

    I’d like to see Oswalt come here for $8 million/1 year since he doesn’t cost a pick… and even if ALL the kids pan out, they’ll be on some kind of innings limits. But my issues with Rogers being cheap fucks are now essentially over. 

    So, with Fielder gone, Anthopolous knows as well as we do that the team needs to find a first baseman and DH internally. Right now we don’t have either. (E5 OPSing .600 during one of his cold months is unacceptable.) It would be nice if we platooned Lind and E5, had Thames DH and Snider in left for the entire season. 

  53. Millwall’s fanbase is loud but small.  For really really irate fans, you should check out the enormous Black and White Army of Newcastle United aka ‘The Toon’.  I am a proud member.  We haven’t won much in 50 years.  But ownership gets badgered and tormented and second-guessed all along the way.  They have mismanaged the team but they haven’t starved it.  And wouldn’t dare…

  54. This 18 years stuff is all navel gazing whining horseshit.

    All you can control is what you do right now and set yourself up for better times ahead.  I don’t care how you get better, but whining about the past isn’t going to do it.

    There’s a reason the pitcher’s mantra is “Next Pitch”.   

  55. “The Mark Twain of baseball writers.”

    my faith in humanity just dropped from 0.000001% to 0%

  56. You don’t just replace the best hitter in baseball (and with his contract, perhaps the most valuable player in baseball) with prospects. Guys like him don’t come around very often and need to be taken advantage of while they’re actually on the team and producing.

  57. It does exist.

    I don’t know exactly where but Anthopolos said something to the effect of “if we don’t improve, what did we do with Bautista’s years when he was great, we wasted them”

  58. if Rogers wanted to give the jays the market value of the broadcast rights they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of acquiring the team.

  59. I remember the game (one of their last in the Premiership before they went down for a while) when the fans wanted the ownership out and groups circulated around the park with banners reading: “Cockney Mafia Out!” and stuff like that… Fascinating to see fans cheering and booing while ignoring the actual game.

    Not my cup of tea though. I think I might even prefer an owner starve my team than mismanage it… I do NOT want to be the Orioles.

  60. Lind is trash, you’ll see it this season, and then you’ll make another excuse. Move on.

  61. I agree with the cheap motherfucker Rogers sentence.

  62. Those Dodger cheap skates. 

    Wouldn’t pony up the dough for Fielder.

  63. “The biggest thing is making sure we time it right. If we don’t have a competitive team until Bautista’s in the last year of his contract, then what did we do for those years he was great?” Anthopoulos’ voice rises slightly here. “We wasted those years. So we’ve got to go through our growing pains now.”… 

    There you go.

  64. You’ve got stellar tits, but you are fucking idiot.

  65. The world would be much simpler if Bautista had remained some also-ran utility player.

  66. For AA and Beeston? Hell yeah. They could be in Blame-JP-unabashedly-rebuilding mode, rather than I-suppose-we-have-to-try-to-win-soon mode. The former is probably what many at Rogers expected given they felt they had insufficient talent in the pipeline and were cutting spending… UroojIslam#### pointed that out somewhere above.

    But for the Blue Jays fans, simpler is not better and Bautista is a godsend. My 4-year old daughter, when trying to get a handle on “how good” somebody is at something, tends to ask: “Good like Jose?”

  67. Not that his opinion is worth anything, but Cathal Kelly’s article today missed the point that even the Yankees and Red Sox (and now the Tigers) keep running out some shitty players just because they’re paying them.  AA’s vision is to not be in that situation; seems a better business model than paying whatever Boras demands and then having to keep playing a guy just cause you’re paying him so much.

  68. We don’t like Cockneys up in GeordieLand…

    Mismanagement is as bad as miserly management.  It should be possible–both in Newcastle and in Toronto–to do better than this.  (Although as of right now the Toon’s not doing so badly.  Won 10 drawn 6 lost 6 and they are 6th in the division.)

  69. The frustrating thing for me is that everyone purports to know with 100% certainty what’s happening behind the scenes. The fact is, we don’t know what Rogers’ strategy for the Jays going forward is, we don’t know what exactly AA was targeting in the offseason, and we sure as bloody hell don’t know that the Tigers were the only ones willing to pony up the years and dollars for Fielder, although logic dictates that that would likely be flat wrong. 

    The Jays are the only division of Rogers that gets a cent of my money, unless you want to count whatever my non-Rogers cable provider pays for the SNET/CITY channels I get on my basic cable, and the occasional Macleans I pick up in the airport. Whatever opinions I might have of them as a company (and I have plenty), though, I don’t think they’ve been particularly cheap when it comes to the Jays. Under AA, the Jays have a huge scouting department and have spent more than most of the league on international free agents and the Rule 4 draft. The new CBA will affect their ability to spend in these areas going forward, but the money has certainly been there to this point. They’ve put money into renovations at the ‘dome, and it’s a much better place to watch a game now than in the early 2000s. If all they truly cared about was the bottom line, why bother with the added millions in sunk costs in these areas?  The only place they haven’t invested is in free agent signings, and, given that ownership hasn’t yet seen the ROI on AA’s extra organizational spending, I don’t think it’s fair to say that they never will. 

    Jays attendance over the past decade has shown little correlation to payroll or individual greatness (Halladay; Bautista). The only thing that will bring the fans back in droves is winning, and to sustain winning, they’ll need to build a core of players who will spend their prime years in Toronto, much like the Yankees and Red Sox have done in the past. Spending large on free agents before they know whether or not that core is in place is putting the cart before the horse, in my opinion. 

  70. Well, as long as we’re all being so professional about the discourse…

    I will say just as much if I don’t think Lawrie’s deal will be worth it either. 

    Sorry I didn’t realize it was the MLB. I thought the Jays were playing in Japan. My mistake.

    9 years at 24 million is an albatross, in my opinion. Especially when he reaches his decline, and then the Jays won’t have the resources make up for that decline. 

    If you feel differently, fantastic. Push forward with this crusade and keep calling people cheapskates for being relunctant to spend 24 million dollars a year on a player who was 24th in WAR for positional players last year.

  71. Well, not much is different if the team chooses to completely ignore his emergence based on how it fits with the rest of their plan. They won’t trade him and he’ll be past his prime when the rest of the pieces are ready to contribute at a high level (assuming most of them pan out).

  72. Well, not much is different if the team chooses to completely ignore his emergence based on how it fits with the rest of their plan. They won’t trade him and he’ll be past his prime when the rest of the pieces are ready to contribute at a high level (assuming most of them pan out).

  73. I wonder how Fielder and Cabrera do with bunt defense… I’d watch Tampa – Detroit games just to see them sprawled around the infield as the Rays bunt their way around the bases.

  74. As I understood the Beede thing, they offered a ton (3 mill?)  over slot and Beede decided to hold out for more. Afterwards it came out that the jays thought he may be damaged goods anyway. Doesnt matter, they get an extra 1st round pick this year because of it. I dont see that as a “fault”.

  75. Ha. I wouldn’t be surprised to see every team do that against the Detroit Tigers. Rajai Davis DH!

  76. I love the irony in that sentence.

  77. Rasmus is an elite fielder with a ton of natural ability and the bat will come.

  78. Getting tired of hearing this supposed direct correlation between attendance and payroll. It simply doesn’t wash on a league wide basis. Just have a look at the numbers. You’re forgetting the biggest source of team revenue these days and that’s TV money. The amounts that are in play now simply blow away the revenues generated at the parks. Take a look at what Yankees and Sox spend vs teams like Milwaukee and St. Louis, all 4 teams had attendance of 3 million plus with the Sox, Brewers and Cardinals all being within 50k of each other. People need to stop using it in their arguments for management to justify more expenditures first.

    A better argument to make would be what payroll levels Rogers is prepared to spend at based on attendance. At least with Rogers you get some semblance of a trend and that stands to reason being the good little corporate planners that they most certainly are.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit. Jays brass say that with more attendance you’ll get more payroll. In future here’s a good way to see if they are keeping their word. In 2011 they had $34.41 of payroll per fan which was  below the league average of $39.58 or -13%. It can be argued that the additional money went into the farm system and scouting. Fair enough. Hopefully as payroll gets back to the levels on a per fan basis of the prior 3 years the money will continue to be there for those same expenditures. Something for us to watch for.

    To be fair, if payroll ends up at the $85 million range this year and attendance get’s a modest boost to 2 million you’d looking at a rate of $42.50 of payroll per fan. That would actually be in line with $41.61 of 2010, $42.92 of 2009 and $40.75 of 2008. Spending at that clip got the Jays years of 85, 75 and 86 wins. It certainly will be interesting to see if the Jays can get back to the 85-86 win plateau this year with a similar payroll per fan level. It will also be a good way to compare JP’s work vs AA’s work in the future. Can AA get more wins on a similar payroll per fan measure than JP did? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. During JP’s tenure (2002-2009) his teams averaged 80 wins on a $31.13 payroll per fan level. AA is off and running at 83 wins per year at a rate of $38.01 of payroll per fan.

    It should also be noted that 3 million fans at the possible 2012 rate gets you to the mythical $125,000,000 million plateau.

    It’s a pity management didn’t come out and say that last January at the teams state of the union address or back in November. If they had qualified it with those kinds of figures they certainly would have avoided a lot of bad PR.

    I guess to a certain extent I’ve made a point for the “Rogers is actually spending crowd”  and fair enough I suppose. I guess it’s a point for them but only as far as what Rogers has spent historically. Nor does it justify the “come first before we spend” attitude being thrown the fans way.  The “can they afford to be spending more”  argument is a whole other matter. At the same time by having shown they are in fact spending at recent historical levels on payroll/fan basis we should certainly expect to see far more from AA’s teams and his method of doing things compared to the teams during JPR’s tenure. As of the last two years AA has been given more resources than JPR ever had when you look at it from an greater attendance = greater payroll perspective.

  79. Cant find the Fangraphs article from last year but it had fairly decent stats to indicate his problem vs specific “loogys” were worse than starting LHP’s.

  80. I wish the Jays had a “Mark Cuban Like” owner

  81. Opps, didn’t mean to post that as a reply to your post.

  82. I didn’t sift through all the comments, but to touch on a comment I saw with BFF mentioning that Lind hasn’t touched lefties in his career, while this is true, E5 has obliterated lefties in his career to a .847 OPS, and .845 last season. A platoon would be the sensible option here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they just went with Lind on a consistent basis.

  83. Yes, EE is less the issue here than it is that there is no 2nd RH batter option for days when a lefthander is pitching. EE doesn’t need to be platooned, Lind does.

  84. Good post. 

  85. Very good post. I wonder if Rogers will offer a discount next year while we wait for a playoff team?

    I wonder if AA has to guts to trade Bautista if he gets a good offer on prospects.

    It seems he talks regularly with Bautista, which is a good move by AA.

    AA is a classy guy. I am sure that Bautista gets fed up he will ask AA quietly for a trade like Rolen did.

    He traded Marcum for Lawrie but Marcum wasn’t the face of the franchise.

  86. You make some good points. I have no problem with a constant pipeline of talent.

    However, would n’t it be prudent to get 1 veteran starter to be an innings eater to save wea & tear on the bullpen.?

    The reality is that we have 1.5 good pitchers. I think the rotation will be better this year. No JoJo Reyes, but who knows how Cecil & Alvarez do. Will Dusty fall apart?

    I think this is a make or break year for the Jays. If they fall to 75 wins, the wheel will come off the bus & the fanbase will get irate at Rogers….

    Will Farrell quit? Will Bautista & Romero request trades?

    If they get to the magical number of 88 wins which would be the best win total under rogers
    ownership & equal to the vietnam veteran Johnson, then fans will be happy.

    Looking at the schedule, they don’t have too many games against the Big 3 in the AL east till August.  They play 19 games in April,May & June, which should put the Jays into competition.

    Will AA pull off a big trade?

  87. Just found the article I saw a while back re Lind:


    Linds numbers vs lefties are low but then again he’s ok vs LH starters  and miserable against LH relievers. His nemeses in the last 3 years were relievers Hendrickson and Choate (2 singles out of 31 PA’s) and they’re gone. SP’s who gave him the worst problems in the last 3 years: Price and Lester ( 8 for 52)

    If the Jays are serious  about keeping him (and I think they are) they should teach him to bunt  or foul off or take every pitch from those pitchers: anything to get the base. …Or they could platoon him when Those guys are pitching.

    I’ve made the point and it was made again in an earlier comment: his defence at 1B is above league average. I think he’s going to surprise this year.

  88. good article by cathy. it’s ok for the jays to do a long rebuild, but you can’t have beeston blaming the fans for not showing up.

  89. Your description of the league-wide revenue trend is bang on. I am making the statements I make about the Jays specifically. More directly put: I think it sucks immensely that in an era where TV is the core source of revenue growth for a baseball team, my dearest Blue Jays are owned by a group whose interests may well lie in re-investing a whole lot less of that growth than some PR seeking mogul. Fuck.

    I don’t think they’re “cheap”. I think it sucks immensely that in an era where TV…. but, looking back on the number of words I employed in expressing the sentiment, I can understand those who choose to go with “cheap”.

    You’re right that attendence does not equal spending elsewhere in the league and you’re right that we should monitor Rogers’ spending in those terms since that is the only guidance on spending that fans have been given at all. Thanks for putting the payroll data in those terms. However, I just can’t see us expecting ownership to commit to certain levels of spending in advance, which is expensive in ways as abstract as they are real. Nor can I see them giving out a precise budget number, particularly just for PR reasons, when you consider what that can do to negotiations with agents and other teams.

    I hate a lot about this, but I can do nothing at all about it… except fantasize:
    My fantasy is that there is a coup at Rogers, it becomes a monarchy and we get a proper megalomaniac owner. Oh wait, Rogers isn’t an actual empire. Fuck.

  90. That idea is magical: 3m fans = $125m in payroll. Anybody care to guess at the odds of that occurring (both sides of the equation) within the next, say, 10 years?

    I will go with 10%. With more liquor I might make my way up to 25%.

  91. If the Jays had Darvish or Fielder, this board would explode with talk of playoffs.

    Now we are are in wait & see mode. If all the If’s from the roster have career years then 2012 is a playoff team. Stranger things have happened.

    The Jays are relatively scrub free in 2012.

  92. People underestimate the value of a winning franchise in a town filled with losing franchises.

    If i was Rogers I would seize the day & turn the Jays into a powerhouse for 2012.

    If the Jays made the playoffs in 2012, they could sell half the team to Bell & make it prt of MLSE.

  93. Rays had 10 horribl years to get the top draft picks. Rogers won’t allow this team to win less than 80 games per year. They won’t approve tank nation strategy.

  94. Agreed. No guaranttes that 2013 is the magical year. What happens if the Jaus need a piece of the puzzle & the price is too high?

    Do we wait till 2014???

    THE Goodwill AA & Beeston have earned will be destroyed if the team doesn’t play meaningful games by 2013

  95. Agreed. Beeston has to stop annoying the fans. AA was caught of guard with Farrel’s rumors to Boston & darvish.

    The backlash could have been avertedwith the Jays refusing to bid for Darvish. They should have also denounced Fielder or said they weren’t interested.

  96. It would be devastating if Bautista’s interview was made public in March right before the season starts.

  97. They don’t have an 85 million payroll. I think if you added all the teams minor league payrolls the Jays would still be below league avg which would be around 100 million plus.

    The extra few dollars per day for meals is an insignificant amount but a smart move to keep the players from eating too much fast food.

  98. I think the Jays will pay AA whatever he wants to stick around. It will be interesting to see if they keep Farrell after October 2012.  doubt he wants to be a lameduck manager in 2013, when his contract expires.

  99. Agreed. Bautista is a mixed blessing. Without him, AA could have a few more years to uild a contender without pressure. With him, the fans have hope, & he is fun to watch play.

  100. As a former TFC season ticket holder, I can say that they were rowdy. TFC was fun but the team sucked. Jays fans are good at home openers & at  some games against the yankees & red sox. It’s hard to Boo the Jays. I booed Reyes, Millar & E5, but even that was half hearted.

    They are put in positions they can’t succeed at.

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