As promised, here’s a look at the various reactions from the MSMers, and others who were there last night for the Jays’ State of the Franchise event, which… in retrospect I probably could have just put into the Afternoon Snack post. I’ve got bigger and better things to do than get bogged down in shitting on Steve Buffery.
Drew absolutely nails it, eschewing the polite details and getting straight to the nut of the Jays’ subtext: the insane value they place, perhaps by necessity, on control. The extension of that being that “the Toronto Blue Jays and many of their fans don’t see the methods for acquiring better players quite the same.”
“Acquiring young players still in the arbitration or earlier stage of their career gives the Blue Jays freedom from the free market. Freedom from the whims of players wary of playing in the American League East on a sickly green carpet in Canada. When the Jays sit down with an arbitration eligible player and slide a contract that guarantees millions of dollars in exchange for their remaining arbitration years, their agent is not fielding calls from half a dozen other interested parties,” he writes. “If the Jays front office is to be believed (and you are well within your rights to not believe) this is the only time they are free to pursue the players they truly think can build up their team to contention levels.”
John Lott tries to gauge crowd reaction, talking to bewildered fans who want to see their own personal investment in season tickets matched by Rogers, who they feel are intent on keeping the purse strings tight, despite the attempts by Anthopoulos and Beeston to insist it’s a philosophical decision to avoid free agent deals.
“Among those interviewed, younger fans tended toward frustration, while older fans — who experienced the glory years of 1992 and 1993 — seemed more satisfied with the Jays’ current course,” he writes.
The Tao wasn’t able to be in attendance, but thanks to the webcast of the event– inexplicably not broadcast on one of Rogers’ many cable channels, despite shit all else happening in the world of sports last night– and the twittering Twitter fingers of many of us in attendance, he’s been able to make a range of keen observations.
“Give people a fencepost off in the distance, and they’ll train their eyes on it to the exclusion of all else,” he says of Paul Beeston’s misstep last year, remarking that the club could conceivably spend up to $120-million. This time around Beeston left little room for the kind of outrage that his previous remark caused, except on the issue of putting in a grass field.
Also, quite rightly, to the fans who somehow thought otherwise, he warns, “don’t expect your presence at the home opener against the White Sox in 1977 to legitimize your views on Colby Rasmus’ contract.” And by “views” one assumes he, of course, means “ridiculous views.”
Speaking of ridiculous views, Steve Buffery, everybody!
“This is a team that hasn’t made it to the post-season since 1993 and has finished in fourth-place in the AL East the past four years in a row, yet the majority of fans — at least the season-ticket holders who showed up at the annual state of the franchise gathering Monday night — seem to be in some sort of happy daze,” Buffery writes in a frothy, “where’s my riot?” wankfest.
“Recent history has proven,” he writes, about to blow his credibility, “that to make it into the post-season in the AL East on a consistent basis, money is a big factor — unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays and you had the benefit of a lot of high draft picks after years of dwelling in the basement.”
Oh, is that how that worked? Here are the ten top 10 draft picks the Rays have made in their history: Josh Hamilton (lost for nothing), Rocco Baldelli (derailed by injuries), Dewan Brazelton (washout), BJ Upton (solid contributor), Delmon Young (traded for Matt Garza, who was traded for prospects), Jeff Niemann (5.3 fWAR over three seasons), Wade Townsend (washout), Evan Longoria (best player in baseball), David Price (excellent pitcher), Tim Beckham (nothing yet). Obviously some cornerstone pieces, but it’s a lazy joke and horribly unfair to the outstanding work of Andrew Friedman to suggest that Tampa tanked for ten years and is now reaping the benefits. And it’s unfair to Alex Anthopoulos, who has demonstrated in his time as GM that he’s taken many lessons from the success of the Rays.
If you want a toss off a nice horseshit line that will get fans frothing at the mouth the way you want ‘em to, however, it works.
Richard Griffin didn’t quite wet his pants the way Buffery did, but he certainly went straight back to grinding his paper’s most recent rhetorical axe. “Make no mistake,” he writes. “the support for Anthopoulos has changed out on the streets. The honeymoon is not yet over, but you can see it from here. Although he will likely never reach the nadir of public disapproval that ended Ricciardi’s tenure, Alex’s star is no longer as high in the baseball sky as it was even a year ago. The easiest explanation? The off-season has been a disappointment.”
Fortunately for us fans who actually like the way things are going, and who Griffin– among many others– seems surprised exist, the guy running the club isn’t the one falling prey to such short-sightedness.
Jeff Blair of the Globe, in addition to giving us the nugget about Lawrie-for-Pineda actually being discussed, goes in a different direction, explaining that “in a not-very-subtle way, Beeston just told team owner Rogers Communications Inc. the time to test its resolve is just around the corner.”
He also seems very intrigued by Beeston’s assertion about a grass playing surface, which he believes would still leave the Rogers Centre open to holding other events, though it “would necessitate the Rogers Centre being configured as a full-time baseball stadium, Beeston said, which would not be good news for another building tenant, the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos’ lease expires after the 2012 CFL season.”
Nuts and Bolts
Bob Elliott also wrote a State of the Franchise post for the Sun, dealing more with the nuts and bolts, the questions and answers from Beeston, Anthopoulos and Farrell. Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com and Mike Wilner of the Fan 590, both of whom I got a chance to speak with, which was a treat, also both mostly went deep into the nitty gritty of what Beeston and Anthopoulos were saying. Good reads, all.