Tomorrow is the big day over at ESPN.com, as Keith Law will roll out his Top 100 prospects list, plus a top ten for each club. Today, however, he gives a taste of what’s in store, ranking all the farm systems in the game, placing the Jays all the way up in third– which should come as no surprise to you if you read the title of this post.

The Jays trail only the Padres– buoyed by a strong draft and a bounty of prospects acquired for Mat Latos this winter– and the Rays, who still have rookie-eligible Matt Moore on their list, whereas Law points out that he’s “ranked the 30 MLB teams’ farm systems based solely on the players currently in the organization who have not yet lost their major league rookie eligibility. Thus, Brett Lawrie doesn’t count for the Toronto Blue Jays.” If you could go back in time and flip the eligibility of Lawrie and Moore [Note: you can't], I suspect you’d see a difference in the rankings.

Regardless, the third overall rank is more than impressive for a number of reasons. For one, it demonstrates that last year’s meteoric rise up his system rankings for the Jays was no fluke. Law ranked the Jays’ system 18th in 2009, 16th in 2010– with the caveat that, had the Jays not acquired prospects for Scott Rolen and Roy Halladay they may have ranked last– and fourth last year.

Their third place rank this year comes with even further optimism, as Law calls them “the organization most likely to be No. 1 on this list next winter.”

This also bodes well for the number of Jays we might see on his Top 100, as he said in a chat late last month that he was finding that his “top 100 is loaded with high-upside guys from A-ball or below.” Sound like the Jays’ system much?

He also had this to say:

One of the many reasons criticism of Rogers Communications, the owner of the Blue Jays, for being stingy with free agents is so ignorant is that the club has spent aggressively in the amateur markets during the past three years, grabbing high-ceiling high school players and Latin American prospects by stockpiling picks and paying whatever it took to sign those players.

I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s a subject that we’ve tackled around here before. Ad nauseam.

In a mid-December post featuring probably my best Photoshop ever, I worked out that the Jays had spent $22.5-million in the draft over the last two years, compared to just $9-million the previous two, and almost another $20-million internationally in 2010 and 2011, compared to just $1.75-million, according to the scant information available, in the previous two years– a spending increase of about $30-million over two years, not even including monies used to beef up scouting and player development.

Those expenditures don’t show up in payroll figures. Had the Jays instead spent an extra $15-million on MLB payroll each of the last two seasons, they’d have been at $85-million for 2011, and a hair over $100-million for 2012. Casual fans and insufferable talk radio callers would be a lot happier, and the club would be a whole lot worse off in the long run and not much better in the short-term for it.

Feel free to, y’know, maybe actually tell people this every once in a while, Alex.

Comments (32)

  1. AA does his best tell people in a roundabout way by stating it’s best to add through within or through trades.

  2. Your last line probably hits the nail on the head more than anything else when it comes to getting that point out to the media and fans. It definitely would have helped their PR cause for them to champion that fact a little more even if doesn’t assuage the fans that want spending now. Ultimately, it might not bring them all that closer to the Sox in terms of total spending and only narrows the gap on the Yankees by roughly $5 million a year it does bring them closer to the teams in the middle of payroll pack.

  3. Maybe Anthopoulos doesn’t tell people how much they’ve spent because he doesn’t want casual fans furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand why they’re spending on amateur players and not free agents.

  4. Quality Simpsons reference.

  5. Had not seen the mid-December post and photoshop.  One of my favorite movies.  I am sure that the Dude would be very happy.

    AA isn’t the type of guy that will pump his own tires.  You are correct in stating that he should in regards to the spending the club has incurred for its minor league system, international signings, scouting, etc.   But to casual baseball fans, especially those who clamour to see a big FA acquisition (insert any of the big names this offseason), this doesn’t ring a bell for them.

    I think the Jays still need to make a splash at some point to attract said casual baseball fans.  To this end, I am still disappointed we were unable (or unwilling) to land Darvish (and we’ll see how that works out in Texas).  With the talent available in the minors, I am hopeful that we’ll see something happen before the July 31 trade deadline.  Not convinced that we need a Votto (or that he’d be worth the ransom the Reds will be seeking), but a front-end starter could be useful.

    I do like what AA is doing.  Open 2012 and see what you have at the MLB level and the MiLB level.  Identify needs and weaknesses.   Target teams with pieces that could help.  Dress up your prospects and make some calls. 

     

  6. it’s such a gross affront to continually suggest that ‘casual’ fans don’t understand the concept of renewing talent from within an organization. the issue isn’t that a casual fan doesn’t want to invest in the future; that’s obvious.

    to suggest as well that someone you’re smarter than others because youre willing to excuse the ongoing lacklustre performance (ie: zero playoffs in over 15 years) because of quasi-objective evaluations of the minor league talent is just stunning. this blog often makes rick santorum look like he’s got a clearer sense of how the world works.

    the real piece of info that hasn’t been discussed one bit here is the real-world conversion rate of prospects to MLB status (ie: all-star calibre or better) with a corollary metric of # of championships won.

    that’s the only measurement worth discussing. anything else is really just apologia in disguise; whether this is for AA or Rogers.

  7. Blue Jay fans have become a curious group.
    The optics of Lawrie’s douche-baggery mean nothing, even though we know the team wants to use him as the cornerstone of the franchise for marketing purposes… yet this same group demands the GM either pretend to care about spending money or explain himself, so as to not sully the image of what he is trying to do.

  8. Let me preface what I am about to say, by agreeing with you in principle. That said,
    can we compare apples to apples for a moment? The notion that somehow
    it’s only the Blue Jays that are spending money outside of their actual
    payroll is becoming nearly as tedious as the patently incorrect idea
    that the club needs to increase that same payroll to some arbitrary cap -
    like the 120 million that McCown hasn’t been able to shut up about
    since he mentioned it nearly 3 years ago! What I’d love to see is a list
    that breaks out what each spends in actual salaries, draft bonuses,
    scouting and international signings. It would be cool to then add up the
    totals to see the real payroll costs of each team. I realize that I
    could probably get off my lazy ass and just do this myself, but then
    what would I have to bitch about. I feel fairly confident that the Jays
    would move from somewhere in the bottom 10 of actual payroll to
    somewhere in the top 15 of total payroll. Bottom line: you’re better
    than the majority of bloggers out there – your former partner in
    crime, Tao to name a couple – at not getting sucked into the whole black and
    white debate that has raged (more than ever) this past off season, but
    for the love God stop with the talk that the Jays are somehow exploiting
    an inefficiency. Until Bud starts to award a wildcard for Law rankings I
    can’t let myself get any more riled up for this than I do for the free
    agent fracas. Peace out dildo. 

  9. Oh, such impressive, blustery words in that first paragraph. Too bad I didn’t write what you’re suggesting I did.

    And the rest is just as ridiculous. The way the club is being run under Anthopoulos– with the emphasis on scouting and acquiring and developing high-end controllable talent– is precisely a rejection of the ways of the previous 15 years. Supporting what they’re doing is exactly that too.

    Please, go back to cheering for the Leafs, and leave big words like “apologia” to people who aren’t dumb as fuck.

  10. Fuck ‘em. Why suffer fools gladly? It’s a pointless endeavor, especially since that marginal portion of the fanbase will be flocking back to the team once the end goal is met.

  11. Well I can tell you that with the money they have committed to payroll this year and the money they get allotted for the amateur draft this year it should come fairly close to what JP spent in 08 on major league payroll alone.

    You also have to remember that teams like the Sox and Yankees have been spending a lot of overslot money on prospects that dropped because of signability issues for years.  It’s one of the reasons the amateur draft was changed.

    While adding in the amateur and international money would move them closer to the middle it doesn’t close the gap on the top spenders all that much because of the above reasons. Also it’s only a recent phenomenon. Remember there was a point earlier this decade where payroll was near the bottom and they weren’t spending on amateur drafts or scouting.

  12. Dude just won the Player Haters Ball

  13. a corollary metric of # of championships won based around how many prospects you produce? In other words, you want a ‘metric’ that proves developing talent is a worthwhile endeavor? Go light yourself on fire so I can pee on you, guilt free.

    That being said, with all the advanced metrics around these days, how is it that ‘Gross Payroll’ (someone come up with a catchier name!) isn’t a thing? A payroll statistic that includes all the expenditures made on the draft and international spending… I’d like to see where the Jays stack up in that area vs the rest of league.

  14. I vote for grope. I know there isn’t an e in gross payroll, but come on who doesn’t like a grope.

  15. With the enforced limitations of the new CBA, I suspect that information will be more accessible– but there will be so much less hidden outside MLB payroll that it won’t matter as much by then either.

  16. I am glad they are promoting from within.  If you arent acquiring a top end talent, dont settle for mediocre cause you probably have a better chance of finding that top end talent within your own organization.  Only if you dont trade it away.
    BUT
    Twice over the last few years the Jays have failed to sign their top pick.  Thats not good. Especially when it boils down to a difference of probably half a million to get him signed.

  17. I don’t think last year’s lack of signing the 1st round pick is as bad as you make it out to be.  They essentially drafted 2 first round talents (Beade and Norris) with sign-ability issues knowing their chances of getting both was quite low, but chances of getting at least one was fairly good.  No one would be talking about this if Beade had signed instead of Norris, even though it would have made essentially no difference to the minor league system (actually, it would probably be worse since we get the pick for Beade back this year, and I believe we would have lost the one used for Norris) .

  18. Your last point is a good one. If  they knew about the coming ramifications of the new CBA as they claimed recently, overpaying for Bede would have been a moot point this past summer since it’s unlikely top picks going forward will have the precedent of those kinds of past deals to fall back on. All the teams are going to use the excuse of the CBA when it comes down to not offering the world during negotiations this coming summer.  That said, since it’s the first year of penalties, I would expect some teams to go slightly over cap if the right player is available especially since this year’s draft is supposed to lean heavily in favor of high school players this year.

  19. Was the Law-rie day picture based off the Keith Law apostle picture? They look kinda similar when you consider the way the stick figure Lawrie and Keith Law Jesus are standing.

  20. For your reading pleasure on the conversion rates: 
    http://www.royalsreview.com/20… 

    The bust rate is around 70% against 17% being superior for top 100 prospects.  Don’t have time for an in depth analysis of the info presented there but it’s a fair starting point.

  21. Is it really ignorant to criticize a team for not signing FA’s because they’ve spent in other areas? It may make it misguided or, I suppose, shortsighted but it’s not like criticizing the team’s lack of dropping money on free agents means you’re unaware of other aspects of the organization. 

    MLB payroll is it’s own issue. If we start including things like signing bonuses paid to draft picks/international players in the equation then the 100 million dollar benchmark loses it’s meaning. If the Jays still wind up 40-60 million dollars behind other teams in total spending does it really matter if you say it’s 100 million as opposed to 85? I mean, that sort of thing may work on idiots calling into talk radio shows but we could distract them with jingling our keys. 

  22. Don’t have time to go into this much but here’s some info on the conversion rate. 
    http://www.royalsreview.com/20

  23. What do you suggest AA and Rogers do?  Where did they fail this past off-season?  Should they have tied up Prince Fielder for 10 years like the Tigers did?

    We rid ourselves of the Wells contract last off-season (and I still can’t believe that one).  This will afford the club more payroll flexibility in the near term.  Said flexibility allows AA to make a trade or sign a FA.  The fact that he hasn’t made a major move this off-season is a baseball decision and not rooted in fiscal restraint.

    After the Lackey, Crawford and Gonzalez contracts, you think the Red Sox have any payroll flexibility?  Thanks to luxury tax implications, the Red Sox in fact do not have much payroll flexibility (ie:  Scutaro salary dump to the Rockies).

  24. Nails. Ahhh…. the simple truths in life.

  25. It is not necessary to get all defensive and interpret the statement about casual fans as some kind of statement of intellectual superiority. All it really implies is that there might be more frustration, cynicism and skepticism generated amongst some fans than understanding generated in others. It might not pay to explain the strategy, if your strategy is not short term. The fact that recent history makes fans’ cynicism quite reasonable probably only makes AA less likely to want to talk about it.

    We wants to ignore all of us until he wins. Then he knows he won’t get any annoying questions :-)

  26. Oh… I dislike groping… I hadn’t realized I was weird that way.

  27. The $100m benchmark? Seriously? Inflation is already at work on the meaning of any such benchmark.

  28. Not signing the 1st rounder doesn’t bother me much, considering that the Jays’ drafts over the past few years has landed so much talent in the later rounds.

    Remember, draft position isn’t always an indicator of true talent. Look how many of the projected first round picks this year were previously drafted before: the projected 1st overall pick this year, Mark Appel was previously drafted in the 20TH ROUND.

  29. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of using prospects as trade pieces.  Remember how Zack Stewart went from being “A Roy Halladay type guy” to a “number three starter” as soon as he was traded?  The Jays’ll be lucky if three or four of their top ten prospects fulfil their potential, and, hey, two or three of them would net you a pretty good major league player, who, even if they’re still young, is much more proven.  That they have the depth to do this and maintain a strong system is remarkable, and not something AA hasn’t noticed; he’s said enough times that he sees the club being improved mainly by trades.   That is the second, and potentially much more immediate, advantage of a deep, strong farm system.

  30. Agreed. They also got a 28 year old closer and his 119 ERA+ for a AA relief pitcher which consensus agrees has “good but not great” stuff. 

    I looked up Santos on Baseball Reference, Tom Henke is the first on the list for similarity scores.  Interesting.

  31. I wasnt saying they had a bad drafts…i think the opposite.  I think AA is doing a great job, especially with drafting and development.  But when you dont sign the #1 guys you are targeting, it hurts.  There is no way around it.  Yes they still had a good draft, but with their #1 picks in the fold they would have been an amazing drafts.  That would be 2 more studs, however it appears we get those picks back as someone mentioned above.

  32. It is unlikely that AA and the FO would decide to draft a high-ceiling but low signability pitcher before extensive research of CBA. I for one am not worried.

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