ESPN’s devious plan to allay the fears of Jays fans ready to jump off the ledge came to its inevitable conclusion today, with the release of the top third of their Future Power Rankings (Insider Only), which ranked MLB teams’ well-positionedness for the future based on current talent, their minor league system, ownership and management quality and stability, finances, and contract mobility– i.e. how locked in they are to long-term, potentially ugly deals.

It was a tailor made concept for showing off the Jays as being on the right path, and it fully achieved that goal… kinda.

You see, the Jays turn up as the sixth-best positioned franchise in the Majors. Aaaaaand… the fourth-best positioned franchise in their division. Yes, New York (2), Tampa (3) and Boston (5) all rank ahead of them– based largely on current MLB talent and, in the case of two (guess which!), finances.

Yet, let’s not act like this is bad news (or… well… news at all, really, but you know what I mean).

“In any other division, Toronto probably would have made the playoffs a couple of times over the past decade, and no team will benefit from the extra wild card as much as the Jays. Of course, they could be in position to win the AL East outright very soon,” writes Buster Olney. “Not only do they have arguably baseball’s best hitter (Jose Bautista), phenom (Brett Lawrie) and farm system, they have virtually no long-term commitments. They are probably one or two pitchers from winning this division and have the payroll flexibility and trade chips to make it happen. This sleeping giant is almost ready to wake up.”

Jim Bowden adds that “Lawrie will be a fixture in Toronto’s lineup for years, but the Jays still will need a big bat to accompany him and Bautista. Toronto should pursue Canadian Joey Votto if he becomes available in a trade or as a free agent.”

Hard to argue. And while it’s discouraging to still be thought of as behind the division’s big three– even in terms of future potential– you sure as shit have a better shot of catching them from where the Jays are than if you’re the dead-last-ranked Baltimore Orioles.

Comments (52)

  1. Uhh, who is 1?  Texas?

  2. But I want to win now

  3. Yeah who are 1, 4, and 7? Just curious Stoeten

  4. TEX, STL, ANA

  5. i’m not quite sure how the jays ranked behind the yankees in terms of ‘mobility’?

  6. Here’s the Yankees write-up, for those wondering:
     
    The lowdown

    There’s no question that the Yankees have a significant financial
    advantage over every other club, but that shouldn’t take away from
    general manager Brian Cashman, who has done an excellent job of building
    a quality farm system. Sometimes those prospects become stars in New
    York, such as Robinson Cano. Other times they are used to fill holes via trade, such as when Cashman sent Jesus Montero to Seattle in the Michael Pineda trade, or when the Yankees’ GM used Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson to get Curtis Granderson.
    CC Sabathia
    is showing no signs of slowing down, and Manny Banuelos will soon join
    him and Pineda in the majors to form a formidable trio of starters. With
    Cano, Granderson and Mark Teixeira holding down the offense, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez
    are no longer being relied upon to carry the team, yet are still
    valuable contributors. The cycle of success doesn’t seem likely to end
    any time soon. — Buster Olney

    The next step

    A certain future Hall of Famer, Jeter has no heir apparent in the
    Yankees system. Although Dante Bichette Jr. will someday replace A-Rod,
    the Yankees don’t have anyone in their system who appears on track to be
    their next shortstop. Assuming he picks up his player option, Jeter’s
    contract will expire at the end of the 2014 season. That’s when Elvis Andrus becomes a free agent, and Asdrubal Cabrera will hit the market a year before that. Keep an eye on them as future fits in the Bronx. — Jim Bowden

  7. Keith Law talked about the Jays a bunch on today’s Baseball Today podcast too.

  8. STL #4?  What do they have?

  9. the Cards have a kick ass farm system… good management… and a baseball market that produces full stadiums everyday. 

  10. What about the Phillies?

  11. How did the Jays manage to get just 19 points — fewer than the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks and the Theo-less Red Sox, and the same as the Angels and the Braves?

  12. Just 19 points for management I meant. 

  13. ‘management’ includes ownership + front office + coaching.

    keep in mind that this isn’t exactly a scientific endeavour.

  14. ” They are probably one or two pitchers from winning this division and
    have the payroll flexibility and trade chips to make it happen. This
    sleeping giant is almost ready to wake up.”

    Yes, but 2 of the 5 teams ahead of them have proven in the past that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win without any payroll restrictions.  It may not always work, but if the Jays make a move for a big bat or two pitchers, the Yanks and Sox have the ability to overpay for anybody to stay competitive. 

    I know that this article is supposed to be a positive thing, but isn’t it essentially saying that we’re destined to be in 4th place for the next 5 years?

  15. Ugh. Only if you believe that because you think the Jays didn’t “do whatever it takes to win” this off-season, they never will. Which, of course, is ridiculous.

  16. 2012 Blue Jays Slogan: “At least we’re not the Orioles.”

  17. Whatever it takes? No payroll restrictions? Didn’t Boston just trade away their starting SS for payroll relief, and have been unable to sign a starter this offseason because they have hit their internal limits in payroll?

  18. Unlike to this post. Though the NY and BOS are much better run, Chicago showed how using big finances to be competitive is not a sustainable process. Doing “whatever it takes” where that may hamstring the future of your club is not really a sustainable model. 

  19. forget all the writers, articles and opinions. i recommend that all blue jays staff and fans listen to the following, and carry on.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  20. Because mobility is a function of both available money and money tied up in long term contracts. Obviously the latter is in the Jays favor, but the former is in the Yankees favor by a wide margin.

  21. OriLOLes ranked way too high. Olney’s on drugs (or so I heard/read somewhere…).

  22.  If the Yanks had signed Prince to be their DH, do you honestly think Boston wouldn’t have found a way to increase their internal “limit”?

  23. That’s one side of it.  The other side would be that it’s just as ridiculous to think they will given that there is no history of the current ownership grouping having done that before.

  24. Not true.  Mobility was supposed to be a measure of how easily you could trade the pieces you have if you had to.  The Jays should have scored much higher on that.  Even their highest paid player is making half what he’s worth.

    The ‘former’ you’re referring to was the ‘finances’ metric.

  25. Except when they went out and splurged on BJ Ryan, AJ Burnett and gave monstrous extensions to Rios/Wells.

  26. If they are 4th in their division how can they be 6th overall? Through no fault of their own..mostly geography.. but if you have arguably 3 of the top 5 in baseball in your division, your position as a franchise is “fucked”. How that equates to 6th is beyond me. I’d rather be the Colorado Rockies because at least you have a chance of making the playoffs.

  27. A Firebird with a whammy bar…that is the shit.

  28. The extra wild card will not help the Jays at all. Starting next season, Texas and LAA get to play @17 games each vs a weak Mariners squad, a terrible A’s squad and an Astros team that may be the worst of the bunch. Both the Rangers and Angels are almost a lock for 100 wins a year for the next 4-6 years. That leaves the Jays having to topple two of NYY, Bos, or TB for the 2nd wild card.  Basically,  if they’re not good enough to win the division, fo-get-a-bout-it

  29. ” The extra wild card will not help the Jays at all.”

    Sorry, but that’s a dumb statement.

    At an incredibly basic logical level, having 5 teams in the playoffs instead of 4 helps the Jays chances of making the playoffs.  Because …. a higher percentage of teams will be making the playoffs.  Everyone’s odds will be increased.

    It will still be hard as hell, but it absolutely helps the Jays.

  30. ” no team will benefit from the extra wild card as much as the Jays”

    I fully agree with this.  I still think they’ll have a hell of a time making the playoffs (in 2012 in particular), but I absolutely think meaningful late August/September baseball is attainable.  Judging from the past decade or so, you could guess the 2nd WC could be had with around 90 wins.  I could see the Jays winning 85 or 86 games and being in the periphery of a race.

    Doesn’t sound like much, but we haven’t had even that in 20 years.  Imagine a September series against TBay, where we’re 4 out of the 2nd WC (instead of 9 out of the 1st WC), and the games actually matter?  Would help attendance, which in turn should help justify a larger payroll.

  31. That was when Ted Rogers (who I think was probably a sports fan) was calling the shots. Nadir Mohamed is the now the boss. It feels different under this regime.

  32. You may want to get used to the Yanks and BoSox trying to avoid the luxury tax. Firstly, it bites more now than it used to under the new CBA (part of the changes to the overall revenue-sharing structure) and, secondly, having money to spend is not the same thing as having money to give to the Rays, etc.

  33. You must be a university student. Only the young and naive would think that mathematical probability had anything to do with it.

  34. I don’t consider having the 12th highest payroll in the league ‘splurging’.  Look it up, since Rogers has owned the Jays they have never been in the top 10 in terms of payroll.

  35. That’s a purely theoretical and over-simplified arguement that doesn’t work in a system with an unbalanced schedule.  In practice, there were two playoffs spots that the Jays could have contended for and with the new wild card team, there still are only two spots that the Jays can contend for.  With so many intradivision games, it will be virtually impossible for 3 playoff teams to emerge from a single division regardless of how strong or weak that division is.

  36.  ”That’s a purely theoretical and over-simplified arguement that doesn’t work in a system with an unbalanced schedule.  With so many intradivision games, it will be virtually impossible for 3
    playoff teams to emerge from a single division regardless of how strong
    or weak that division is.”

    Really?

    Lets look at the standings on ESPN.com.

    If there had been 2 Wild Cards…

    In 2011 3 playoff teams would have come from the AL East.
    In 2010 3 playoff teams would have come from the AL East.
    In 2009 3 playoff teams would have come from the NL West.
    In 2008 3 playoff teams would have come from the Al East.
    In 2007 3 playoff teams would have come from the NL West.

  37.  Well, I know I was being a snarky asshole in my reply to you, but I just don’t understand when people make the argument that an extra WC won’t make it easier for the Jays to make the playoffs. 

    It will still be very hard.  But of course it would be easier.  I mean, the second WC can be had with fewer wins than the first WC.  So the Jays would need fewer wins to make the playoffs.  So it will be easier than with one WC.  Still hard as hell, but easier than it used to be.

  38. Why the fuck haven’t you been banned yet?

  39. Also, Toronto souvlaki sucks.

  40. ummm … yes?  The only moves the Red Sox made this year was trading away their starting SS and a bunch of minor moves. They didn’t make the playoffs last year. If that wasn’t enough to increase payroll I don’t understand how a move by the Yankees would have been.

  41. A Boston report recently projected the following as the Red Sox rotation:

    1.  Jon Lester
    2. Josh Beckett
    3. Clay Buccholz
    4. Daniel Bard
    5. Vicente Padilla

    I would be worried if I wuz a Red Sox fan.

  42. While it will of course be easier for the Jays to make the playoffs with 5 playoff teams instead of 4, I think it would be more accurate to say that MLB has “split” the wildcard.

    In other words, the 1st wildcard spot has been devalued massively. It’s worth half of what it used to be. Think about that.

    Like many fans, I’d rather see the divisions nixed, a balanced schedule and the best 4 teams make the playoffs.

    Sure, it’s promising to see the Jays ranked 6 on this subjective exercise. But they were a top 10 organization for many years under Ricciardi and that didn’t do a whole lot.

    This isn’t to bitch at management or ownership or anything. It’s just frustrating as hell to hear Chris Carpenter praise the stability of STL’s ownership and management and link it to their success when the biggest factor, quite frankly, is the piece of shit league and division in which they play.

  43.  The Jays have made it clear to fans that they will not sign free agents to more than 5 year contracts. They have payroll parametres & intend to focus on in house development & trades when possible.

    The Yankees & the Red Sox are willing to make short term deals to get into the playoffs.

    The Jays will not make a move until the trade deadline & if so, won’t sacrifice long term objectives which are to run a cost effective team with no bad contracts.

  44.  With payroll twice as much as the jays , I wouldn’t worry about their finances.

  45.  Very good point. There is a big difference between being out of the race in July & playing meaningful games in August. Think back to last year when the rays were out of it in August & came back to get a game ahead of the collapsing rays.

    I believe that much of the offseason frustration was that if we got 1 5 WAR player we would be virtually guaranteed to be in a playoff race.

    With Darvish & Fielder we are contenders from April 5th & this would go along way to creating a buzz throughout the year

  46.  Rogers deserves credit for trying to be competitive. All 3 players flamed out plusi njuries to other players ruined the chances at a playoff run.

  47. I don’t like this new playoff format, wild card, one game playoff. I don’t like the new hockey playoff either.  Not so long ago, it was the Wales Conference, Campbell Conference for the hockey divisions. For playoff placing, it was the   TOP   16 teams, 1st played the 16th, then so on. It’s not fair a team gets into the playoffs, JUST because the won there weak division. All sport leagues should return to this format, then they’d have to balance the playing schedule; they sure make enough money these days too afford the traveling expenses.

  48. Perhaps I stand corrected…but small sample sizes are a dangerous thing and that appears to be primarily due to the rise of the Rays.  To continue your thought, if two teams could have gotten wild cards, then:

    2011 playoff teams – 3 AL East
    2010 playoff teams – 3 AL East
    2009 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2008 playoff teams – 3 AL East
    2007 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2006 playoff teams – 3 from AL Central
    2005 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2004 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2003 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2002 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2001 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    2000 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    1999  playoff teams – AL Scattered
    1998 playoff teams – AL Scattered 3 from AL East and Jays make it
    1997 playoff teams – AL Scattered
    1996 – playoff teams – AL Scattered
    1995 – playoff teams – AL Scattered
    1994 – playoff teams – AL Scattered

    So since 1994, an extra wild card team would have produced 3 teams from the same division in the American league 28% of the time.  It would have allowed the Jays to make the playoffs once (6% extra).

    You’re right that it’s not zero percent, but I’m not holding my breath on it.

  49. Riiiiight….but Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Alvarez, and McGowan has you sleeping well?

  50. Call me insane if you wish but I like our depth.  The Sox have signed Silva, Cook & Ohlendorf to minor league deals.  Unless the Sox are able to find a decent SP, there are strong odds that they will be trotting out these guys in the back end of the rotation by June. 

    The Jays have more intriguing guys (namely Litsch, Carreno, Hutchison & McGuire).

    The Sox have 3 starters with solid track records.  Dice-K might be ready by June so we’ll add him as number 4.  They will need 7 or 8 starters to make it through the season.  If they can’t add any decent arms and if the retread projects as noted above don’t pan out, it could be a long season for the Sox in terms of their pitching. 

  51. what kind of moron would think it IS zero percent?

    It brings us THAT much closer, so I’ll takeit.

    Also the thought of a 90 win Jays eliminating a 98 win Red Sox in a one game series would make my day.

  52. Sure. But I mean, 28% is a lot different than ‘virtually impossible’.

    I’m not saying it’s likely.  It will still be hard.

    But it will make it easier to compete for a playoff spot.  That’s all I’m saying.  Easier not easy.

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