Literally the second we got out of the studio from recording yesterday’s podcast, which ended off with a lot of talk about Paul Beeston, his apparent sequestration from the media, and the poor job he’s done in general with respect to managing expectations, and there was his ruddy face on the screen of the TV above my desk, as he was, at the very moment we were dumping on him, whipping up expectations in a conversation with guest crew Jeff Blair and Paul Jones on Prime Time Sports.
The talk also included segments about Ricky Romer-woe and the questions about system-wide medical practices and pitching mechanics that have come up in the wake of the club’s injury disaster this year, but, obviously, that’s not what anybody is going to be talking about– least of all, us.
“We went into the 2012 season expecting that we could really make a move, and the way it’s gone, this was a year for us to actually make that move,” he said, referring presumably to the extra Wild Card spot and the vulnerability of the Red Sox and Rays that we’ve witnessed. “But we had the injuries.”
He’s not entirely wrong, of course– though, let’s not pretend like this was a championship-calibre roster that’s only problem was injury– but he quickly made clear that he understands the poor optics of such a statement. “That’s not an excuse,” he continued, “because a lot of teams have injuries. If we sit back and say we’re the only team with injuries– you know, we’re not. A lot of teams have had them.
“But, you know, our pitching has been OK,” he continued, referring to the under-appreciated fact that guys like Carlos Villanueva, Aaron Laffey, and JA Happ have done at least as well as you could have expected of Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek. Getting rambly, he goes on to say that the issue has “been the hitting at the present time– we don’t seem to be able to score runs, and it’s made it difficult. But we will gut it out.”
“Alex has done a terrific job of building the farm system,” he adds, non sequitur-ishly, “but the future, I like to think is now.”
And there we have the key refrain.
“I think that we’re at a point right now where we’ve got to make a move. We’ve got to be aggressive. We’ve got to put ourselves in a position where we’ve got a chance for next year [italics mine], which means that I think we have to be either in the trade market or the free agent market.”
Now, I only italicize the word “chance” because of the inflection in Beeston’s voice. He will use the word again later, slightly more emphatically, making a distinction– at least in my hearing of it– between the incredibly tiresome “hey, we’re pretty average, but if everything humanly possibly breaks our way, who knows?” kind of chance we’ve been sold on forever, and something resembling an actual, legitimate chance.
“The rebuild and the infrastructure is now completed,” he says.
It’s an interesting, hopeful notion, but one that makes me wonder, then, how serious they will be when the opportunity arises to start dealing in some of the prospect capital they’ve built up over the last three years. If a Latos- or Gio-like scenario arises involving, say, Brett Anderson, or Jeff Samardzija, or Lucas Harrell, is that “finished” pipeline going to be in play, or are we going to be pinning our hopes in 2013 on whatever JP Arencibia, Yunel Escobar, a handful of cheap relievers and/or Rogers’ fucking benevolence might bring?
Whatever the case, Beeston is at least saying the right things– Quelle Surprise!– about not making another go of it with the same basic roster we saw this year.
“I think that we’ve now got to put the Blue Jays– for their fans and for everybody else, and for the team itself,” he says, “we’ve got to show them that we’re committed to winning. And I think that this off-season is gonna be one of those off-seasons where it’s gonna be very important for us to go out and be aggressive and to improve the team and give us a chance to win.”
Tremendous words, if there was any reason to– y’know– believe them. Unfortunately for Beeston– and I truly mean thta it’s unfortunate, given that the club has spent a lot more than people want to give them credit for over the past three years, albeit not on the free agent market– he’s going to have to put his money where his mouth is if he expects to satisfy anyone– the most conservative, patient, all-believing Anthopoulos acolytes included. And speaking of money…
“I will say this: it’s not going down,” he says, with respect to payroll, punctuating his money quote with a hefty guffaw.
But, holy shit, I think he can be pretty safely held to account on that statement, technically, seeing as– according to Cot’s– the Jays already have about $65-million committed to 13 players (assuming Davis and Oliver have their options picked up), about $10-million more slated for arbitration eligibles (assuming Litsch, Cecil and Laffey are tendered contracts– Happ and Rasmus most certainly will), and another four million, I figure, for pre-arb contracts to fill out the 25-man roster, which means they’re already only around five-million short of this year’s $83.74-million Opening Day figure.
I mean, whoopty fuck, right? But, bless our soulless greed-eyed corporate overlords, Beeston at least leaves the door open for payroll to go higher.
“The degree it goes up will be dependent on what is available and what we’re able to achieve. I don’t think there’s anybody in the organization, including the ownership, that doesn’t think that we should be taking it to the next level. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be crazy, though, from the point of view of ten-year, twelve-year, thirteen-year contracts. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to go out and try to get the best players, so that we give ourselves a chance. We think that we’re close right now.”
Those really are fantastic words from the team president, if you’re capable of taking them at face value. The problem, of course, that Beeston knows he’s slippery enough (no, not literally… although?) to not worry so much about creating a problem with his mouth that he can’t later wriggle his way out of, which… probably sounds a whole lot dirtier than it needs to.
“The building of the minor leagues and putting ourselves in a position for the future, all of that has been put in place,” he says. “It’s now time to return something to a) those people who’ve supported us, and b) the players themselves.”
Well… let’s fucking see it, huh?