johnsonhits

The Jays did what was expected of them and what they needed to do over the weekend, losing to Yu Darvish on Friday, but gaining ground on the first place Orioles with a pair of wins against Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch, winning their first series of the “second half,” and coming through a series for the first time in who-knows-how-long without the spectre of yet some other player landing on the DL.

There was another spectre that hung over the club this weekend, though, and it wasn’t an unfamiliar one.

Bob Elliott tweeted on Friday night that he’d heard from a source that the Jays had been telling other teams that they can’t take any money back in trade.

That itself would be bad enough — though we could at least try to convince ourselves it’s possible the report is wrong, or that the club is only just saying that as some sort of bargaining tactic — but then Alex Anthopoulos had to go and be coy with media about it, issuing a textbook non-denial denial when asked about the money.

Prior to yesterday’s win, Anthopoulos told reporters, like Scott MacArthur of TSN.ca, “We can add players. We have the ability to have that dialogue at any time. I don’t see any reason why we won’t be able to add players and obviously players make money. No one plays for free.”

Not exactly a comforting statement, given that they’ve obviously added a bunch of league-minimum guys so far this year, and that the real question is whether they can add a big ticket item.

Jeff Blair writes about this subject as well, in his latest for Sportsnet, suggesting the Jays will have flexibility next winter, but only because of expensive players like Brandon Morrow, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera, Sergio Santos, J.A. Happ, Adam Lind, and Casey Janssen potentially coming off the books.

I don’t think they’re clever enough to have done so by design, but Rogers and the front office have certainly made it difficult to single one or the other out for blame in this mess. The payroll the Jays are running is very healthy — the 10th best in baseball — and the fact that it appears to be maxed out isn’t really Rogers’ problem, when you think about it. It’s the front office’s job to allocate the payroll dollars, and if ownership has given them a healthy budget, the problem — at least in their eyes and the eyes of those bizarrely sympathetic to them — lies with the front office. The reality is, if course, more complicated than that. One hopes that the front office didn’t max out it’s theoretical budget in the winter prior to 2013 with misguided assuredness that they would be so good on the field that future payroll concerns would be rendered moot. The coronation-like atmosphere that surrounded the club last season certainly doesn’t make one think that they mightn’t have been, though. And as I argued around here at the time of the Ervin Santana embarrassment, it’s not like executives who were part of J.P. Ricciardi’a front office should have been surprised when Rogers refused to keep pushing the spending maximum after their massive outlay of cash yielded so little return on investment.

So, it’s not all cheap Rogers, and it’s not all dumb Anthopoulos, it’s just more embarrassment for an organization that often seems to have a little too comfortable a relationship with embarrassment.

I mean, for fuck sakes, the team is so well positioned for the first time in so long, and this is what we seriously fucking get? Fans left to bicker over which tier of this organization is more short-sighted and inept?

It’s maddening as fuck that Rogers doesn’t see the value in pushing payroll just a few percentage points higher — figuring, then, that the abject failure of their handpicked baseball men is a better option than budging an inch on the budget for a branch of the company that provides such tremendous cheap content to their many TV networks and other other platforms, and that could be a strong, positive pillar of their brand — and also that the front office can’t or won’t convince them otherwise. It makes one understand, just a little bit, the chorus of fucks screaming, “DO SOMETHING, ASSHOLES!!”

I don’t think it’s necessarily that simple, though, either. The club was able to get players to sign off on deferrals this spring in order to free enough 2014 payroll to bring in Ervin Santana, and while it’s as least as much of a cruel fucking sad joke as that scheme (not to mention possibly more difficult to pull off in-season), one would think that option might still be out there. Or… like I said, maybe the original report is simply untrue.

The whole, sorry history of this ownership makes it seem entirely plausible, though, but for the moment we just don’t really know what to believe — and we probably won’t know for six more weeks, until after August’s deadline for trades involving players who have passed through waivers.

What almost especially sucks — “almost” because it all does indeed fucking suck — is that this is the conversation we’re having on a weekend where the Jays gave us signs that they may actually be able to snap out the funk they’ve been in. They scored runs, they looked like the break served its purpose, the schedule ahead is favourable, and they got word that some of their injured players are making better progress than expected. The ultra-cynical can be forgiven for thinking it’s just another serving of false hope, but Edwin Encarnacion is swinging off a tee, Adam Lind is out of his walking boot and swinging off a tee, and Brett Lawrie is out of his splint and taking ground balls, with swinging and gripping a bat his next step.

And frankly, as eye-rollingly frustrating as it would be to once again have the club try to use the fucking “hey, getting those guys back is as good as making a trade” line, at this point I can live with that. Just hold on for another couple weeks, for fuck sakes, and I can live with that.

Comments (75)

  1. So what’s your gut telling you Andrew? Does AA have another ninja move up his sleeve? Its not like AA hasn’t surprised us before…

  2. Getting those guys back may well be as good as making a trade.

    • Thought the same thing. If…IF…Edwin, Adam and Brett come back healthy, all of a sudden it looks like a pretty righteous batting order, and the defense gets better to boot.

      • hoping for those guys to come back quickly, while not losing too much ground, while still needing drew and marcus to be studs…. thats a lot of hoping.
        not saying it’s impossible, i hope it does happen, but it seems like a sloppy bet

    • Yes…like making a trade that gets you right back to where you started the season. Totally the same thing as making an actual trade that improves the team.

  3. The sportsnet video interview with AA did a lovely job of handing. The GM a straw man to knock over. With the concern that we can’t take on salary in any deal, the question put to AA wasn’t that one, but was “but you can go out and make the trade, right?”
    Providing him with the opportunity to say “of course”, when the real question is can you make a trade that results in taking on salary…..
    Did not make me feel better, but like you say, we won’t know until September.

  4. Getting those injured guys back helps a lot for as long as everyone stays healthy. That said, putting all your stock in the entire team being more or less healthy for two months doesn’t seem likely to end well for the team, especially if the Orioles and/or Yankees get better by the end of this month.

  5. Bang on.

    It really is a damn shame that this is part of the conversation right now. Best shot we have had in 20 years and instead of a greater focus and discussion on the merits of possible trade scenarios and scoreboard watching, we are debating the points you set out above.

    I mean of course we are all still following the team very closely, but there is this damn cloud tempering my enthusiasm.

    We’ve all waited so long for this – it really sucks that a portion of our enjoyment is being sidetracked by this discussion.

    Nevertheless, Go Jays!

  6. “it’s just more embarrassment for an organization that often seems to have a little too comfortable a relationship with embarrassment”

    Hey, at least we’re not the Dis-astros

    • Who are also causing themselves more embarrassment with this prospect stuff

    • I had a friend way way back in high school who would go on with his father about everyone who was doing less them him in life. One day his Dad looked at him and said ” Try comparing yourselves to the winners instead of the losers for once”.

      Smart baseball in the long run might dictate doing nothing but the Yanks and Boston could be powerhouses again before we know it, and we could be left with a team that could kick ass in this division right know but be an afterthought in the former scenario. What I mean is will our future team be able to compete with Boston in a few years if we stand pat and keep our prospects or not. AA has to make that judgement I guess. If he thinks no then go for it this year, it may be a while before the opportunity presents itself again.

  7. Biggest “COME THE FUCK ON” moment for injuries IMO, was when Mr. RedBull was nailed in the hands 3 times within a week while up to bat and twice within the same series. How does no one in the whole league not think that looks a little suspect…?

    • Hanley Ramirez got nailed twice last night by 98 and 99 mph fastballs. Shit happens.

    • I don’t understand what you’re getting at here. There was a cross-team cooperative conspiracy to break Brett Lawrie’s finger?

      • Just a bout of frustration that needed a release. All though I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Reds decided that running the ball in on his hand would jam up his swing, as JL pointed out below that his hands hang out above the plate.

        I get that shit happens as KD pointed out above you, but these guys are top caliber pitchers, they know where they’re trying to put the ball I would say about 85-90% of the time.

    • ???
      What?

    • Run out of tinfoil?

    • It is baseball. Also, Brett is more likely to get hit in the hands then most hitters in virtue of his stance. his hands are right over the plate (doing that weird hitch).

  8. “I mean, for fuck sakes, the team is so well positioned for the first time in so long, and this is what we seriously fucking get? Fans left to bicker over which tier of this organization is more short-sighted and inept?”

    Isn’t this what every fans around every team do every year? Especially the teams that don’t make the playoffs. I hardly find this something uniquely Blue Jays. The line ‘owners are committed to winning’ is a phrase that means something when the team is actually winning.

    When a team doesn’t make the playoffs, we search for someone to blame….what team and its fans don’t engage in this bickering? And, assuming there is bickering, what can said team/owner/gm do to quell the fears that doesn’t send out more questions? This really feels like a concern that is quintessentially [insert team here].

  9. Can Rogers really be so short sighted to believe that not allowing AA any flexibility payroll-wise won’t result in a loss of revenue? Being miserly today will result in a loss of faith from the fan base and will yield smaller crowds and smaller revenues for food and merchandise. They have to understand that, right?

    • I think if you set a budget for one of your business units and they come back later in the year asking for more money, you’re 100% within your right to tell them no.

      If AA was given a budget and met that budget already, this is on him.

      • “within theirs rights” – yes, of course.

        “smart business” – not even close.

        • Going over budget is universally accepted as one of the worst ways to run a business.
          AA got cocky, this is the definition of hubris.

  10. Its Rogers fault. The max budget is a moving target and they seem to have shrunk the ceiling after last year. No way AA makes the Marlins trade if hes told that maxes your budget. Don’t think hes that inept. Seems like his best move this off season is package Reyes Buerhle and a budget friendly contract like Bautista and completely re-tool getting younger, cheaper and with some great prospects. Kind of like how the Red Sox packaged AGon so they could dump Beckett and Crawford. Sad because they could win the division this season but they have no depth due solely to the budget. Sad.

  11. Yeah…sorta disheartening when the team finally gets within a handful of games of games, and it seems like Rogers is throwing out the anchor, payroll-wise. But I get it…there’s a budget – and like lots of people and organizations, that’s the budget, bottom line.
    But I’m seeing multiple reports of Jays scouting guys like Cliff Lee…like Chase Utley (but they say he won’t waive a no-trade), Dan Uggla and Chris Denorfia,…and that’s just in the past 24 hours.
    I’m wondering about the apparent disconnect between AA saying “no more payroll” and the reports about multiple players being scouted. (yes, I know a lot of “reports” are bullshit, but still..)
    God, I hope they don’t trade any of our young pitching gems.

  12. If we said the Jays would be 3 games back of the division and 1.5 back of the wild card in Spring Training any Jays fan would have taken that.

    As well, we want an impact player. Most of them are the kind that would be given a qualifying offer at the end of the season so clubs know if they hold on to the asset they get value back, so you have to beat that value. GMs didn’t value picks like this a decade ago.

    Does that mean deadline deals have a way higher price now? Likely.

    Case and point Chase Headley. How much do you want to give up for a guy with an 88 OPS+ (Far below Franny and Tolly)? The Padres know they will be able to draft a PROSPECT via the qualifying offer, so what price are they sitting on? Do we want AA to pay that?

    • Sadly this isn’t the first time in the recent past that the Jays were still in it this late.
      I looked up the standings from a couple of years ago. Didn’t realize that the Jays were only 3.5 back of the second wild card as late as July 29, 2012. People were clamouring for the Jays to get some pitching (that was the year that 3 starters went down in one week), and all AA acquired was Delabar and Lincoln. Then they had a road trip from hell and fell off the map.
      Really hoping that doesn’t happen again.

    • Chase Headley is not getting a QO from the Padres.

    • Padres will NOT offer him q QO of 15m therefore no draft pick is in play. He’d take the 15m in a heartbeat

  13. On this note:

    ” … a branch of the company that provides such tremendous cheap content to their many TV networks and other other platforms, and that could be a strong, positive pillar of their brand…”

    Interesting article over at Fangraphs on the subject of tv ratings:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/mid-season-local-tv-ratings-and-measuring-fan-engagement/

    Those number look awfully low compared to the Jays’ ratings. I have no idea what that means, but I feel like Rogers should be able to afford to pay for a second baseman.

    • The Jays have the 10th highest payroll in baseball….so they CAN ALREADY afford to pay a second baseman, but they have chosen to spend that money elsewhere. Because the decision to do so has not panned out in your opinion, does that mean that Rogers is an asshole?

      Probably not.

      I obviously can’t say for sure that Rogers has closed the chequebook but it’s starting to feel more and more like AA was given a budget and has reached that budget.

      I guess we’ll see within the next few weeks.

      • My point is more that given the size of their market (the entire country), they are potentially in a position to do better than the 10th highest payroll. Given the explosion of TV rights costs and the size of the Jays’ TV market, Rogers might be making a killing off of the Jays. i don’t think we can compare American TV deals to Canadian ones and I honestly don’t know even where to start.

        I don’t know the details of the Canadian TV advertising market or the inner workings of the Rogers’ budget, but it’s not impossible to conceive that the Jays might be getting a slightly bum deal in terms of TV dollars.

        It was more a comment on the state of the budget than a desire to pick up a second baseman.

        • I don’t think we can just say that the entire country is the Jays’ market. However I’ll concede that the Jays do have a very large market and should have the ability to spend more. But we don’t even need to base it on markets. Rogers is the richest owner in the whole league. There have been many debates and write ups regarding how they recognize revenue from Sportsnet as a result of owning the Jays and I’m not smart enough to boil that down to a couple sentences, but it just seems like a budget has been set for AA and that budget has been reached.

          If that budget contains the 10th highest payroll in the league, you can’t place the blame entirely on Rogers. That’s all I’m saying here.

        • There was a commenter here,in a previous post, who broke down the financial side of the TV revenue.The guy knew his shit and the numbers were easily confirmed.
          Basically comparing the viewership numbers and the descrepancy between the US and Candian advertising rates.Even with the difference in rates, Rogers theorticaly makes a shitload.
          That doesn’t even include the addtional revenue streams and content,beyond the games themselves, the Jays generate

          • Man I would love to see that breakdown.

            • http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/01/07/mlbs-billion-dollar-tv-deals-free-agency-and-why-robinson-canos-deal-with-the-mariners-isnt-crazy/

              Didn’t mention the Jays, but what would a bidding war between Rogers and Bell for national TV rights for the Jays get when the Padres got a deal for $1.2 billion over 30 years for local tv rights?

              Rogers makes money hand over fist with the TV deal because they can designate whatever $$ amount – it’s just shuffling $$ between different arms of the company anyways – and advertise all its products, all its sponsors, etc. on the only game in town in the summer. The difference between what Rogers would have to pay for rights in a bidding war vs. what the accountants decide would make a huge difference, and that’s what’s so frustrating about the calls of “well we can’t take any more $$” (at least to me, that is). Live events, especially sports, are the new TV cash cow so of course being owned by a telecommunications company leaves the Jays at a disadvantage, Just spitballing here without any actual figures, but there’s a couple thoughts,

      • Yes. Yes it is Rogers’ fault. Because no decisions are made in a vacuum, the ’12/’13 trades included. This was a known variable at the time; no amount of ignorance explains the cash shortfall. The numbers have changed since that date, and the numbers are awfully shortsighted. This lies on Rogers, and no one else.

        • Yeah, I guess the frustrating thing is that it’s Roger’s strategy that led them to forego the free agent market and go after trades. You can’t build your team through trades and then be upset because you don’t have any cheap, young depth. It’s particularly insane because it isn’t like the Reyes and Buehrle contracts are particularly cheap. They horribly backloaded and represent the premium the Marlins paid to get them (and get them without trade protection). It’s like Rogers only felt comfortable taking those contracts because they were via trade; had AA simply tried to sign those guys on the free agency market, no way. Obviously, other factors, like JJ, were part of the decision, but one wonders whether the trade market is really a great acquisition tool if the budget is going to sit where its at.

  14. Fat Juan is 100% pumpkin. I would rather have Goins on the team for fucks sake…. GOINS!

    • That being the only thing I have to go on, I’d assume that you’re dumb, because Ryan Goins is terrible.

      • I was trying to say something along these lines, but decided ide come off as a huge ass and decided to pass….

      • ^ Yep

      • Fat Juan since June 1st: .188/.240./.396 with a wRC+ 70. Plus no speed, or defense.

        • And a 48% K rate.

          • While I disagree, I’m only joking about thinking that someone is dumb based on a preference between mediocre baseball players, so I’m sorry if that came of as harsh or made me look like a dick. I sometimes forget that you can’t convey a joking tone through nothing but text.

            That said, you can’t just throw out what Francisco did in April and May like he’s not the same player. He’s obviously not someone you want to see play every day, but just because he’s struggled more recently than he’s thrived doesn’t mean that he’ll only ever struggle from here on out, just like him starting the season well didn’t mean that he wasn’t going to struggle ever again.

            The thing with Goins is that he’s terrible. It’s more likely that Francisco allows the Jays to catch lightning in a bottle because he’s capable of having a two or three week stretch where he tears the cover off the ball. A good stretch for Goins is a bunch of ground balls that find holes, and bloop singles. We also can’t assume that he’ll be as good a defender at third base as he is at second base, and his defense absolutely can’t get even a little bit worse without him being below replacement level.

        • Goins WR+ was 12….. TWELVE!
          and he’s never stolen a base in the majors.

  15. The Lawrie(OPS+ 95)/Franny(119)/Tolley(99) thing is a lot better than people give it credit.

    Who has an OPS+ of 110 on the trade market at 2B or 3B and what is the cost? It’s not just money. Maybe there isn’t a deal to be made.

    Or maybe you wanted Dan Uggla who hasn’t had an OPS+ above 100 since 2010 and is right now sitting at 33. Fucking Ugglia!

  16. For what its worth, Kawaski and Tolleson have put up 0.4 and 0.7 rWAR so far this season. At least that’s an improvement on 2Bmen from last season.

    • They each have 0.3 fWAR, which combined still puts them in the lower section of the league.

      Also, Robinson Cano is awesome.

  17. Sergio DFA’d.

  18. Look who’s back from vacation! Did you miss me beaches??

    3 weeks away, what did I miss? OK who the fuck is Nolan Reimold? Mastroinanni has been playing? Tolleson? Dan Johnson ? Gose? Jesus no wonder the Jays aren’t winning, with this group of fucking bums. Once this team gets healthy, watch the fuck out!

    Is it sad the only player potentially “off the books” next year I think the Jays should keep in Melky Cabrera? Maybe Janssen?

    Scratch out some wins until the cavalry comes back fellas, we can do this.

  19. Yes players – come to Toronto….

    Play on our concrete, tear up your knees, and when we get close to competing , you can defer some of your salary and we might bring in someone (if it don’t cost much)

  20. Santos designated must mean no trade available for the guy. Too bad.

    Rogers should bump salary for a rental player. Shite, playoff runs are built on these transactions. Rios and Headley are good examples; maybe they provide some insurance and offense while not blowing the farm on help.

  21. Aside from the ‘whose to blame’ debate for our suspected payroll debacle, the likely lack of financial flexibility makes AA’s best course of action all the more unclear. I can’t imagine any trade for an impact player without at least one of Sanchez/Norris/Stroman (especially if we’re not taking on significant $), which limits our options for bullpen and starting depth this year (Sanchez/Norris) and further thins the farm that is slowly rebounding from the Marlins/Dickey deals. And Santos just got DFA’d with Rasmussen replacing him…

    Adding to the uncertainty is the sheer volatility of our play over the last 1.5 months, and uncertainty about timelines and performance of the injured guys. And who knows if any of the trades we’ve been hearing about – Headley, Prado, Hill, etc. – even move the needle for us. With so many teams still in it, the increasing cost of doing business often doesn’t buy you enough certainty to justify the cost, yet when have we been closer? Look at what the Angles just gave up for Street. Sure, there’s always risk in any move, and I would hate to stand pat simply due to budget constraints or prospect porn, and if there’s a team willing to trade an impact guy for a boatload of A ball prospects great, but the forces at play right now make AA’s job especially difficult.

  22. Just wondering what the haul would be if the Jays management decided to trade all of EE, Bautista, Melky, Rasmus, Lind, Buehrle, Reyes and Janssen? Of course some money would have to be eaten on a few guys, but considering the sell off it could be easily afforded.

    Is it enough to have an exciting young team in a couple years to go along with Stoman, Hutch, Norris, Sanchez, Lawrie plus enough money freed up to sign a couple better free agents?

    • How often in the types of trades a lot of those guys would be moved in do teams get back even one piece that ends up being near as good as the talent that they gave up?

      I’d guess that it’s not often.

      Update: Some real dogs: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/19692036/top-15-july-trade-deadline-blockbusters-in-mlb-history

      • I absolutely agree that a shit tonne of risk is involved in trading for unestablished players, but what I find interesting about this idea and the Jays situation is the following…

        A) There is a decent stable of SP candidates coming thru the pipe line Stroman, Hutchinson, Norris, Sanchez, even Hoffman and Osuna if given a 2 year timeline. Simply put, arguably the most integral and certainly sought after part of the game, Starting pitching, has a decent stable of candidates. No locks of course, but a heck of a lot of warm bodies with strong potential. At least a couple of these guys have got to stick.

        B) The fucking sweetheart deals that EE and Bautista are signed to. This shit is like crack to GM’s, there could be some really tasty returns here for each player.

        C) The fact that the Jays could afford to take on money (because the would now be in Marlins payroll territory) that turns both Buehrle and Reyes to let’s say 9 million dollar players for the other team. This is possible because the decks are being swapped of all other big salaries. These guys become much more attractive at that price.

        D)Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder for Melky, Rasmus, Lind, and Janssen, the fact is there is 4 of them, some deal is bound to work out.

        E) Despite the sell off, the Jays at worst are a 90 million payroll club, the would likely have upwards of 40 to 50 mil to spend on FA’s, either to keep or flip once the kids (much of the team) get it together.

        It’s bold and full of risk, but I think they could perhaps do much worst if fate is unkind this year and next.

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