Archive for the ‘Payroll Parameters’ Category

rogerscentre

In a twist that makes me think again about the possibility of the front office using the media as an instrument to exert pressure on Robbers Communications, Alex Anthopoulos was on Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 on Friday, preceding his club’s home opener against the New York Yankees, and like Paul Beeston earlier in the day he confirmed the payment deferral scheme first reported by Ken Rosenthal last Thursday at Fox Sports, and — most intriguingly — was coy when it came to the question of who initiated it.

In response to Stephen Brunt broaching subject, the GM explained:

“How the money would have been allocated — how that would have been done — regardless, if something like that was to happen or not, that wouldn’t have been hidden. So, if anybody restructures their contract or defers money — like you talk about, Stephen — the union would have to sign off on that. That’s made available to everybody, no one would have been hiding anything at all. And there’s things we may choose to do, from a payroll standpoint, from a contractual structure standpoint, that might make more sense for us. But irrespective of the fact, we had the ability to sign him, this is where he told us he wanted to be, and we were prepared to go forward with it.

What the fallout from that is, or this story, I know where a lot of people want to go with it, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we have the dollars to sign the player. Again, how that money was going to be allocated, how it was going to be done, those are things I would keep to myself.

What gets me here, and should get every Jays fan, is the fact that the door was wide open for Anthopoulos to say that this was solely a player-initiated thing, that it wasn’t necessary, that ownership is great, that the dollars were there, and that everything is peachy between the Jays and the corporate monolith that controls their cash flow and owns the network that clutches the no-bid contract for their TV rights that is astonishingly valuable in this era of live event programming being the only thing of any worth in TV, and other clubs auctioning off their own rights for multiple billions — much like the NHL rights deal Rogers itself recently signed. Yet he unequivocally doesn’t.

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beestonStCatharines

Oh lord. Here’s what I’m sure is exactly the way the Jays were hoping to spend a love-in of a day with baseball returning to the city for a new year, full of new hopes and a small sense of optimism pulled out of the fire thanks to a Drew Hutchison, Mark Buehrle, and the people of Montreal: Payroll Parameters!

But, of course, thanks to last night’s report at Fox Sports from Ken Rosenthal, it’s no longer avoidable, and Paul Beeston sure didn’t do much to stop the story’s momentum when he joined the excellent Matt Galloway on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning earlier today.

You can hear the full audio here, and it’s worth a listen, as he rambles into bizarre territory about the necessity of building the farm system and having young, controllable, cheap talent on the roster (sort of like the kind that the Jays traded away last year in what we now see as a feeble and suddenly-unsustainable push to become competitive), and also addresses the craft beer situation in purely myopic, short-term, capitalist terms, after first trying to make the suggestion that Labatt and Budweiser (majority owned by Belgian-Brazilian multinational Anheuser Busch-InBev) should count as locally brewed. But it was the budget stuff and the deferral scheme that provided the money quotes.

“There was discussion about that, Matt,” he said when asked about the deferral report. “And to be very honest with you, I think if it had gone that way it would have been fine.”

Let’s not mince words: that Beeston was aware of this is insane. That it went to his level, and that he didn’t say “I’ve heard of that report but I can’t speak to it, I know nothing about it,” bends the mind just a little bit. Or at least brings up thoughts of Alex Anthopoulos in his office, smacking himself in the forehead as he listens. And that he didn’t bother to clarify whether the suggestion came from the club or the players? Just… wow.

It also maybe plays into the speculation I was indulging in the previous post about the front office perhaps wanting this sort of thing to get out there, but realistically, they’ve got six months of the season left to do a thing like that, and I’m preeeety sure this isn’t what anybody down there wants to be talking about on a day like today. Unfortunately for them, though, Beeston — who, I must concede, may be more shrewd in all this than I’m about to give him credit for — continued.

“Well, we’re a business!” he exclaimed when asked if the club’s budget has been capped. “We’re a business. So the answer to that is we have a budget. So the answer is it’s not ‘capped,’ because we can increase our revenue, we can increase our expenses, but we run it as a business, Matt.”

It was at that point that Galloway asked him what that means for the club as a business when other teams have continued building and the Jays have already spent their money last year — a point which Beeston tacitly conceded, before diving into an explanation about building through other means, such as trades and the draft. Beeston then slipped in a statement about money not being a problem, before talking about building a system with guys like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez (and evidently not Noah Syndergaard, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, etc.), who are the kinds of players, we’re told, that you need to integrate into your organization. “You need a mixture of the players who are at the minimum together with the ones that are your stars,” he lectures.

So, in essence, we’re back to square one with this crew. Also: stars and scrubs, everyone! Always works!

Ugh. And it’s just… you get the sense that in a different era, before the internet — which he doesn’t use — exploded and the fans learned all the minutiae about this club that they could stuff into their brains, maybe Beeston would be able to get away with this kind of stuff and not come off like a hopeless bullshit-fanning old hack. It’s like the difference between Rob Ford speaking to people who are even just mildly interested in the details of whatever paint-by-numbers talking point garbage he’s trying to slam his way through on, and him speaking to people who are still swept up by all the hollow narratives and reductive populism.

Beeston could be the mayor of the Jays equivalent of Ford Nation, in other words, but when people are actually paying attention to what he says and does, it gets kinda tricky.

tedstatue2

In a move that ought to be unfathomable — but, of course, is entirely fathomable because of the company we’re ultimately talking about here — in Ken Rosenthal’s latest for Fox Sports, he tells us that last month Blue Jays players offered to restructure their contracts in order to help the team free up the payroll necessary to get Ervin Santana’s name on a deal, and his arm into the club’s rotation.

It was as if the Toronto Blue Jays passed around a hat, trying to collect enough money to sign free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana.

Several Jays players discussed deferring portions of their salaries to clear payroll for Santana last month, according to major league sources.

Apparently the talks didn’t get past the conversation stage — Rosenthal spoke to an agent who explained that even if they did, they wouldn’t likely have been able to get the scheme past the union — but that’s not really the point, nor is that whole bit even the damn kicker here. We’re also told that “it is not clear whether the impetus for the talks about deferring money came from the players or from the Jays’ front office. The players, however, likely would not have engaged in such discussions unless they believed the team was unable or unwilling to pay Santana $14 million.”

Um… what?

There’s a chance that management may have come to the players with this?

There… really can’t be, though, right? Not really.

I mean, sure, there’s a chance of anything, but this is just Rosenthal covering his bases and making as clear as possible what the information he has is, even though it almost certainly must have been a suggestion coming from players desperate to see the team sign their friend, make good on their commitment to actually try to be a competitive baseball team, and add to a rotation in desperate need. Right???

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ubaldoblue

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t whispers out there that the Jays may, in actuality and not just in posture, be more inclined to simply go with the rotation options they’ve got and hide behind nonsense about value — as though the deals Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana sign aren’t going to be chock full of value thanks to the way that the compensation picks tied to them have depressed their markets, which, of course, was the whole point of chasing them in the first place. I’ve also heard the opposite, though, so I’m not sure what exactly to make of anything at this point.

A lot of fans urging the club to do something tend to fail to look at things from the agents’ perspective. Anthopoulos must act, they say, because surely other teams will run into injuries that will make them reconsider the asking price on still-available arms, but isn’t that exactly the reason for the agents to continue to hold firm on their number, and not settle on terms dictated by the Blue Jays? I think so, which is why I don’t count myself among those fans. But it’s hard not to let some ugly thoughts creep in about it when you see a thing like what Jon Heyman wrote this morning at CBS Sports.

One person familiar with [the Blue Jays'] thinking suggested there was at least some talk at the beginning of the winter about looking to spend $8 million to $9 million a year on a 2- or 3-year deal on one or more of the available starters. Even taking the higher numbers, say $9 million per annum for three years, that would seem to be a stretch to the low side to lure someone such as Santana or Jimenez.

That sure would seem like a stretch, though bless ‘em for trying, I guess. But how, after acknowledging openly for so long that they need a front line starter, could that have possibly been the plan at any point?

Is Heyman’s source wrong? Is Heyman’s old pal Scott Boras telling him this just to be a fly in Paul Beeston’s ointment? Did something change? Was it Guy Laurence? The Canadian dollar? Was the two-year, $20-million deal the Mets signed with Bartolo Colon too rich for the Jays’ blood???

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anthopoulos2013WM

“At this point in the off-season, perhaps it’s time to look at the possibility that the Toronto Blue Jays standing relatively pat is more than just negotiation posturing by Alex Anthopoulos,” opens Shi Davidi’s latest from Sportsnet.

Time to look at the possibility? Sure. Time to believe it, though? I just can’t see how that’s possible. Especially with the one place in the one positional market that he needs to be in on still completely unresolved. The high-end starting pitchers still remain.

Now, if you told me he was ready to take a pass on the trade market, that I’d believe. I mean, if Anthopoulos actually feels he has the latitude to do so, it can be certainly argued that future will be better off with him not blowing his brains out for a guy like Jeff Samardzija. And how much worse will 2014 be, really?

Sure, they’d be better off with two years of Samardzija instead of keeping J.A. Happ in the rotation, or rushing Drew Hutchison back from injury, or Marcus Stroman to the big leagues too soon. But there is already so much uncertainty hanging over this roster that it’s hard to view a Samardzija– who Davidi reminds us the Cubs are still insisting on Stroman and Sanchez for– as the sort of one-guy-to-put-us-over-the-top acquisition that the Jays felt justified the similarly-astronomical cost of R.A. Dickey over a year ago.

The temptation must be there to double down on what they did last winter, but the cost goes beyond the just the precious upper-end talent they’d be further depleting their system of. And thinking about the true cost of moving a package like that is kind of what makes it, to me, doubly weird that the anyone thinks with any kind of certainty that the Jays aren’t going to take a big run at one of the remaining free agent starters.

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07-BigAnthopoulos

Where’s the money, Anthopoulos?

On Prime Time Sports last night, during the segment with Shi Davidi that I noted in last night’s GM Meetings After Dark post, Bob McCown says that he’s heard from a source that he thinks is credible *COUGH* Paul Beeston *COUGH* that the Jays’ payroll for the 2014 season will be $150-million, echoing a number that I’ve heard from David himself and a number of others as well– including Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, whose report I commented on yesterday.

It’s an impressive number when you remember that the club’s payroll was just $83-million in 2012, and $70-million the year before. It’s not so much an impressive number, however, when you consider all the heavy lifting that Alex Anthopoulos is faced with this winter, and the fact that the club already has $120-million committed, plus more still to be accounted for: something on the order of $4- or $5-million for pre-arb players, and another $11.2-million in projected salary for arbitration eligible players Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Cecil, and Esmil Rogers.

The “true” figure, then, is more like $135-million, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for Anthopoulos to operate on a free agent market that has already seen the agent for Ervin Santana announce that his client is looking for a $100-million contract, while it’s believed that Ricky Nolasco is looking for $80-million. Crazy numbers, but probably not very far off from reality.

So what the hell can Anthopoulos do, then? Is he essentially stuck already? Not necessarily.

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