Archive for the ‘Payroll Parameters’ Category

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays

You might not agree with the way that he got himself tossed in a crucial game Sunday against the Rays, or his continued insistence that it was an unjust ejection (though Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has a piece that sure makes it seem like he’s right). You may not have liked the way he essentially threw teammates at the bottom of the roster under the bus when he griped about the fact that the Blue Jays were unable to make any moves at the July 31st trade deadline, while teams around them in the race did what they could to make additions. Perhaps you think that all of this stuff — rather than an athlete daring to actually answer questions honestly and not through his P.R. training — should be kept behind closed doors — that Jose Bautista should just shut up and play.

But you can’t deny that the Jays slugger speaks for a lot of people when he vents his frustrations the way he has lately, and I suspect that we got a little closer to the nut of what this is all about in a quote from him today, as passed along by the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin:

OK, so maybe the comment isn’t entirely devoid of the P.R. filter, but his non-denial denial about thinking this way really tells us all we need. And as conflicted as we might be about the fact that he’s saying it, the fact that Bautista is the club’s best player, most marketable player, and a player with a immensely team-friendly contract, means that he can engage in this kind of talk and not have to worry about the consequences. He’s too valuable to the club and the company, and he knows it.

Or maybe he’s simply at the point where he doesn’t care if saying such things brings down petty consequences from an ownership dumbly willing to cut off its nose to spite its face, but I suspect there’s a deeper frustration at work as he says the things that Alex Anthopoulos, Paul Beeston, and essentially no other member of the organization (save the much quieter Edwin Encarnacion) can say for themselves without fear of burning bridges. Some fans and media will get bent out of shape about Jose being a prima donna and regurgitate a bunch of hockey jargon about leadership and whatever else the can find to spin a narrative that paints him in the light they want to paint him in, but I love it. At least somebody is saying it.

Rogers, of course, isn’t the only problem with this organization or the only reason they were left paralysed at the trade deadline. We all know that in the past two years Alex Anthopoulos has traded away many of the better chips not found on his club’s big league roster — crucial pieces when it comes making deadline moves, unless a club is able to take on lots of money without concern about it hampering them in the future *COUGH* — but that really only just exacerbated a problem that goes back as far as J.P Ricciardi’s terrible drafting. Ricciardi’s failures left the Jays upper minors bereft of talent, and AA’s immediate switch to focus on far-away high school players with big upsides has yet to close the gap.

If the aim was to build a pipeline and take the extreme long view, that all made sense, but somewhere along the line Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion got great, Rogers agreed to put up a tonne of money, and the equation for Anthopoulos changed. But then, almost as quickly as it had begun, the money stopped flowing and the Jays found themselves in a position where they could neither fill in gaps with cash, nor could they trade a Nicolino because they still had a Syndergaard and Sanchez, and then trade a Syndergaard because they still had a Stroman and Hutchison.

The young talent that was wanted by other clubs was needed by this one, not only for this year, but — and this is where Rogers really comes into it — because they are under team control for so long, and so cheaply, and the front office seems rightly terrified of giving away such valuable pieces when it has been so clearly demonstrated to them that “Can we please have just a little bit more investment here, just to make entirely certain that the whole thing doesn’t go down the tubes?” is an unreasonable question to ask.

Anthopoulos appears to have been left to his own devices this season — he’s been given a budget, and the Ervin Santana mess suggests that the onus was on him to get creative if he wanted to add salary (i.e. increases to payroll were non-negotiable) and that’s certainly how he’s operated throughout the year. I’d suggest that the shift seems odd from a GM who spoke so often in his first few years about preserving his flexibility, but it doesn’t seem odd at all when you look who resides upstairs.

Maybe Anthopoulos went wide-eyed into the dramatic payroll increase of November and Decemeber 2012 and thought the deals in front of him were too good to pass up, even if it meant destroying what was left of his flexibility both monetarily and with respect to his ability to make trades (though the latter might be a stretch, given that with Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and the then-hope for a bounceback from Ricky Romero, he may simply have been overconfident in his starting depth). But it isn’t outlandish at all to think the other thing: that Rogers tied the hands of its own organization in a cynical attempt to save as many pennies as could be saved once it became clear that the much ballyhooed roster Anthopoulos had bought for himself wasn’t working out.

That doesn’t sound like an organization dedicated to winning to me, but is that really the way that it is?

I don’t have enough information to answer that question. Neither does Jose. And so why the fuck shouldn’t he say it?

I’ve always been quick to roll my eyes at Jays fans who get so unabashedly steamed at the possibility that someone running a huge brand and television property operated by a major arm of a multi-billion-dollar company, with a payroll over $100-million, might not always be entirely truthful, or that figures who have so often demonstrated themselves to be, above all else, company men, might be massaging the message to spin things in a positive light for their employers, and for the viability of their product at the turnstile and as compelling content on the TV network owned by the parent company.

People want to hold Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, and their ilk to a higher standard, I think, because what they represent is, to a lot of us, more than just a brand or a product or content. It’s not a soft drink or a car or something that can be distilled into some shallow pitch-line, it’s the passion that unites us — *Ehrm* — except… well… it really is a whole lot like those things when you get right down to it, and guys like Beeston and Anthopoulos really are just middle-managers, doing what’s right for the company and the bottom line when it comes to the P.R. aspects of their jobs.

We understand that. It’s OK.

Or, it is to me, at least.

The club is going to do what it’s going to do, regardless of what they say or what we think. The injured players are going to be healthy when they’re healthy. What we’re told about it, to me, matters not one iota, and those who get themselves all worked up about it are kinda hilarious. If it gives the club some any kind of competitive advantage, even better.

I’d even go as far as to say that’s all true except when that competitive advantage is gained in the form of budget increases procured by selling false hope to fans, but at this point that’s a losing proposition anyway, isn’t it?

Like, at this point does anybody even bother trying to believe Paul Beeston when he goes on the Fan 590, as he did this morning with Brady and Walker (audio here), and shovels us the same platitudes about the club’s finances?

I’ll set the record straight,” he tells us, “because we’ve never gone to Rogers for money and asked them for anything that we haven’t got. They’ve been very, very generous with us. They took our salaries up from $90-million to $125-million, then they’re up this year. They will be up next year, there’s no question about that. They’ve been very supportive. And so, when we lose, all of the sudden it’s because of finances — it’s because of money — and that’s really not fair to Rogers. That’s because of decisions we’ve made, or because of injuries, or because of the way we’ve played. It’s nothing to do with the financial part of it. And when we get into this, when I hear last week that we didn’t make decisions because we didn’t have the money and there was a hockey contract, it’s just flat out wrong. It’s patently false. We’ve got what we need to do, and if there wasn’t a trade that was made it was made because Alex and the baseball people didn’t think that they wanted to part with the players that they could get back for who they could get. It had nothing to do with finances.

Aren’t the words so transparent that they don’t even register? Don’t we all see through the well-worn line about Rogers never saying no when they’ve asked? Don’t we all fully understand that the reality is that they know enough not to ask?

Do we bother getting our hopes up when he says the big league payroll “will be up next year, there’s no question about that”? When earlier he said that Melky Cabrera is “a player you just want to have,” and that he and Colby Rasmus “are two players that are critical for the future”?

Would it matter?

We know how a team that has money would operate — we see it even with us in the standings in the form of the New York Yankees. A team with money to spare, as full of warts as a Martin Prado or a Chase Headley or a Brandon McCarthy might be, doesn’t let the team chasing them load up with potential upgrades that cost nothing in terms of the game’s most valuable commodity: talent. A team with money to spare doesn’t balk at a Prado out of fear of blowing their opportunity to re-sign Cabrera. There are plenty of legitimate baseball reasons to have not made stronger plays for those guys, but that’s not what a team making decisions that have “nothing to do with finances” does.

Does it matter whether Alex Anthopoulos is lying or not when he says, as he did this afternoon (as per a piece from John Lott of the National Post), that even though Adam Lind wasn’t scheduled to play a rehab game today for the GCL Jays because of tightness in his back — a wonky back that, according to Baseball Prospectus, kept him out 24 games in 2011, 29 in 2012, five in 2013, and 20 more earlier this season — the club’s decision-makers “don’t think it’s much of anything”?

Does it matter that it’s reasonable enough that he says they felt, “why even push it?” 

Does anything that we do or think change the timetable? Do these guys even bother to blush anymore when some of the things they’ve said in the past are thrown back at them? Or does the media understand so well how their hands are being tied from above that they don’t even bother to push it to hard — to grind them down and get to the truth?

Would it matter if, more often, they just said the truth we already know? Would it change anything?

I’m honestly asking!

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.

pillarsuperman

Just because.

Shi Davidi posted a piece at Sportsnet on Wednesday night, in the afterglow of what was certainly the most unlikely of the nine straight wins of the Jays’ recent streak, that in many ways focused the cold, hard light of reality on the club’s current situation. Though ostensibly about Brandon Morrow’s recovery from a torn tendon sheath in his index finger, and the huge boost a healthy Morrow (who dealt with soreness in the area of the finger, we’re told, for three weeks before the injury occurred) could give this team, the piece also touched on the viability of Liam Hendriks — who, you may have noticed, needed every damn inch of the Rogers Centre to get away with his impressive two-run, three-hit, zero-walk, five-strikeout line yesterday — as well as the viability of any Jays plans to take on salary via the trade market, and even their draft budget.

That last bit was the really eye-popping one, buried as it was, as Davidi told us that, right now, “money is so tight the Blue Jays won’t even have their usual war chest for next week’s draft.” That is, of course, unless “the Blue Jays continue to play well, remain atop the American League East, attendance rises and the TV ratings spike further.”

The doubting ultra-cynic could maybe see a not-so-subtle message in there from the masters of the club, but it’s certainly just as easy to take it at face value, too. “Cheap-jack shit-fuck Rogers” is an easy narrative for a good reason. There’s something to it. As Shi puts it earlier in the piece, “if the money wasn’t there” when the club need players to make deferrals in order to sign Ervin Santana, “there’s no reason to think it will be there in July with the Blue Jays already at their 2014 budget of roughly $135 million.”

Except… isn’t there? Shouldn’t there be?

Would Rogers be so unresponsive to even the business case that surely could be made for turning a small payroll add into a better-assured ratings and attendance bonanza that ultimately means the initial investment easily pays for itself?

Looking at the way the club operated this winter one might be inclined to quickly say yes. But before we throw our hands up and resign ourselves to being governed by the pathological corporate hive mind of Rogers, let’s remember that a lot may have changed by the time of the trade deadline. The Jays will have a much better sense of their playoff chances — i.e. whether or not an investment would be a waste or not. They will have the advantage of needing a much smaller payroll commitment to add a piece then than they would have over the winter, with two-thirds of the season being in the books by the time of the July 31st trade deadline, and therefore two-thirds of the players’ salary off the books. And, as Davidi reminds us cynics, a strong showing in terms of ratings and attendance could absolutely still change things.

Yet here we’re being told that “general manager Alex Anthopoulos may be forced to seek trades that are revenue neutral – foisting Ricky Romero on someone for a prospect as part of a bigger deal might be one way to do it – in order to make a substantial addition.”

Weird, huh? Somewhat absurd, too (someone’s really taking Romero and enough of his salary to make such a move not entirely pointless?). But mostly weird. And even weirder still is this suggestion that the club may not even have their “usual war chest” for the draft.

Honestly, though, I’m not even sure what that means. They don’t exactly need a “war chest” for next week, because the deadline to get draft picks signed isn’t until mid-July– though, ideally, they’d want to have some idea of their upper spending limit, if it was going to be imposed artificially by ownership. More importantly, the war chest idea seems like a relic of the old collective bargaining agreement. There have been two drafts so far under the November 2011 CBA, and only once has any team in baseball been more than $600K either above or below their bonus pool allotment. In 2013, according to Baseball America, the Astros ended up spending $877K less than their league-high bonus pool of $11.7-million. That year the Jays, mostly because of their inability to use above-slot money earmarked for Phil Bickford, spent $424K less than their final pool allotment total that year. The year before the Jays spent $441K over.

In other words, teams of late don’t really seem to actually have a war chest, like in the old days. They have a ballpark figure that’s already budgeted for based on the pool allotment that has long been known. And the Jays’ failure to sign Bickford last summer makes it even harder to figure what their “usual” war chest even is. In 2012 they spent $9.2-million; in 2013 they spent $3.05-million.

Obviously that doesn’t mean that the club couldn’t try to pull off some weird outlier bullshit and ignore the bonus pools altogether, under-drafting like those teams who dumbly tied themselves to slot recommendations under the previous CBA, I guess. But… really? It’s a sad testament on Rogers’ stewardship of the Jays that we think it’s even possible the club might actually sink a whole draft (or at least a significant part of it… or any part of it, really). After all, it’s the once-a-year player-acquisition apparatus Alex Anthopoulos sold as being absolutely integral to the club, and much of the reason they invested so much in scouting infrastructure early in his tenure (and continue to do so). It’s simply bizarre to think that they could genuinely be less than serious on this because either no one at the head office gives enough of a shit about the club to be sympathetic (even to the best of business cases) about adding budget, or because the front office was unwilling to take a hit in terms of on-field talent in order to find more wiggle room under that “2014 budget of roughly $135 million” to avoid laughable, brand-damaging decimation of their future. But… do we really? Do we seriously think that’s an actual, possible outcome?

The fact that I wrote this same kind of “come on, guys, there’s no fucking way” shit at the start of this winter about the payroll in general, only to see it frozen solid in defiance of my highest hopes — at least until those deferral agreements from the players — plants a big ol’ seed of doubt underneath the scoffing at the impossibility of the club doing something completely fucked up and backwards that I’m doing here. I mean, Rogers could grandstand on this. They could say that they simply set the team’s budget and that it was the front office who didn’t do enough to clear room for the entirety of the bonus pool “war chest” to fit within it. Shit, the front office might even have a defensible position on that, given their job status, having chosen to spend on the win-now big league roster and deal with a less-than-ideally-robust draft budget later on.

But… really?

In our worst fears taken from those little words our heads are sent spinning with thoughts of unprecedented, powerfully detrimental, utterly shameful cheapness. And again, it’s not like it isn’t easy to assume the worst about Rogers — though, to be fair, this year’s Jays’ payroll is higher than that of Arizona, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Colorado, Seattle, Kansas City, Chicago (AL), San Diego, the Mets, the Cubs, Minnesota, Oakland, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Miami, and Houston — and if the club really did such a thing they’d get all the vitriol from this corner that such an action would deserve. But… really??? We’re just going to go ahead and assume that this is a foregone conclusion and an unequivocal affront and start shaking with terror at the possibility, and the possibility that the team’s insistence on revenue-neutral trades will undermine their ability to actually add anything of value at the deadline (hence, perhaps, the building of the narrative that Morrow — and his sudden professed affinity for not trying to “do too much” — can be a real impact mid-summer add) and killing off what right now looks like it could turn into a really, really special season? Because we assume they’re totally just not posturing now, figuring there are better negotiating tactics than openly admitting they’re looking to spend like drunken sailors?

I sure as hell hope not. I mean, I get the underlying worry, for sure, but let’s maybe wait until we actually have some tangible evidence of what’s any of these things Davidi says may become issues before we go nuts, eh? Yes, I’ve been burned on this phrase before, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Until I do, there are far better things to dwell on. For example: DID YOU SEE THAT FUCKING GAME LAST NIGHT!??!!?!!

 

Screengrab via @DesaiDevang.

gammons

Don’t be dissuaded by the title — some nonsense about the “Anti-Analytic Buehrle” — and check out the chat that Alex Anthopoulos had the other day with Peter Gammons… Peter Gammons… Peter Gammons… Peter Gammons… Gaaaaaaaa-mmons, Gaaaaaaa-mmons, Gaaaaaaa-mons (etc.). It’s up and burying the shit out of the lede over at Gammons Daily.

In it, somewhere near the bottom after a look at how the Jays have brought us to this heartening moment in the season, Alex Anthopoulos divulges like he does for no other — or at least no local reporter — explaining his thoughts on the forming trade market, and what he thinks makes the most sense for his club to do as they look to make reinforcements for a stretch run.

We are pretty much maxed out in terms of payroll,” he explains, “but more important, we cannot keep trading our young pitchers. We also have to be realistic about whom we can extend if we make a trade for him.”

The payroll stuff… well… obviously. It’s dumb, of course, but this is a club that had players ready to defer money in order to try to add Ervin Santana this spring before all of that fell apart. Sure, there have been rumours — or at least open wonderings — that the restrictions on payroll may loosen should a situation exactly like the one the club now finds itself in arise (especially if the TV and attendance numbers strongly rise). So, it’s possible that, like the acknowledgement that they don’t want to inflict another blow on their farm system, this may simply be posturing. It’s just, given what happened this winter, that’s a hard one to swallow.

Worse still, this make one wonder if the club might even be inclined to wait until the last possible moment to make a deal, rather than taking an extra 1/6th of a player’s salary by adding him in June instead of July. Maybe — hopefully? — they wouldn’t need to count their nickels and dimes so carefully, but this is the Jays we’re talking about. This is Rogers.

At least we’re not talking about being sellers, though, right???

In his next paragraph, Gammons zeroes in on the part about extensions:

The Blue Jays know that neither Price nor Samardzija will sign an extension with Toronto before hitting the free agent market at the end of the 2015 season. “We have been feeling out teams and doing background work,” Anthopoulos says. “I think we’d probably look at something where we have a pitcher for the rest of this season. That makes sense.”

I’m not sure it’s necessarily a foregone conclusion that neither Price nor Samardzija would extend here — it all depends on the price — but more importantly, so… we’re looking at a rental? I can live with that. It means a significantly lower cost, in terms of prospects, and leaves the club’s rotation options open for 2015. “Options open” is certainly the positive way to spin it, and I get going after a long-term piece, but there’s no need to try to force a move for a guy who fits every single one of the club’s needs. A rental sounds fine, and Gammons lists Justin Masterson, Francisco Liriano, and Jason Hammels as possibilities. Can we throw ol’ Pete Puma’s name into the mix there as well? Yes, I think we can.

That is, if we really think we can take Anthopoulos seriously on any of this. Which, of course, we kind of can’t.

 

Image, of course, via.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.