The Toronto Racist Money Hoarders

On June 28th, 2003, the Toronto Star printed a story on its front page that attempted to correlate a lack of ethnic diversity on the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster to racist practices in the front office, connoting that J.P. Ricciardi, the team’s general manager, had purposely sought out to acquire white baseball players.

A study by the Star has found that this year’s edition of the Blue Jays had the fewest number of visible minorities on the opening-day roster of any of the 30 major-league teams. A Toronto club that boasted of its diversity in recent radio ads actually had the visible-minority players on its 25-man roster drop from 11 on opening day a year ago to only six this season.

It was a ridiculous accusation that caused laughter at first and then amazement. Unfortunately for the Star, it wasn’t the type of amazement for which they were aiming. A general sense of shock was caused not only by such a story being published in the most circulated newspaper in Canada, but that it was printed as front page material in a Saturday edition.

I believe Eric McErlain of Off Wing had the best summarizing description when he called the article “an embarassing episode of political correctness masquerading as cutting social observation, mixed with a deep misunderstanding of some of the trends that are changing the way baseball teams are put together and the way the game is played.” McErlain wasn’t alone in his opinion. The reaction to the piece from the team, the players and the public was almost universally negative.

So much so, that the Star’s baseball columnist, Richard Griffin, who wasn’t even the author of the original story, ill-advisedly attempted to defend the piece by saying:

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi along with Oakland’s Billy Beane and other new-wavers believe in building offence through patience at the plate and taking no chances on the bases. That’s a pre-WWII style of play. Under those criteria, Jackie Robinson could not have played in the majors.

Yes, there you have it. Seeking high walk rates from players is synonymous with racism.

What Griffin didn’t mention or see happening, was that if anything was contributing to a lack of players from the Dominican Republic on the Toronto Blue Jays, it had far more to do with the old baseball adage, “You don’t walk off the island” than a racist general manager.

However, that’s a topic for another time. What I’d like to point out is that the author of the infamous White Jays story was the delightful Geoff Baker, who now writes for The Seattle Times. While his beat may have changed, the focus of his axe to grind hasn’t. Even on the other side of the continent, from time to time he’ll continue to exhale vitirol for the Toronto Blue Jays, or more specifically their front office and corporate ownership.

In a recent blog post on his newspaper’s website, Baker once again slags the franchise, asking his readers, largely Seattle Mariners fans, to:

Look at the Blue Jays. Not the for-public-consumption story of a little team trying to go up against the payroll giants of the AL East. No, I mean the real story of how baseball’s once top-spending team and two-time World Series champions degenerated into an afterthought on the baseball scene while its behemoth corporate owners consolidated a sports empire.

Instead of actually looking at this story, Baker continues from this paragraph with a nonsense fiction that disparages Rogers Communications, J.P. Ricciardi and the baseball fans in this city who hold a far more enlightened view of corporate ownership than the former Jays beat reporter.

He mentions how Toronto was the top spending team and two-time World Series champion at one time, but fails to show how they came to be such a franchise, likely because it doesn’t match his wavering narrative that reads more like sour grapes than valid points.

Aside: What on earth did J.P. Ricciardi do to the Toronto Star reporters when he became General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays?

The truth of the matter is that few baseball franchises have ever spent money based on its ownership’s income. It spends money based on its team’s revenue. Yes, there is something to be said for the presumably financially unrecognized television ratings and marketing opportunities that the Blue Jays provide Rogers, but TV viewership has only recently gone up, and may very well have more to do with the new method for measuring such things than a wide spread revival of interest in baseball. Meanwhile, attendance at games continues to dwindle, so for all the blaring of Rogers products between innings, it’s not exactly reaching the largest audience possible.

If we look back to 1985, the year the Toronto Blue Jays won their first American League East pennant, we find a team that ranks 18th out of 26 teams in payroll, and they had the fifth largest average attendance in the game that year. By 1989, the year that the SkyDome was built, the team had the highest attendance in the league and the seventh highest payroll. In 1990, the team again had the highest attendance in the league, but let their payroll slip to 13th in the league. The next year, the Blue Jays set an attendance record as the first team to seat over 4 million paying customers in a season, and yet their payroll slipped to 18th in the league of 26 yet again.

After three years of having the highest attendance in the league and a below average payroll, the Blue Jays, as a business entity took full advantage of their new, largely taxpayer built stadium, and used their profits to put together a roster that would cost more than any other’s in baseball for the 1992 season. They won the World Series. Ditto for 1993, although attendance did slip to number two overall with the expansion Colorado Rockies playing in a football stadium.

In 1994, the team’s payroll was barely surpassed by two teams, but the Blue Jays’ attendance continued to be strong. Then of course, the season was cut short by a labour dispute. In 1995, the team came back to have the highest payroll in baseball, but unfortunately they had a lousy year and combined with the ill will caused by the labour dispute, attendance slipped to fourth overall. And from there, the trend continued. While payroll began to lessen a little, the next five years saw attendance have a much sharper decline.

Rogers bought the team in 2000, and inspired by what Billy Beane had done with the Oakland A’s, hired J.P. Ricciardi, one of Beane’s lieutenants, to be the team’s general manager and find success on a limited budget.

Baker would have us believe that Ricciardi was hired instead of assistant GM at the time Dave Stewart because the former pitcher’s plan called for more money to be spent than the cheap ownership group was willing to put into the team. The truth of the matter is that Stewart’s plan wasn’t a whole lot different from former GM Gord Ash’s, which saw the team accumulate a losing record from 1995-2000 while still maintaining a top ten payroll in three of the six years Ash was in charge. A change in approach was necessary.

The limited budget part worked, but finding the same type of success that the A’s found in the American League West proved to be far more difficult in the American League East with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Nonetheless, it’s not as though the Blue Jays have been a waste of a franchise. Since 2000, Toronto has accumulated the eleventh most wins in baseball, in what is undoubtedly the toughest division in the game, smashing Baker’s assurances that:

[Ricciardi's] moves didn’t make the Blue Jays any better on the field.

They were much improved from the teams that Ash put together. And in fact, Baker’s exaggeration of the first three years of Ricciardi’s reign, is more of an indictment on the players left over from Ash’s tenure. The Blue Jays payroll was ranked the tenth highest in 2001 and the eleventh highest in 2002. The payroll cuts started to take effect in 2003, but that team had the second highest winning percentage of any Toronto squad since the 1993 World Series victory. The 2004 team was bad, but no team can be bad enough to force the sale of the stadium they play in as Baker would once again have us believe.

The goal was to gain control of the ballpark. The Chicago consortium that owned the SkyDome was losing money yearly in operating a venue where it did not control the tenant team. And the Blue Jays were losing out on huge revenue opportunities by having a team with no ballpark.

It was a matter of who would blink first. And in the meantime, the goal of Rogers was to trim annual deficits for the ballclub and keep the budget as balanced as possible until it gained control of the stadium. Rogers never actually said this out loud to baseball fans, who remained under the impression the final goal was to actually win something. No, the cost-cutting and money stockpiling and franchise value maintenance was sold as a cost-efficient way to win in baseball. The same virtues that attracted people to Moneyball and the Oakland A’s were exploited heavily in order to buy time for Rogers to gain a ballpark in Toronto.

Anyhow, in late 2004, bleeding money from all sides, the Chicago consortium that owned the ballpark finally caved and sold the SkyDome to Rogers for pennies on the dollar. A ballpark that cost taxpayers more than $300 million in the late 1980s was sold to Rogers for only $25 million. Initially, the consortium had wanted well over $100 million. But Rogers merely waited them out to get the bargain basement price, sacrificing a half-decade of Toronto baseball in the process (a fifth year was spent getting the stadium up to snuff before the team began signing free agents in earnest).

It’s a nice piece of conspiracy theory fiction that Baker has woven here, but not accurate in the least.

While still owned by the province, the stadium was horribly mismanaged. The majority of the 161 Skyboxes that the SkyDome held were leased out for ten years all at the same time. When those leases began to come up, interest in the baseball team was at an all-time low thanks to poor performances and the labour dispute. Not helping matters at all was that just down the street, the Air Canada Centre was under construction. Companies simply weren’t willing to renew their Skybox lease.

So, in November of 1998, the stadium filed for bankruptcy protection. The poor hoodwinked Chicago consortium that Baker writes of actually purchased the stadium in 1998 out of bankruptcy protection for a mere $85 million. Then after six years of low corporate interest in suites and having the Blue Jays and Argos as its only tenants, the stadium was purchased by Rogers for $25 million in 2004. The truth of the matter is that the stadium was a bad investment long before the Blue Jays had a below .500 season that year.

After this, that greedy corporate owner Rogers shelled out money to fix the stadium up and invest in the team, giving an ill advised extension to Vernon Wells as well as putting up the dough to bring free agent signings A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas to Toronto, along with added salary in trades. These teams came close, finishing in second place in 2006 and third again in 2007.

During this period, the value of the team doubled in value from 2004 to 2009. Rogers used the newly christened Rogers Centre as more of a multi-purpose stadium than previous ownership groups, holding everything from U2 concerts to monster truck rallies at the venue, while turning it into a money maker.

Here is where I think the large gaps in understanding exist between someone who is understanding of the slowness with which the Blue Jays are adding payroll, represented by me, and someone else who wants the team to spend money immediately, as represented by Geoff Baker. Rogers making money, even through businesses closely related to the Toronto Blue Jays isn’t the same thing as the Toronto Blue Jays making money. Wealthy corporate ownership doesn’t translate into high payrolls, and nor should it. As we’ve seen with the Toronto Blue Jays original rise to power from the mid-eighties to the early-nineties, raising payroll was done responsibly after attendance had already increased, as a means of putting together a winning ball club.

Despite this, Baker insists with his obvious limited understanding of investment in currency futures and how MLB earnings are calculated that Rogers is continuing to hoodwink the fans of Toronto by taking advantage of the stronger Canadian dollar to pay less money while making it look as though it’s more.

The Blue Jays fielded a payroll of roughly $50 million in 2003 at the height of Moneyball hysteria. Every dollar of that cost the team roughly $1.50 in Canadian funds because of the exchange rate.

In other words, they spent $75 million Canadian on that year’s payroll.

This is simply not true. An organization as big as the Blue Jays, owned by an even bigger company in Rogers, would be heavily invested in currency futures as a means of mitigating potential shifts in the value of the Canadian dollar. It’s also not taking into account that the team’s own gate revenue is the only thing that comes in Canadian dollars. Income from Major League Baseball would all be in U.S. dollars as would the special currency exchange fund that was set up by MLB to help the Blue Jays deal with disparities between the U.S. and Canadian dollars.

This year’s Blue Jays opened with a payroll of roughly $70 million. But the Canadian dollar at the time was now — at worst — on-par with the U.S. greenback. In plain English, it spent roughly $70 million Canadian on this year’s team.

So, in terms of real money spent, the present-day Blue Jays with their new stadium and all are spending even less money than they were in their cheapest of the cheap years under Ricciardi and his Moneyball-likened cost slashing.

Not only do Baker’s figures not take into account everything mentioned above, they blatantly ignore that while payroll is down under new GM Alex Anthopoulos, the money spent on draft pick signing bonuses, international free agents and the cash included in trades for prospects is way up.

I would like to thank Baker though, who at the end of his fiction, condescendingly encourages his readers to:

Make sure you’re looking at the stuff that matters. Start at the very top and work your way on down. No, it’s not as easy as venturing to a website and adding up all the pertinent numbers. Nor as easy as watching the latest Brad Pitt movie. Sometimes, it takes some real legwork to find the answers and they won’t become apparent right away.

But that’s OK. We’re not all experts in every realm. The best we can do is try to stay better informed about the issues that matter.

I couldn’t agree more.

Comments (79)

  1. Ted Rogers thanks you for this article.

    • There are many ways that Rogers shits on Blue Jays fans, but not spending money on talent acquisition isn’t one of them.

      • Now if only they could give us more than one above-average payroll in a decade.

        • I’d rather see good players than well paid ones myself. And I’d rather see a team that reaches contention with a below average salary rather than one that spends its way to the playoffs.

          Try to find examples in the wildcard era of teams that had an extended string with regular postseason appearances that spent above their league’s median payroll before first having a season as a true contender on a lower budget. Now of the spenders, try to find even one that didn’t have either an above average attendance before spending above the median,or a new stadium deal to artificially boost attendance.

          Then, try to find teams that built contenders by keeping payroll at a below average rate, stockpiling good value talent, and waited until after reaching the postseason before spending to keep the team in contention.

          If you’re honest, you’ll find more teams in the second category, even with big market teams.

          If you want a team that has a chance to win for a number of years, you should never, never make increased spending a priority until you have a contender in place. If there’s an opportunity to pick up someone at a contract that offers good value, great! But teams that reach contention while keeping payroll below average are historically much more likely to stay there.

          • I’d rather see a high salary consistent contender than a below average salary team that hasn’t made the playoffs in two decades. There is absolutely no reason the Jays can’t follow the Red Sox model of success here.

          • When John Henry bought the team. Of course, the Red Sox were always well above average to begin with, but he pushed them into a different stratosphere.

          • Try again. The Red Sox were already near the top in payroll, and regular contenders when Henry bought the team. The Sox actually reduced payroll and made a more efficient roster under Henry before boosting payroll.

      • Haha, wow, I hope you’re locked in a secure bunker somewhere. The screaming and hate alone will rip your face off as soon as you open your Twitter or email. Hiroshima and FullmarFanJr blast waves can be lethal.

        • The only hate that I see seems to be coming from a guy that continues to shadow every one of my posts online.

          If you’ve got a cogent point to make, make it. If not, do us all a favour and shut the fuck up.

          • Haha, sorry fella, take your frownie face and go back and read any number of them in the last ten years. The last month in particular. Like Stoeten says, you just hammer on the same mantra, regardless of any new reality. You want to believe what you want to believe.

          • I’ve got respect for Fullmer Fan. He can be convinced through good argument. We just disagree on what kind of money Rogers should be spending on the Jays. He might be faster to point out what he disagrees with than what he agrees with, but on the whole, I find him reasonable.

          • I get that you want to believe in Rogers. That’s admirable, that’s exactly what you’d expect a fan to do. Unfortunately, based on all that we’ve seen over the last decade, I’m just not sure there’s a reason to.

            Making a profit still comes before putting a winning team on the field for this ownership group. That hasn’t and won’t change.

          • Sh!t. I clicked on the wrong reply. My retort to this falls just under this under BringVottoHome’s comment. Sorry.

            “Right. A fair and balanced approach I use to this point in time is, Alex Anthopoulos has only been in the big chair for 25 months, he really has zero to do with any previous failings/frustration of a Rogers and Ricciardi governed course for the franchise and operating. I watch, listen and observe what he says, and to this point, for me, there is nothing to be sceptical or displeased about. For the purpose of this current rebuild, I believe what happened prior to October 1st, 2009 has nothing to do with today.”

          • Oh, and that comment wasn’t directed at Parkes. I have a completely different issue with his ceaseless defense of an organization that hasn’t proven it deserves it.

          • I know you rip hard on Beeston, but a possitive event has been that those who own the Toronto Blue Jays made an vast improvement by hiring Beeston to replace Godfrey. We benifit from that for sure. More importantly, Beeston stuck around and selected Anthopoulos, to which we’ve thank f@#k benifited from. To me, it’s inconceivable that they’ll just always hover at a $80 million (or some such) payroll. The entire city would revolt and so would I. (Actually, i’d just stop watching/reading. ) Anthppoulos seems full of integrity, and I don’t see him joing leagues with people that duplicitous.

          • I agree with Fullmer. Rogers needs to spend some dough and get some talent.

  2. So do I. That was great.

    • Right. A fair and balanced approach I use to this point in time is, Alex Anthopoulos has only been in the big chair for 25 months, he really has zero to do with any previous failings/frustration of a Rogers and Ricciardi governed course for the franchise and operating. I watch, listen and observe what he says, and to this point, for me, there is nothing to be sceptical or displeased about. For the purpose of this current rebuild, I believe what happened prior to October 1st, 2009 has nothing to do with today.

  3. Well done, Sir.

  4. *Slow Clap*
    Bravo Dustin, bravo.
    Would be real interested to find out if Baker ever comes across this and how he would respond to his trolling.

  5. Ricciardi must’ve black-listed the Star from any press releases or announcements. They don’t like it when people do that.

    • We would know if he did that. We found out pretty quick when Rob Ford stopped inviting the Star to his events and sending them releases.

      • I think it was fairly well documented that Ricciardi preferred to run his mouth off to his hometown Masshole media. One might conclude that he did that to give the Jays, or himself, more exposure.

    • Richard Griffin could barely contain his hate for Ricciardi from the first press conference announcing his hire. If not earlier.

  6. I miss the days when the Jays were just owned by one person, like 1992-93, and not big corporations like Rogers or Labatt’s or CIBC or InBev.

    • The Jays have never been owned by one person.

      • Didn’t it go from Labbatt to InterBrew/InBev (when they acquired Labbatt), to Rogers? There was never a single owner.

      • I think that’s the joke. #Sarcasm

        • Yes, thank you. The Jays won 2 World Series and had the highest payroll in baseball while being owned by Labatt’s. Then InBev bought Labatt’s and changed things up. You can’t just blame “corporate ownership”. Carl Pohlad owned the Twins forever, he was the richest owner in baseball for a while (IIRC) and the Twins still never spent much on payroll.

    • I’m almost positive Harold Ballard owned the Jays for a little while.

  7. 1. It’s ridiculous to scoff at Baker’s point about the US Dollar. The Jays aren’t invested in futures for a decade at a time; Beeston has said they buy their operating dollars before the year, not 5 years in advance. The fluctuation matters, a lot.

    2. “Rogers making money, even through businesses closely related to the Toronto Blue Jays isn’t the same thing as the Toronto Blue Jays making money.”

    According to Forbes, the BLUE JAYS (not ROGERS) has had a positive operating income for 6 of the last 7 years. So if Forbes thinks that, you can bet your house on the fact that the Blue Jays have been raking in the dough since the Ricciardi era was forced to cut payroll and balance the books. If Forbes thinks the Jays operating income was 4m, it was probably 10x that, considering how it’s impossible for them to accurately gauge the TV contract with itself and the value of the franchise to Rogers.

    • In the same paragraph, you argue “Forbes says the Blue Jays are making money so they must be making money,” and “Forbes has no way of knowing how much money the Blue Jays are making.” Brilliant.

      • Indeed, that’s what I said. Forbes uses the numbers made available to them, and STILL had the Jays turning a profit, despite not having any access to the value of the TV rights.

    • No matter what the futures are, it’s still better than what Baker is suggesting. And he nor you are accounting for the currency funds MLB was providing or that not all of their income is in Canadian dollars in the first place.

      Yes, that $3.6 million profit from 2010 according to Forbes should have landed them Pujols.

  8. Baker’s reaction(s) at http://twitter.com/#!/gbakermariners

  9. Orlando Hudson!

  10. Im surprised you didn’t mention how both Baker and Griffin were ripped to shreds by Michael Lewis in the most recent edition of Moneyball on account of that stupid “White Jays” article. I feel like Baker and Griffin have this hate for Riccardi because of his ties to Moneyball. You can see some of that smugness with the reference to “Brad Pitt movies”. This parasite reports in Seattle yet he still haunts us.

    • Good point.

      I used to send an email to reporters whose columns suggested they had never read Moneyball, yet felt they should criticize it anyway (I know. I should get a better hobby). I usually compared it to doing your book report in Grade 9 if you hadn’t read the book yet. If I didn’t get a reply I’d send it to the Sports Editor.

      Got some interesting replies over the years but never received word one from anyone at The Star. I’d agree that Griffin and Baker didn’t like JP because of Moneyball. I’m also convinced neither of them ever read the book.

  11. Okay, not trying to bump traffic to my twitter feed (@spclxk) but Baker responds to Parkes post there.

    • Wow – The fact that Baker has a response to this article for every minute that’s past since it came to his attention sure makes him look bad.

      • I went to high school with Geoff, and knew him quite well at the time. he isn’t afraid to debate.

        The bottom line is that Rogers have owned the jays since the year 2000.

        The most number of wins that they have under Rogers is 87. The lowest was 67.

        Rogers has produced a mediocre team with a below average payroll.

        I support AA’s rebuild, but he must be allowed to have the financial resources to get the jays into pennant race by 2013.
        The company only had 1 year with a payroll of 97 million.

    • “@gbakermariners
      Geoff Baker
      @spclxk It’s been amusing watching Toronto bloggers tie themselves in knots to justify a decade-long rebuild that lined owners’ pockets”

      -16 @gbakermariners responses to this article … Who’s tying themselves into knots?

  12. Someone needs to explain Baker that payroll costs does not equal spending. Does he not realize we have drastically increased our spending on prospects and international FA’s???

  13. I’m a long-time reader and support much of what you write here. However, you miss the mark completely on the currency hedging part. I think it is highly unlikely that the team locked in futures that meaningfully changed their payroll costs and given that you provide no evidence in support of your point, I think you may want to consider a retraction.

    • I agree about the financial hedging. Thet team wouldn’t be doing major hedging of a shifting payroll. The team also stopped paying insurance on large contracts for players like wells because it was too expensive.

  14. HaHa… Judging from Baker’s twitter feed, you’ve clearly touched a nerve with this post – to the point where he for some reason felt the need to deny writing the headline to the White Jays article (notwithstanding that no one suggested that he wrote the headline).

  15. The Jays best season since 1993 was in 1998 while Gord Ash was still GM of the Jays. 5 years ago the faces of the franchise were Vernon Well, Alex Rios and Roy Halladay – 3 players drafted by Ash. As bad as Ash may have been as GM, Ricciardi was much, much worse. It’s not even close.

    • I will counter that by saying the 2006 Blue Jays were a better team AND finished higher in the standings, however futilely. Also the 2008 Jays were possibly the best fourth place team in baseball history, if you’re into hollow but moral victories.

      • “if you’re into hollow but moral victories.”

        As Toronto sports fans, We’ll take what we can get !

        #keepthefaith

    • Not true, JP Ricciardi built several very good teams in Toronto that would have been playoff teams in other divisions. You can’t say the same for Ash at all.

  16. Everything you say makes perfect sense and is the EXACT reason why corporate ownership is bad for sports teams. You are completely right – there should be no expectation that Rogers would raise payroll until the team pays for itself. Just because Rogers payroll policy doesn’t make them evil or cheap, it DOES make them shitty owners of a professional sports franchise.

    I would prefer to have an owner who buys a sports team first because he wants to win the World Series, and second because he wants to fill the stadium and make money. Your professional sports Stockholm Syndrome has blinded you to the fact that that person does exist somewhere.

    • I have never understood why people are so quick to separate corporate ownership from individual ownership. How many individual owners, across all major sports, are willing to spend blindly with no attention paid to profits?

      The highest spending teams are the highest revenue teams, which shines a light on Jerry Jones, Steinbrenner, and Jerry Buss. It’s begging the question to assume that these teams would spend so much, wins be damned. How have Peter Angelos, Donald Sterling, or Al Davis worked out in recent years? How much do Minnesota sports franchises or Milwaukee teams spend with their individual ownership? On the other side, think of the San Antonio Spurs (individual) and Atlanta Braves (corporate) – fiscal responsibility and sustained recent success.

      The fact is that the vast majority of owners, corporate or individual, require their teams, AKA INVESTMENTS, to be run on a budget and earn a profit. If you think Rogers are cheap fucks, fine. But to blame corporate ownership as a whole makes no sense.

    • Very nicely said. The toronto media relies on employment by Rogers, so there is a reluctance to criticize the ownership group.

      It will get worse with Rogers & BCE owning all 4 major sports teams.

  17. Parkes, I’m afraid you’ve overstated the impact of Rogers’ currency hedging. There’s actually a huge likelihood that swings in the value of the Canadian dollar had a material impact on on the team’s profitability.

    Companies like Rogers do hedge on currency. But there’s just no way that hedging offsets the currency fluctuation we’ve seen in recent years. It simply doesn’t work that way.

    While hedging may have limited the downside in Ricciardi’s tenure, and may limit the upside now, it’s simply misleading to suggest the Jays aren’t benefitting significantly from the current value of the Canadian dollar.

    • Even if it’s two cents on the dollar. When we talk about $50 million, that’s a million dollars. It’s one sentence that mentions it along with several other factors.

  18. Does The Score still have proofreaders for the articles you post, or did they leave for a better paying job, and their own afternoon radio show too?

    Seriously, not only are you an awful sports reporter, but you can’t formulate proper sentences either?!?

    BRUTAL

  19. PREACH ON!!! Scrubs, the lot of them!

  20. My hats off you sir – that was simply spectacular!

  21. Parkes, I very much enjoy reading your articles but you’re way off base with your suggestions that Rogers is spending a lot on the Jays. The facts are:

    1. Team payroll is down from the last few years of Riciardi’s tenure which reached about 90 million at a time when the Canadian dollar was lower than now.

    2. While team spending on the draft was up the last 2 years, the spending you mentioned of approximately 10-11 million on the draft by the jays last year is only a few million above average spending by MLB teams on the draft. And you fail to mention that the jays had more draft picks in the first 2 rounds of the draft which of course means the team’s spending would inevitably higher be a little higher than MLB average spending on the draft – just like Tampa.

    3. Team spending is well below MLB average which is entirely unacceptable given the size of this market.

    4. The new Cba limits spending on the draft and international signings which means the jays should be reinvesting monies in the team payroll – since they can’t spend as much on the draft or international free agents.

    5. Beeston said the 120-140 million payroll amount was for team salary not all spending so the team’s current spending at 70 million is well below that figure. And this point counters your suggestion that other spending by the team should be considered when looking at team payroll.

    6. Currency hedging has little or no impact on the team’s spending.

    • Very well said. I hope the Rogers apologists don’t start arguing that the Jays have the best meals allowances for players in the minor leagues as proof of Rogers commitment to the team.

  22. I love how Parkes attacks this journalist work, he reveals again why he will always be a wannabe journalist.

  23. For those who think it unacceptable that the Jays’ payroll has typically been below average, here’s a question for you: is there a team whose success you feel they should model?

    The Red Sox? The ones that reached the postseason on a low payroll in 1995, then started gradually increasing payroll to a high level while playing well and drawing well?

    The Phillies? The team that won 86 games in 2001 and 2003 while staying in contention on a low payroll, then boosted their spending in 2004 when their new ballpark opened?

    The Angels? Who won a world series on a low payroll in 2001 before boosting their spending?

    The Braves? The team that made the postseason on a low payroll in 1991 before increasing their spending to remain at the top for ages?

    The Rangers? Would those be the ones who blew through a ton of money in the A-Rod years to win 70+ games a season, or the ones who made the World Series on a low payroll in 2001 and spent to keep it going in 2011?

    People need to stop acting like the Rays are the outlier here. They’re an outlier only in the sense that they’ve been able to sustain the contender they built without a high budget. Their method of building is a bit cheaper than most, but aiming to keep a payroll at an above average rate before winning and drawing fans is an approach that almost never works.

    Rogers is either cheap and has no intention to ever raise payroll, or Beeston’s being truthful about the plans to boost payroll once they’re drawing. They haven’t been successful and drawn, so we don’t know which. The latter would be ideal. However, I’d prefer an ownership that IS simply cheap over one that tries to spend too much before it’s drawing. Cheapskates have been more likely to build sustainable contenders than teams that like to spend before they have consistent crowds or a contender in place.

    • Excellent. This is my point exactly. Rogers isn’t cheap, they’re normal. Well put.

      • That is the point. And that’s where the disagreement lies. Some of us feel that Toronto isn’t normal; it’s the 4th(?) largest market in North America, not frikkin Pittsburgh or Milwaukee.
        Some of us were raised on the slow build and winning fruits of victory that followed. We prefer the fruits to the slow build. We want that back, not some 3 card monte act where we rebuild,tear down and rebuild again.
        Rogers, grow some balls and get some !@#$ talent up in this mutha!

        • I think we all agree that Toronto’s a big market with the capacity to sustain a higher payroll. But look at the above teams – the Phillies and Red Sox and Angels are big markets and big spenders – but they became big spenders after they built a lower cost product of enough quality to draw, not as a means of getting there. The question isn’t whether they can spend, it’s a question of when it’s wise to spend.

          If you’re getting impatient from the long drought and just want to see a few meaningful games before they tear down again, they could certainly spend their way to that point, perhaps as soon as 2012. That’s the approach teams like the Mets and Cubs have taken. That would be the approach to take if they’re not confident enough in the current crop of talent to try to build something sustainable – the low-risk, low-reward approach of just trying to get something for their efforts, with the knowledge that it’ll likely be shorter lived if it achieves success.

          If you believe that the current talent can build the core of something special, however, then being fiscally responsible becomes a great deal more important, because you’re not just aiming for a quick postseason fix before Bautista starts declining; you’re aiming for a team that can get to the top and stay there. Even with big market teams, the best way to stay at the top is to get to that point with as much financial flexibility as possible. There’s a risk there – if the talent core doesn’t pan out, it could be a wasted opportunity – but the reward is a contender that is more likely to stay in contention for a lot longer.

  24. Even an old lady in Montreal noticed it: back in the days when I was still crying my eyes out over the loss of the Expos, raging at the TV moguls who never broadcast the Expos but were suddenly bombarding us with Jays games, and realizing that unfortunately I would have to adopt that team or become a Red Sox fan, it occurred to me that maybe Alex Rios wouldn’t be looking so lost and might be doing better if he had someone to speak Spanish to beside that flake Gustavo Chacin… and I started to notice how utterly white-bread the Jays were all of a sudden. If it wasn’t racist policy, it certainly gave a good imitation thereof. Thank goodness someone got a grip; I’d hate to have to be a Red Sox fan. But the issue is not what was but what is, and the big question is whether Rogers cares at all about creating a winning baseball team. Is this whole “TeamUnit” nonsense, and the transfer of Jays broadcasts to Rogers One, and the defining of the whole of Canada, coast to coast, as the local blackout area for Major League Baseball’s Jays broadcasts just Rogers’ way to say that it isn’t your love of a particular sport that matters: just pay us your money and we’ll decide what sport you should be watching, and how often you can watch it? “Fed up” doesn’t begin to express my frustration.

  25. Gawd

    It’s off-season and I’m starting to read the strings on Parkes’ blog. Which is a very good blog, but it says very scary things about my off-time options. Firstly, that I’m reading the strings on Parkes’ blog posts, and B, that my fave part of this string is the apparently random “Orlando Hudson!” comment, because who doesn’t love Orlando Hudson? Kitties!

    Deep breath. I don’t miss Ricciardi, because he’s basically a douche and a liar, but he wasn’t as stupid as people make him out to be. Just as douchey (and liar-ey). Like everyone else I’m waiting on AA to restore my man crush from last year’s wheeling. And Geoff Baker is, was and always will be (like Steve Simmons — can I get a witness?) a retard.

    Thanks for parsing it out though DP. Nice piece of writing. I mean the parts not quoting GB. Who’s a retard. I mentioned that, right?

  26. “the Blue Jays had the fewest number of visible minorities”, I really hate the term visible minorities to describe, Latins, Blacks and Asians, because the last time I checked, Caucasians made up roughly 20% of the world population. How about the right player, at the right time, regardless of his colour?

  27. It must be slow for me to read Richard Griffin’s blog, but he’s another spend now fanatic. He’s predicting 81 wins for 2012. I guess we may forgive Baker his inadequacies if he was mentored by this idiot.
    Gaining an insight into a corporation is like looking at an egg, in that you can’t tell what’s going on on the inside by looking at the outside. We can gain a certain understanding of where it is going by looking at where it’s been. If we only account for certain points, however, and ignore others, we get a very distorted picture. If we report this as a journalist, or a blogger, it is called irresponsible.

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