Paul Beeston is out and Mark Shapiro is in. Lets take a look at what that means for the Jays.
First, for the players in the locker room right now, this news doesn’t mean much. Even if it could mean something, Shapiro and the Blue Jays Org will downplay or table it so it does not distract the Jays players from the historical work they’re in the process of doing.
And if there is someone to distract, whom might they look like? Well, outside the lineup, Alex Anthopulous is one individual that Shapiro should start chumming up to, especially considering the chance that AA could move on at the end of the season as his contract with the Jays will run its course. Those chances are very slim, and highly contingent on the Jays pushing into the post season, but it’s a thing. Shapiro—and he probably already is—should play nice with AA lest that thing become a bigger thing.
If I’m AA, I’m going to take a look at all options available to me at the end the season, especially since I’ll be the toast of the town if my hand-built Jays push deep into the postseason. That makes my stock go up. Considering how hard it is to raise a GM’s stock—this is pretty much the best and only way—I don’t want to waste my bargaining power, or make any promises I can’t keep.
Shapiro is savvy. He knows all this, so pushing anything on AA now isn’t worth it. Best to let AA enjoy the run, but stay present as a positive and supportive advisor, hinting to AA that, going forward with the Jays, there will be fewer hurdles and more latitude for any GM. Things are changing, Alex, and their is a unique chance for you to help foster that change to your personal specifications…
Interestingly, no one is talking about what will happen to John Gibbons at the end of the season anymore. Remember when that was also a thing? Remember how, if the team tanked in ‘15, Gibbons, AA, or both would get fired, with Gibbons as a sacrificial lamb followed by AA either canned or let loose come year’s end? Amazing what a few trades and a winning record can do to the narrative. Now the fan base only touches their pitchforks and “Fire Gibbons!” signs when they’re pushing them out of the way to reach their new David Price jerseys.
Speaking of, guys with options or exit paths, like Price, Bautista (his option will be picked up) and Edwin Encarnacion (also will be picked up) have already had their agents reach out and say hello.
Dickey’s agent has most likely done the same, but for different reasons: gauging interest for next year.
I’m going to say Dickey stays. After all, who takes his spot? Stroman is going to pick up where Price left off when he—and he will—leaves in 2016. Losing Dickey would mean losing a potential 200 innings. 200 innings is worth 12 million, even with the devalued Canadian dollar. The Jays don’t have anyone to pick those 200 innings up currently. Oh, wait, you weren’t thinking Aaron Sanchez, were you? Well, maybe… But what if Buehrle retires? Now it’s possibly 400 innings…
I’d get used to Dickey.
Price, while excellent, may not be worth the expense considering the conversion difference would make it nearly 25% more expensive for the Jays to sign him than it would a US competitor, and that’s with full knowledge that Jays will most likely have to overpay by % 3 because of the north of the boarder factor—let alone the massive offers from contending big market teams. That’s a hell of an expensive left arm. Yes, they’ll overpay for anyone under these conditions, but, goddam that’s a lot of money.
Better to sign less expensive, middle rotation guys and keep a stable full of offensive powerhouses, trusting them to make up for the pitching difference until you get some controllable pitching prospects to the top, locked in. If, however, you were going to go full tilt after a player, trusting the dollar to even out down the economic road, go for Price. The way he pitches screams at me, “I will pitch for a long time and always find a way to compete! Money well spent here!”
If you’re Shapiro, all those things are on your season’s end radar. On the seasons to come radar, there are some other blips:
The Jays infrastructure has some clear issues to address. The Rogers Centre is woefully outdated and under monetized beyond what Rogers’ monopolistic stance as the only baseball venue in town can manage. Sorry, faithful fans, but it’s one of the most sterile, industrial, uninteresting places to watch a game in all of baseball, and you pay a lot for the not so awesome baseball experience you’re getting.
The Jays are winning, but the Rogers Centre is still a giant airplane hangar from the 80’s. It’s dark and cold, hard to get to and has very little baseball character. Whether that’s me being bias/unfair or not, the fact is there are very few unique experiences for millennials. The hotel is showing it’s age, the facility is no longer the architectural marvel it once was, and the restaurant improvements are nice but hardly world changing. The concourse feels like a giant mall food court. So much can and should be done! It’s the only team in the country, by god it should feel like a baseball Mecca! Help get the Argonauts a new home and make it one!
And there is reason to do it. This fan base, right here, right now, is a new fan base. Fresh faced, bright eyed. You’ve got nearly 2 decades worth of fans who haven’t seen the club win or play meaningful baseball. This isn’t pulling old fans back in, this is NEW FANS we’re talking about. New markets. Unique viewers. That’s a massive untapped marketshare for you to indoctrinate into your faithful consumer, and, what, you want them to come to an old, artificial, gray steel and concrete baseball bunker with a lid on it? You can do better.
But don’t stop there, Mark. You’re inheriting one of the worst minor league setups in in the industry—just ask Michaeal Saunder’s knee. Dunedin is a fabulous little town, but the Blue Jays complex is a joke. You’ll laugh, honest. After spending time in your state-of-the-art Arizona facility with the Indians, you’ll laugh when you see the Jays’ spring training home. Even Beeston calls it a bottom five.
If the Jays go any kind of far this post season, that little Florida town will be flooded with fans as the Canadian migration heads south to escape their brutal winters and see their favorite (and only) baseball team play up close and personal. Great for the businesses in Dunedin, not so great for the seats and tickets you could have sold. The Jays’ Spring Training complex is sad, and the minor league complex is, quite literally, hunkered down in a forgettable residential development you get to via a one lane back street.
Dunedin should be setting up travel perks, shuttles, and tax breaks for you even as I write this. Your fan base is a cash cow for them, and they need to clean up your pasture. Make it so.
Next, the organization could use some improved checks and balances on the promotion tree. I guess this is another way of saying that the Jays could use an upgrade to its player development. Shapiro scouted and developed an incredible list of prospects for the Indians. So good he had to sell or trade most of them because a small market like Cleveland couldn’t afford to keep them. The Jays MUST have a strong and steady pipeline of prospects as they are only in the situation they are now because they were able to wheel and deal so many away, and much of that was the product of rock-bottom finishes ensuring high round picks.
Everyone knows who the best players are going into the draft—not everyone knows who the sleepers are, the ones that just need the right development. The current model will need overhauled if prospects are to keep bubbling out from the Jays system.
—if you like this article, or the others on here, please click an add. The proceeds from clicks help keep this site up and running. Thanks!—