Is Rogers going to Spend on Toronto Blue Jays?


It was with great interest that I read this quote last night from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun:

“What worries me about Bell and Rogers joining forces to buy the majority stake in MLSE is Rogers. They’ve owned the Blue Jays since the end of the 2000 season and in that time, 11 straight seasons, the Jays have yet to make the playoffs.

Why? Because Rogers has refused to spend the money necessary to challenge for a playoff or wild card spot in the AL East.

And now Rogers owns a stake in Leafs and Raptors. Yes, there are salary caps in the NHL and NBA, but you have to wonder about Rogers’ commitment to winning.”

Maybe it’s me, maybe the truth hurts, maybe I am alone, but I find that statement to be both unfair and too simplistic. Winning is hard and if it were only as easy as being willing to spend money then lots of teams who have similarly failed would be champions. Admittedly I don’t have all the numbers in front of me, but I don’t think it’s as simple as bashing Rogers ownership reign of the Blue Jays as an unwillingness to spend to win. Have they been at the top of the payroll list? No, they haven’t. I admit that. While I suspect that many a GM would say that they could always do with having more payroll to work with, I just don’t think it’s that simple.

Compare that quote with the following potential development:

From the NYPost

“Having made a posting bid above $40 million and possibly close to $50 million, the Blue Jays are the favorites to land the negotiating rights to Yu Darvish.

There is a belief the Cubs also made a large bid on the right-handed pitcher but a number hasn’t been attached to their bid.

The Yankees made a bid Wednesday night, but it’s not expected to top what the Blue Jays submitted. The Rangers are also believed to have bid.

According to several sources with knowledge of the situation, the Blue Jays made the monster bid on orders from owner Rogers Communications.

Add that estimated $40-50 million posting fee to the five-year, $75 million deal Darvish is supposedly going to seek and you have a $115 million to $125 million price tag for a hurler who has never thrown a pitch in the big leagues and has gotten fat against over-matched hitters in Japan who aren’t as good as those he’ll face here.”

So, I assume we should all breathe easier if the story is true and Rogers has backed up the cash truck at chateaux Blue Jays right? Who cares if the signing works out, as long as they spend the money.

Safe to assume there are some MSMers in Toronto who won’t be getting holiday cards from Brian Burke:

“I don’t pick those fights,” Burke says. “The media pick those fights. My relationship with the media is excellent. With certain members of the media that, in my mind, aren’t professional, it’s not very good and it never will be. I don’t ever want to be on good terms with unprofessional people. And if that means we have a clash with people who work for the owners, then we have a clash. I’m not going to change how I do things based on who owns the team.”

That from the Toronto Star.

You guys remember Bill Watters? Well the fine folks at PPP had a funny story on Wilbur:

“On XM radio last night Bill Watters claimed that Jim Rutherford and Brian Burke had a deal in place involving Eric Staal that was on hold because of Brian Burke’s roster freeze. Bill Watters went on to claim that the deal would be completed after the roster freeze was lifted.”

Their story quotes Bob Mckenzie who went to Rutehrford who called BS.

Now let me say this. Here in Toronto I don’t listen to much XM radio hockey. While in Seattle I love it simply because it’s where I get my hockey fill. When I am there, I outwardly laugh when I hear his name as a hockey insider. Poor Bill got overpaid and overexposed. For those who miss him, you can find him there. For the rest of us, we continue to be happy that he is really only there.

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December 16, 2011 2:52 am

I agree ..Good for the Jays/Rogers if the story and figures are correct…after all its not my money and at least there are trying to do something wilth all the talk they were unwilling to spend…just hope he can pitch in the majors
As for Staal to the leafs I also find it hard to bleive,even thought he is strugling for them to give up on him so early? and for who?…Watters must be looking for attention seeing no one listens to him anymore…

Ami Angelwings
December 16, 2011 5:11 am

I came up with a theory a few days ago (and if the Jays DID big really high on Darvish and the NY Post is correct that the dictate came from Rogers, it might have something xD ) that the Jays might have money to spend NOW that the MLSE purchase is over. Griffin speculated that maybe the Jays suddenly put limitations on Anthoupolous because they had 533 million allocated to MLSE, but if they were planning to buy half of MLSE, but they didn’t know if they could get Bell onside (according to the interviews Bob conducted), why would they have just put 533 million aside? Nor would they have put NO money aside and not told AA until the last minute “oh, we need cash, sorry, no money for you!” And according to the interview with Nadr Mohamed, they had considered buying ALL of MLSE but decided that the content was so much that splitting half would be a more profitable and less expensive option, and then convinced Bell that it was a good idea.

So then isn’t it logical that they had already budgeted for a possible over 1 billion dollar purchase of MLSE? Whether or not they actually do it, any sensible company or person would budget the maximum possible figure, not the “best case scenario”, so they told Alex that he had budget limitations until they were sure just how much money had to be spent on MLSE. So, in fact, perhaps they don’t have 533 million LESS in their budget, as much as 533+ million MORE than their worst case scenario to buy MLSE.

It doesn’t mean that suddenly they have 500 million to spend on the JAYS, but it’s possible that now that the MLSE purchase is over and they have a final real number to put in their budget, they took off a freeze on expenditures and told Alex “okay you have money again”.

Obviously, I don’t have ANY insider information, and it’s all speculation xD But so is what Griffin said, and I just wanted to propose another way of looking at the situation. And if the Jays suddenly DO become big spenders (as rumours have them doing with Yu), maybe that’s at least a part of the reason :]

Ami Angelwings
December 16, 2011 5:21 am

Burke’s holiday freeze thing reminds me. Burke has ALL sorts of unwritten things that he believes in, and that he holds to because he thinks it’s right and if you treat people right they’ll treat you right. Like honouring no trade clauses, and not signing restricted free agents, and his holiday no-trade thing. Bryan Colangelo does too, how he helps players go to the teams they want to, how he will help out other teams in moving, etc etc…

And the theory is always the same, if you rip people off, people will be less anxious to deal with you, if you treat players poorly, you get a bad reputation, if you treat teams fairly (or even more than fairly, since if Burke had signed Kessel to a contract, he’d have given up less than what he ended up trading to the Bruins), they will return the favour… etc

My question is… has this ever paid off?

It’s not a rhetorical question where I’m saying that I don’t like the way they operate… it’s an honest question that I’ve always been curious of. In the cut throat market of the NHL and NBA where a lot of GMs don’t get to be Colangelo and Burke who are always guaranteed a well paying job somewhere, does it pay to be nice? Are people ever nice back? Have there been situations where the Bruins have done Burke a favour back, or where Hedo Turkoglu’s agent is likely to help Burke in the future, or Tomas Kaberle’s agent?

Do any of the scouts and assistant managers and accountants others that Burke gives the holidays off appreciate it to a degree where it’ll be paid back in something tangible? (i.e. staying when they could get a better job elsewhere, taking less money next contract, remembering how great a guy Burke was when they move to another team and paying him back with a favour) Or is it “he’s a great guy, he’s really nice and I appreciate working for him, but if I worked for a guy who made trades during the holidays, it’s not like I would quit or do a worse job”.

I wonder because a lot of the justification for all the restrictions that the Leafs seem to operate under because Burke is against all sorts of perfectly normal things other teams do, is that he has a belief that you should treat people right, and they will treat you right.

And I understand ethically and morally, even if people don’t treat you right, it’s no reason to not abandon your beliefs. But Brian is also running a hockey team whose goal is to win, so whether or not his altruism pays off, IS a factor, and I wonder if it pays off or not, and if people know of situations where it has? 🙂

December 16, 2011 9:51 am

Watters is buddies with Rutherford so ya never know if the story is BS. Time will tell.

As for Rogers spending on the Jays, it will never happen. If they improve this year and actually contend, they’ll be doing it with players they drafted or traded for. In some ways I don’t blame them – they recognize Toronto is not a baseball city. It has a few hardcore fans but going to a Jays game is not the “in thing” to do. It’s the “in things” that attract freeloading corporate execs to bring their so called clients to – and Rogers doesn’t see that happening here with the Jays.

December 17, 2011 3:46 pm

Great post Ami. It seems like in Burke’s case, it probably has paid off on occasion…i.e. if you combine the Kessel trade with the subsequent Kaberle trade, it probably evened out the perceived imbalance of the Kessel trade. As well, Calgary seems to feel that they continually owe the Leafs a favour!! 🙂

For Colangelo it is more difficult as he has to fight the biases of many players perceptions of Canada, voiced rather infamously by Antonio Davis several years ago, so his m.o. is more out of necessity than Burke’s.

itchy butt
itchy butt
December 17, 2011 5:35 pm

All i need to see is the word “Buffery” and I know to stop reading.

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