Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

photo credit: @CommandSign

by mike in boston [hatemailaccount a..t.. gmail dot …. com] @mikeinboston

Traveling this week, so just a quick post.

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Jays Talk

 

This was the week we were all dreading. Going in to the off-season following a big payroll increase that led to 74 wins there were 3 clear needs for the Jays: 1) a starting catcher, 2) a starting second baseman, and 3) a top of the rotation starter. These are not matters of debate. JP Arencibia had one of the worst seasons in baseball history. The awful tandem of Izturis and Bonafacio fielded and hit poorly at 2B. And Dickey was not able to be the ace that he had been in seasons past. Meanwhile, the Yankees spent money improving their rotation, as did the Orioles. The Red Sox and Rays made moves to maintain their playoff rosters. So the main question was not what would the Jays do to improve but rather how much money would Rogers spend fixing the holes?

 

AA reveled this week that the current roster is basically the roster that will compete for spots on the opening day squad: no proven starting pitcher and no starting 2B. The team will go into the season hoping that surgery has cured Morrow and Melky, that Lawrie can be a full time player, that a veteran catcher who has never played a full season can do so in 2014 for the first time, and on and on and on. That’s how they plan to get to 90 wins.

 

The payroll will be basically the same as last year due to arbitration settlements and scheduled raises. The $14 million in savings from letting Josh Johnson go will not be spent on improving the starting rotation. One big question we all had was whether Rogers was committing to the Jays long term or just approving a one-time spending spree. AA and Beeston have assured us that more money is there if they want it. This has to be considered a lie at this point. The Jays had a big advantage over other teams this off-season in that they have protected draft picks. So, the total cost for signing a free agent pitcher is less for the Jays than it would be for other teams. Yet they are choosing  to waste this competitive advantage since they don’t want to pay$ 12-14 million for one of the best available starters.

 

For Jays fans, this is extremely disappointing. Why spend all that money last year if you weren’t willing to spend more this year to make sure that you capitalize on the assets you have? This is not an instance of good money after bad, since the Jays claim that they have a competitive roster. Maybe that’s a lie too, and they are planning to trade Bautista and Encarnacion. I guess we will see.

 

Many others have rightly slammed AA for terrible roster management. There are several guys who don’t have options left and so either have to make the team or be exposed to waivers. They should have been traded ages ago. There are several hitters who cannot hit left handed pitching yet the bench lacks a power right handed bat. Again, terrible roster management. Depth is the buzzword coming out of camp. The starting rotation in Buffalo is going to be solid like we’ve never seen before. I guess that is good news but I don’t see how that helps improve the quality of the 600 innings you want to get out of the top of your rotation.

 

Here’s my question for you this morning: can you remember a bigger disappointment inToronto sports than what we have seen since the Marlins tradeThe Jays were touted by some as World Series contenders prior to the season, then the season was a disaster out of the gate, then they won 11 straight to get back in it, followed by a steady decline that yielded no meaningful baseball in August or September. Then their pariah ex-manager wins the World Series with their division rival, and then they make no plausible moves to turn their 2013 roster in to a 90 win team in 2014. That is a rough 14 months. Have the Leafs or Raps ever had a such a crash? I guess TFC might be in the running, depending on how things turn out this year.

 

For more opinions, see: Jays are a last place team  and Jays Gotta Be Better, Right? and Hooray! Internal Improvement

 

Quick Hits

 

  • on PTS Beeston said there is no circumstance in which we see grass in the Dome before 2018. That’s a disappointment. It would be nice to see them making more improvements to the fan experience in the meantime.

 

  • Naylor had a co-host on from the Buffalo News several days last week. It’s the Olympics. Why would you have an American on? Was there really no one better left in Toronto?

 

  • Speaking of Buffalo, I drove through there yesterday and caught their drive time show. Here is what I heard: “I enjoy watching Canada lose more than I enjoy watching the US win, so you can imagine how devastating the US loss to Canada in hockey was.” Ah Buffalo … never has a city deserved the fate of its football team more. They are perfect for each other.

 

have a good weekend everyone, and thanks for reading

mike (in boston)

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Sam
Sam
February 22, 2014 10:00 am

Easy things the Blue Jays could do to get me to the games is turn off the commercials, the blaring music and show replays of close plays FFS.

robg
robg
February 22, 2014 10:26 am

Unfortunately Mike, the $14m Johnston savings has been more than swallowed up by the following. Buehrle 2013 contract $11m, Buehrle 2014 contract $18m; Reyes 2013 contract $10m, Reyes 2014 contract $16m; Dickey 2013 contract $5.25m, Dickey 2014 contract $12m;. In addition, Encarnacion’s contract is up $1m over last year, Lind’s contract is up $2m over last year, Rasmus is up $2.3m over last year, Santos up $1m over last year, Rogers up $1.3 m over last year, and Cecil up $800k over last year. Those are just unfortunate facts – it’s not to take away from your salient point which is we haven’t addressed an additional starting pitcher. I’ll give AA a slight pass on 2B – let’s see what Goins can do to open the season. He certainly addresses the defense, or lack thereof last year, which also had an affect on starting pitching. What I won’t give a pass on is what I perceive as Roger’s current step back from an apparent move last year to “play with the big boys” once again.

Alex
Alex
February 22, 2014 11:41 am

Not sure what Tim Graham being American has to do with his being a co-host. I’d rather have him than Hodge or O’Neill or Simmons. Did people not like Jim Kelly co-hosting PTS with Bob because he was from Buffalo?

I thought Mirtle did a good job co-hosting with Naylor the other day after the olympic hockey game.

Reel E
Reel E
February 22, 2014 12:39 pm

I agree Alex. Kind of a funny comment from a guy called Mike (in Boston).

Robert
Robert
February 22, 2014 1:19 pm

I have to believe the spending restraint is coming from Rogers. Otherwise, why would AA, who I’m sure understands his job is on the line, not acquire pitching depth when all it would cost is money? It makes no sense going into the season with so many question marks and absolutely no guarantee that this team will be competitive.

Daniel
Daniel
February 22, 2014 1:53 pm

Yeah, I’m definitely disappointed in this offseason (how could you not be?). It’s hard in some senses to bash Rogers for payroll when they’ll be at about $135 mil (as RobG said – there’s $15 mil in salary increases for internal players) and I believe top 10 in MLB. If they REALLY wanted to save salary they could dump Buerhle or something.

That said they had a great opportunity with Jiminez and Santana to get those guys under FA market value. It’s really hard to understand how they didn’t sign one of them.

Things absolutely COULD work out with the rotation. Dickey was very good after he got over his neck injury, Buerhle’s solid. Morrow is a year removed from a great year. And it’s totally possible that two of Happ/Drabek/Hutchinson/Stroman/Redman could be good.

But … man… things will really have to break right. If Morrow stinks and the young guys can’t get it together, it could easily be an unmitigated disaster.

We’ll see. Quite often teams with offseason hype fail to meet expectations, while internal improvements change a team’s fortunes. We’ll see. But I think this could be a defining year for AA. If it’s another sub .500 season I could see him being in trouble.

Andrew
Andrew
February 22, 2014 3:05 pm

I think this is all connected in ways we’ll never know until Keith Pelley writes his memoirs. FWIW, I don’t think Rogers expected to win the entire NHL contract. I’m guessing they figured Bettmen would make a deal with all 3 Canadian broadcasters. At the same time Rogers is “winning” that deal, they’re getting a new CEO who isn’t nearly as excited about sports properties. Now they find themselves all in on hockey and busy trumpeting a contract to broadcast junior hockey, except for the only junior hockey anyone in the GTA cares about.
Now they’ve,perhaps inadvertently, pissed off their partners in MLSE. And suddenly the MLSE teams have no problem spending money(TFC), which is probably part of their agreement to run the teams. The Jays, on the other hand, appear to be pinning all their hopes on some rather optimistic evaluations of their pitching staff and not spending any more money. Most fans appear to already have their ankles taped ready to jump off the bandwagon and spring training hasn’t even opened. If I was Gibby, I’d be renting month by month because that appears to be the only card AA has to play. This season could be right in the shitter by the end of April.
The Raptors and Leafs figure to be playing into May, if not June and TFC figures to garner a lot of interest. The Jays could be playing in front of family and friends by the time school gets out. The long term picture is that basketball and soccer are growing demographics and hockey is probably steady at best, certainly when participation is measured. TSN probably has free reign to work with those properties because it doesn’t appear to me that Rogers wants to spend anymore on sports.
“Winning” the NHL contract may not wind up winning at all.

Mullah_Kintyre
Mullah_Kintyre
February 22, 2014 7:14 pm

Since getting the national NHL deal, Rogers does seem to be in a “nothing else matters” mode, which could result in losing viewers of other sports.

Reality
Reality
February 23, 2014 2:30 pm

Mike (in Boston), did you listen to ALL of what Beeston said on PTS or just the parts you wanted to hear. He explained that putting grass in was a process that required all kinds of thngs to happend and changes that would take time to do to the physical structure of building. I too would love to improve the fan experience but putting grass in the building is not going to do that in the same way as making food and drink more affordable or other changes that will ACTUALLY effect the fans….not what will effect the players.

1yr ago, everyone loved the Florida deal. AA did all he could to put together a contender and it did not work out. Easy to look back and say “AA BLEW IT”.
I would love to see him do more too but not at the cost of signing players to contracts that make no sense.

I wish you would report the facts and not just part of the facts!

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
February 23, 2014 4:35 pm

Reality-I work construction 6to8 months tops ready to play, delay and drag it out to your conveniance or excuse you pick. Beeston talks out of both sides of his mouth.Dome closed start project…

Ami Angelwings
February 23, 2014 6:43 pm

@Mike (in Boston), you mean Sammut and Rusic? They’ve been together pretty consistently now for Sportsnet Tonight & the weekends. I’m okay with them. I’m starting to tire of Rusic as I hear more of him, when I liked him before in spurts. I also think they meander into pop culture stuff too much. My biggest issue is I can’t tell their voices apart. There’s a certain lilt in Sammut’s voice I listen for, but unless he’s speaking for a long period of time, they both sound the same to me, and it’s really frustrating. D:

I think they do some decent interviews though. Is the Salming/Sundin interview(s) up online?

Ami Angelwings
February 24, 2014 2:27 am

Doesn’t this just show that Boras can’t find a place for his clients, knows that the Jays hold the hammer because they don’t have to give up a first round pick, and is trying to pressure them into giving him the money he want?

Ami Angelwings
February 24, 2014 2:27 am

*wants

Daniel
Daniel
February 24, 2014 2:06 pm

The only reason I’d pause before going with the ‘Rogers is going cheap on the Jays now’ narrative is that the team’s 2014 payroll is still going to be $50 million higher than it was in 2012. $135 isn’t quite an elite payroll, but it’s not bad. I think still top 10 in the game. If they really wanted to save money, they could easily dump a guy like Buerhle and get closer to where they were a couple years ago.

Is it possible AA just genuinely doesn’t like Santana and Jiminez and would rather start Hutchinson/Happ/Drabek/Stroman and save that money for something else? Yeah, it is. It’s not what I would have done, but it’s possible that’s what AA is thinking.

Daniel
Daniel
February 24, 2014 2:09 pm

Also, I know there’s an easy perception out there that all Sportsnet employees are shills for Rogers/The Jays, but I really haven’t seen that since The Fan suspended Wilner for criticizing Cito. Davidi wrote an article about Boras’ critcisms:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/super-agent-boras-rips-blue-jays-ownership/

Daniel
Daniel
February 24, 2014 2:12 pm

But…even though I’m kind of defending the Jays a bit here… I have to say I think passing on Santana and Jiminez is a total wasted opportunity. And if this IS Rogers pumping the brakes on this team, when they’re probably not far off contending…when the fanbase CLEARLY responded to last year’s big off season… then Rogers deserves all the scorn theyd have coming.

Daniel
Daniel
February 24, 2014 2:19 pm

Ultimately, Boras IS right though. This is a premium market, with ultra rich owners. The Jays should have top payrolls every year – the fans have shown they’d respond to that. And when you see how much teams are getting for local MLB rights, and how good to great Jays ratings can be.. it is damn frustrating.

Look at the way Leiweke talks about the MLSE teams and this market. I’d love to see what he’d do with this team. Wouldn’t be a 5 year cap on contracts, I’m guessing.

Mike S
Mike S
February 24, 2014 5:43 pm

Maybe 1050 had Tim Graham as co-host because he is a Friend Of Naylor (F.O.N.)???

It surprised me a bit, not because he is American but because he is mostly a football writer……….it made sense to have him as co-host on 1050 during Super Bowl week………but maybe not after the NFL season is over

I seem to remember McCown had Rob Becker as co-host for a week during the 2006 Winter Olympics………it was a strange decision but it turned out to be interesting because the Wayne & Janet Gretzky gambling “scandal” broke that week and Becker had a lot of insight into the legal angle of that story

I also remember McCown having George Ofman (from Chicago) as co-host during Grey Cup week in the 1990’s…………back then PTS used to spend a lot more time talking about the CFL than it does now………….Ofman is usually pretty good but that decision was peculiar because he knew very little about the CFL

d
d
February 24, 2014 9:31 pm

I would worry if there were bonified ace starting pitchers out there that the jays were not willing to pay. There were none this year in free agency. Ill take my chances with drabek/hutch/stroman making peanuts over ubaldo/ervin for 5 years eating up money that could be spent on re-upping rasmus or free agents next year. Everyone complains about romero making 7 mill a year pitching in buffalo. I couldn’t imagine the backlash of santana or jimenez reverting back to what they were 2 years ago making double what romero makes for the next half decade. AA might be in trouble if the jays stumble around .500 this year, but if he drops 100 million on santana and drew to make fans happy and the jays are still .500, he’s gone for sure. Spend wisely, not for the sake of it

Ami Angelwings
February 24, 2014 11:21 pm

Did anybody notice that Bob’s professional poker experience paralleled his profession bowler experience? He’s a celebrity guest at a professional tournament, he does surprisingly well at first and hangs with the big boys, and then he begins to realize just how long and grueling competing at the pro level is, and he ends up losing. The difference is with bowling, it was how hard it was on his body that led to him losing, and with poker, it was him realizing just how many more hours he’d have to keep playing that led to him going all in and being okay if he lost (which he did).

Ami Angelwings
February 25, 2014 6:16 am

Zaun agrees with Anthopolous not signing Santana, Jiminez, or Burnett. Given his cynicism and tendency to judge players harshly, I thought that would be the logical position for him, but I also know he’s been very critical of Alex as a GM in the past, and I was wondering if he would lean that way since Alex is such an easy target right now, but he didn’t.

Daniel
Daniel
February 25, 2014 2:19 pm

Blair and Brunt were quite adamant that AA has more money to spend if he wants it, but that he genuinely preferred Happ/Stroman/Drabek/Hutinson over Jiminez/Santana. For what it’s worth.

Steve
Steve
February 25, 2014 3:28 pm

Daniel – Just because AA didn’t sign Jimenez or Santana doesn’t mean he thinks Haap, Stroman, Hutch, Drabek, etc. are better. But he didn’t have the option of signing Jimenez or Santana to 1 year deals and then make a decision on them. It was 4 or 5 years of those guys, and if they are only slightly better than the in-house options, then spending that money would be wasteful. This lineup needs more offence and that money will need to be spent on beefing up the lineup, if they are going to improve over the next 5 years.

Daniel
Daniel
February 25, 2014 5:24 pm

Steve – I’m just repeating what Brunt and Blair said.

I hear what you’re saying on factoring in money/opportunity cost.

I actually think the lineup/bullpen are pretty strong (unless crazy injuries again).

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