Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

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.

.

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)

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 32
  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar
    Reel E 6 years ago

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

  • comment-avatar

    I’m Canadian, but I earn my paycheques in the U.S.

    It’s odd to have an American on as co-host when all of the focus is going to be on Canadian athletes and what their performances mean for Canada. Hardly the sort of thing about which I expect someone whose expertise is Bills/Sabers to make meaningful contributions. That said, I thought Tim Graham did a fine job and would be OK with him as an occasional co-host during the Bills in Toronto weeks.

  • comment-avatar
    Robert 6 years ago

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar
    Andrew 6 years ago

    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.

  • comment-avatar
    Mullah_Kintyre 6 years ago

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    Andrew — interesting comment. All we hear from the Rogers people is that they are committed to the Jays, and that the NHL deal won’t have any impact on Rogers’ other sports properties. This off-season makes that claim wildly implausible. The only reasonable way to explain AA passing up the free agent pitchers is that he doesn’t have the money.

    I doubt that TSN is going to benefit in the way you suggest from losing out on the NHL, but I guess time will tell. I’m also curious about your idea that there is a rift within MLSE. If the NHL deal is hamstringing Rogers in terms of liquidity, but Bell wants to spend money that Rogers doesn’t have, then that would indeed cause a rift. I wonder how long this alliance will last. The NHL deal might mark the beginning of the end, but I cannot see how they could dissolve things cleanly.

    Lastly, I wrote about this issue a few weeks back. The MLBPA is now publicly grumbling about the broken compensation system for free agents. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/02/mlbpas-clark-concerned-about-qualifying-offers.html

  • comment-avatar
    Reality 6 years ago

    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!

  • comment-avatar

    I don’t usually enjoy the goof-bros who do late nights and weekends on the FAN but one or both of them did a great job interviewing Mats Sundin and Borje Salming after the game today. Good questions and great answers. Very unique interview. I suppose a lot of credit should go to the producer as we’ll for putting that together.

  • comment-avatar
    sam in oshawa 6 years ago

    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…

  • comment-avatar

    @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?

  • comment-avatar

    the cherry is officially on top: Rosenthal is reporting that Boras is publicly calling Rogers cheap.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/rosenthal-boras-takes-jays-ownership-to-task-022314

    $5 to the charity of choice for the 1st reporter to ask AA how many wins he expects from this roster. $5 more for the same question asked (and answered) of Wilner/Buck/Tabby/Jamie/the rest of the house reporters.

  • comment-avatar

    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?

  • comment-avatar
  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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/

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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

  • comment-avatar

    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

  • comment-avatar

    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).

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    d – I’m not arguing they should be spending for the sake of spending. I’m arguing that there were options in the FA market to improve the team. Deciding not to pursue them on grounds of financial parameters means they are wasting the money they spent last year.

    In an ideal world the money they spent last year would have been sufficient to get them to the playoffs. But, we learned in 2013 that this roster falls short of that goal. Deciding not to spend any more money makes last year’s expenditure incoherent.

    Game this out with me:

    1) suppose they are 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break. It will then be too late to go out and do anything to improve the team via trade. Instead, the rational thing would be to sell your assets and start over. This roster will have proven two years in a row that it cannot compete.

    2) suppose they are around .500 and looking to make a playoff run in the 2nd half. You are now competing with all the other teams in a similar situation to make trades. This is going to cost you prospects that you would not needed to spend on a FA pitcher.

    3) They are leading the division and looking good. Now you are definitely going to want to solidify the roster for a chance at the World Series. You are now going to spend prospects for the chance to win now.

    My point is that under any of these scenarios you would wish that you had improved the team via free agency. The choice not to do so is inexplicable if the money is there from ownership.

  • comment-avatar

    p.s. – driving out of Ontario on Monday morning I tuned in to a very enjoyable discussion with Macko & Landsberg discussing how the euphoria surrounding Canada’s success at the Games seems to have muted discussion of the very real political and social problems in Russia.

    Landsberg’s point was that if the media wants to call these Games a success for Sochi then they have to be willing to discuss all the issues, not just the fact that the buildings didn’t fall down. He was arguing that once we open the door to evaluating the Games then everything about the Games is fair game. If people don’t want to discuss those issues, then we should be silent on calling the Games a success.

    I don’t really have a stance on his argument, but it was a good intelligent discussion. I had forgotten how good Macko can be in these kinds of debates (he was the only redeeming aspect of the awful Cybulski show). He’s very measured and avoids easy and dumb arguments in favour of more nuanced points. I don’t usually enjoy Landsberg, but this was very good radio.

  • comment-avatar

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    Daniel — did Blair/Brunt indicate how they are in a position to make this claim that the money is there?

    I presume the answer is “AA/Beeston said so”, but does anyone really believe that they would say otherwise? Like, if it is true that Rogers has said “no new payroll beyond expected raises” would AA/Beeston actually tell us?

  • comment-avatar
    Steve 6 years ago

    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.

  • comment-avatar

    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).

  • comment-avatar

    Lott is reporting that Blair was telling his listeners that Encarnacion didn’t want to play 1B anymore. Apparently reporters asked Encarnacion for comment, to which he replied “I never said that.”

    http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/02/27/toronto-blue-jays-edwin-encarnacion-denies-report-hed-rather-not-play-first-base/

    Did anyone listen to the relevant segments from Blair? It seems odd that Blair would throw that out there without asking the player to confirm or deny. Seems like journalism 101, though maybe not Talk Radio 101.