Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

 photo: The Sun/bad strategy

 

by mike in boston – @mikeinboston – hatemailaccount gmail com

 

Way too much to cover since my last post so please feel free to add any interesting links or items for discussion in the comments. 

 

JaysTalk – Anthopoulos

 

Michael Grange had a column this week arguing that AA has earned the right to continue as Jays GM.  (warning – Sportsnet usually auto-plays ads with sound. I have adblocked the hell out of the site. Click at your own risk). I fundamentally disagree with his argument, though not necessarily with his conclusion. It’s a good read and makes for a good discussion. Let’s go:

 

“The Blue Jays are 138-149 since flipping the switch in 2013. They were never in the playoff race a year ago and now, after going 4-10 so far in August, they look like a long shot at even earning the second wild card spot in the American League. It’s not much of a return for $260 million or so in payroll.”

 

Right. These are the facts.

 

“But even as the Blue Jays look likely to miss the playoffs for the second time in what Anthopoulos and Beeston described as a three-year window to contend, the current roster is a better argument for Anthopoulos returning than him getting the boot.”

 

The roster is not winning. We just agreed that those are the fact. Yet the roster that is losing more games than they are winning over the last 2 seasons is also evidence of his success? Interesting. How do you figure?

 

“What level of commitment Rogers provides him (or his replacement) to work with is the wild card. Beeston has said the club’s payroll will increase for 2015, but what if it doesn’t? That’s not Anthopoulos’s call, yet he’s shown he can manage on a budget.”

 

Grange goes on to cite the team friendly contracts to JB and EE, the rise of some of the young pitching, and a few other things. All of that is true but at the end of the day, what exactly has he shown he can manage (on a top 10 budget)? Oh, right, that thing we agreed on earlier: a losing record.

 

This is a classic example of shifting the goalposts. Grange is arguing the team is well set up to win … later. He’s saying that even if they don’t win this year, and didn’t win last year, AA has done some good things for the future. We’re back to selling hope — the coin of the Jays’ realm for most of the last 20 years — rather than focusing on the missed opportunity this season. (Jeff Blair started shifting discussion to next year’s rotation about a month ago.)

 

“Steady, disciplined and patient aren’t adjectives that are as easily crafted into a saleable image, but they are the qualities that make for a good executive. Anthopoulos has them and going forward the Blue Jays are going to need plenty of all of those attributes, which is why he deserves the chance to extend his run.”

 

This point is not argued for at all in the piece. And it needs to be. Yes, not trading Sanchez looks like patience. But we don’t  know that AA was allowed to make trades for major leaguers at the deadline. So it’s hard to credit him with patience for making no trades of consequence all season. Furthermore, his last signature trade was not patient. Patience would have been waiting to see how the team performs in 2013 before trading his top prospect for Dickey. Patince would have been trading for a rental player that would not have cost so many prospects instead. That trade was a mistake in both conception and execution and it has not yielded a good enough return.

 

I’m not arguing AA should be fired. I think that this team can make a run for it next year, if Bautista and EE decide not to ask for trades and if they manage to land a #1 pitcher who can pitch 200 innings at a consistent quality. But if this team is going to rebuild then I would rather someone other than AA be given the job. His performance is not miles better than Riccardi’s over a similar amount of time, and with a much bigger budget.

 

So I disagree with Grange’s logic here. The roster has both strengths and weaknesses. AA has not done any one thing beyond reproach – drafting, developing, trading, scouting, spending – and that leaves open the discussion of whether someone else might do better.

 

JaysTalk – Beeston

 

Shi Davidi had a nice scoop about the possibility of Beeston retiring at the end of this season.

 

All I can say is please, please, please let this happen. This organization is addicted to the past. Cito was brought back. Beeston was brought back. Gibbons was brought back. Time to turn the page for good.

 

“One possible scenario if Beeston doesn’t return is for the new president to assess Anthopoulos first-hand in 2015 before deciding whether or not to extend him again. That would follow a similar pattern to what happened with Ricciardi when Beeston took over from Godfrey.”

 

This is what I expect will happen. We will get one more year of AA + Gibbons and then a house-cleaning of both management and players in fall 2015. I expect the 2016 roster will be a massive youth movement. The main question for right now is: what Rogers does with the Jays’ payroll for next year?

 

Budgetary constraints will end up defining this season. From the embarrassing salary deferral story during spring training to the lack of money at the trade deadline, this year has been one of the most frustrating for Jays watchers. I can easily see Rogers leaving the cap at $130 but I can just as easily see them dropping it to $100. If that happens then the division crown will again be but a dream, and the team may or may not compete for the chance at a 1 game play in. Then we can have a discussion about which player will have wasted more talent here, Halladay or Bautista.

 

In fact, that’s a pretty good question for Toronto sports fans generally: which player do you feel deserved better than to spend his prime years playing in Toronto? Sundin has to be pretty high on that list.

 

Quick Hits

 

The Bertuzzi settlement means no day in court. Good read here by the Globe’s Gary Mason. Like many people, I was hoping to see the NHL code put on trial and am sad that won’t happen. I have to wonder if Moore’s statements about wanting his day in court and this “not being about the money” were sincere, or a bargaining tactic, or both. The deal is not finalized so who knows, maybe there is another twist coming.

 

Cohon leaving as CFL commish. Good read here. The league seems to be doing well everywhere except Toronto, but that situation seems more hopeless than ever. Cohon seemed great at his job and I haven’t read anything that satisfactorily explains why he is leaving. Does anyone have any educated guesses? (see next item)

 

Leiweke leaving MLSE. To be honest, I care less about this story than I thought I would. It’s a mixed bag. Rick Westhead talks about potential replacements featuring lots of quotes from the often quotable Richard Peddie. Westhead also has an exclusive on doping in CIS. (I’m going to let this story breathe a bit before commenting on it.)

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Thankfully someone else is keeping track of what stupid things Simmons is up to on Twitter. I’ll say this again: Steve, you are great on TSN radio and terrible at everything else you do. Please consider retiring from writing and TV.

 

  • I’ve been listening to Brady without Walker and enjoying it more than I thought I would. Brady is actually quite funny most of the time.

 

  • Arash Madani’s star seems to be rising at Sportsnet. He is getting bigger stories and more airtime. What do people think of the quality of his work? I mostly know him from his marginal role on Jays broadcasts.

 

  • good first column by Bruce Arthur’s replacement, Scott Stinson.

 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (in boston)

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