Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sometimes, talk isn't cheap

There's something to be said for cheering for a rebuilding ballclub. In a way, it's much easier than pulling for teams like today's Yankees or Red Sox - or even the '92-'93 Blue Jays. Teams like that are built to win - expected to win - the World Series, and anything less is complete and abject failure. Each loss is magnified, and maniacal paranoia sets in (see Sam Horn, Sons of). The disgusting sense of entitlement is another unfortunate sidebar (think pinstripes).

Then there's the flip side of the coin - teams like the Royals and Pirates - who attempt to fool their fanbase (more and more unsuccessfully as the seasons pass) under the guise of rebuilding....when really all that's happening is a revolving-door roster of shitty, low cost - but young! - players who never seem to live up to the marginal expectations the organization really has for them.

Perhaps the worst of all is the team stuck in the middle: 75 to 85 win clubs stocked with relatively unexciting players; good enough to compete but not enough to win. These teams typically have no real vision and can't decide whether to tear the fucker down or sell out for a shot. Sound familiar?

No, if you're going to rebuild, you have to go all in. You have to trade away your franchise player who you won't be able to re-sign (check). You have to commit to youth and development, even if it means sacrificing current results for future gains (check). You have to have leadership with vision (check). And you have to have ownership committed to that vision (um....).

Until today, Blue Jay fans (post -'93) could never say for certain we've had that. Until today, we've only had Paul Beeston (bless 'em) paying lip service with quotes like "the money from ownership is there when we need it". You can forgive us, Paul (can I call him Paul? Because I just did...), if we're just a little jaded about the whole "the money is there" thing when we've seen players out there begging to be signed (below market) who would have filled holes quite nicely....only to have the team pass. And let's not regurgitate the whole 2009 draft discussion. Nobody wins in that argument (right, James Paxton?). Point being, since Ted Rogers' passing, we haven't heard much from ownership, and we certainly haven't seen much to get excited about.

But today, things might have just changed. For me, anyway. The Star's Dave Perkins caught my attention with the headline blasting "Ownership will spare no expense to win the World Series". My immediate reaction? "Yeah, right". Then I read the article. I read how Nadir Mohamed flew down to address the team - face to face - and proclaim that "the ultimate goal is the World Series and that the organization will do – and spend – what is necessary to get there again." More lip service? Maybe. But Mohamed is quite clearly a successful CEO, and to boldly address the team in such a manner with no intentions on following through wouldn't exactly set much of a precedent, with his employees or the fans.

In a follow up article focusing on Mohamed, we find more golden nuggets like "It's a commitment, we've made the commitment and we're going to make it happen"....and "We know what the team means (to Toronto)," Mohamed said. "We're here to make it work. We feel we have the best men for the job in Paul and Alex. I'm excited."....and possibly my personal favorite quote (hey, I'm a finance nerd), "One of the top execs in the organization has off-handedly remarked that Blue Jay losses, within the Rogers empire, amount to "a rounding error.""

Now, maybe I can be accused of being a sucker, easily fooled. That argument is probably not without merit. But holy shit, I think I'm excited about the future of this team.

Maybe someday, sooner than later, we'll be saying "Playoffs!" and actually meaning it. And that aint nothin', my friends.


bkblades said...

Wow, I'm not a finance nerd at all and I also found that quote about the Blue Jays being more than a financial teat to Rogers boner-worthy. Nails, Ack.

Never thought I would extol the virtues of "Building" whence it was first uttered.

dave said...


mike in boston said...

put the content of this post in your calendar program for one year from today, and then see how many top tier FAs they signed.

the team only has about 35 million committed for 2011. they will have holes to fill. the proof will be in the pudding.

Anonymous said...

sure about that Mike? Vernon maikng what 23 mill next year and the rest equals 35 ? If that's the case than AA mouthing off about Pujols is not wishful thinking.....

Ty said...

Adam Lind locked up through 2016 -- looks like they're putting their money where their mouth is.

Jim Briggs said...

Dirk was on NPR's On Point this week. Pretty nice interview.

Jim Briggs said...

nice aside from "the cool dudes on the pitcher's mound" intro, that is.

mike in boston said...

Jim Briggs said...

Interesting looking (via the Cot's link) at what comes off the book next year:
Lyle 7MM
Roy 10MM
Downs 4MM
Encarnacion 4.75MM

One can see how finances dictate that this year be the "building" year.

It'd look like Vernon is going to sink us with his $10.5MM jump in salary, but he's actually "only" going to cost $2MM more in 2011 since his bonus was actually split into two easy payments and one difficult payment of $8.5MM each (thanks, Mitch Hedberg) from 2008-10.

So, theoretically speaking, you've got $16MM in dead money that opens up payroll "space" 2011, an additional net gain of $6MM or so with Lyle gone and Wallace taking his place, and Downs and Encarnacion freeing up another 8.75MM. Depending on E5's year, this looks like a pivotal year for the 3B prospects that the Jays have, who haven't been all that impressive so far. Downs is a nice piece but very replaceable and getting older.

That's theoretically $30MM or so to play with JUST if the team stays at the same salary levels, maybe $20MM adjusting for Lind and Wells' raises and small raises for controllable players. That's plenty to invest in a SS and/or 3B and maybe a veteran pitcher.

With Wallace arriving, Snider hopefully coming into his own, a suddenly deeper catching prospect corps and a new manager in town next year, you have to like the team's chances in the future. I like the chances even better if Rogers is willing to add pieces.

eyebleaf said...

Fantastic post, Ack. I think that's why this season's opener means so much more to all of is. It truly might be the start of something special.