We're a couple of days late in posting something on the news that the Jays' emergency backup catcher for life and alternate mascot John McDonald opted not to return to Toronto. We're sure most everything has been said that needs to be said about it, but allow us to redirect the conversation in our own verbose manner.
Mostly, we hope that Jays fans see this as a good thing for all parties. Johnny Mac gets two more years of employment, and on a National League club, he'll have more opportunities to enter games as a pinch hitter/bunter/pinch runner/defensive replacement/double-switched-in warm body. And depending on the dodgy health of Stephen Drew or the D-Backs' ability to find a decent second baseman, he might get to start far more games than he would have playing in the guts of the American League East.
Given the level of competition the Jays face, the sentimentalism that might have brought McDonald back on a one-year deal would clearly not have been enough to get him the second year. The competitive imperative is dictating that the Jays improve on the four or five bench/utility players, and McDonald's tremendous defensive gifts could not overshadow the weakness of his bat.
In other words: If you love Johnny Mac, set him free.
The other side of this story is that given a clear-eyed look at it, it's surprising the extent to which we all took it as a fait accompli that McDonald would waltz back to the Jays following the season. One of the adjustments that will need to be made by Jays fans (and frankly, the media who cover them) is not to read too much into the some of the nicely bland assurances that come from Alex Anthopoulos or Paul Beeston. This new regime has a nomadic approach to their operational logic, which is to say that on principle, they refuse to settle on anything until they've settled on it, and they're not going to provide you with a self-imposed orthodoxy to which they can be held.
On a certain level, that's really pretty brilliant.
Other Off-Seasonal Greetings
The Blue Jays did about as well by Adam Loewen as a franchise could, allowing him to build himself into a position player with Quad-A abilities, and showcasing him at the major league level at the season's conclusion. We're not sure that the Jays owed him a spot on the 25-man roster, nor an opportunity to clutter the left field equation for 2012. The Jays might be able to re-sign him as a minor league free agent and put him on the Mike McCoy Shuttle Program, though we're sure that Loewen will want to exhaust all other avenues first.
The news (gleaned from Bob Elliot's Twitter) that the Jays are looking to bring in Chuck LaMar as a senior scout is good news from our point of view. Though his work as the GM in Tampa Bay at the dawn of the Devil Rays could be criticized, there's at least some evidence (especially in Jonah Keri's The Extra 2%) that the ownership of the team imposed itself on baseball operations to the detriment of the franchise.