Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Catching Up - Is This It?...And Other Imponderables

Having cut ourselves off from the trickle of news for the past few days, it's time to examine the droplets that have just managed to cover the bottom of our cup whilst we were out of data range.

The End of the Winter: It's difficult for us to get a decent read on yesterday's conference call with the GM, given that we picked up on it via a handful of tweets that came blasting into our mobile device once we re-entered cell range. There was a tone of resignation that came across in some the subsequent reports, with Alex Anthopoulos seemingly admitting that there wasn't much left that the Jays could reasonably accomplish, while at the same hinting that there's more that he'd like to do.

To us, the most salient quote that we read from yesterday's chinwag (as conveyed by Sportsnet.ca's Mike Cormack) was this:

"There are a lot of things we could have done this past off-season to say that we did it, but I don’t think they would have been good timing or good trades for us…I think they would have been bad."

While there are still some fans who have visions of "proven" "big bats" dancing in their heads, we appreciate the discipline that the front office is demonstrating at this point. They seem to know that there are improvements that could be made in a few areas, but they're not going to allow themselves to operate "on tilt", making dumb moves for the sake of "showing something to the fans". That's how teams end up trading for Vernon Wells. Or how someone is going to find the rationale to acquire Alfonso Soriano.

We realize prudence and forbearance aren't the things that are going to get those who are exclusively focused on a playoff berth revved up for the new season, but we've started to realize that those kids are never going to be happy, so trying to satiate their unending desire to spend someone else's money is a losing battle.

Sneaky Bullpen Signings: Even with their impressive numbers, Sergio Santos' and Darren Oliver's names were nowhere to be seen on the wish lists of fans at the conclusion of the season. And yet, those additions, along with the repatriation of Jason Frasor, will give the Blue Jays a much stronger and deeper bullpen.

Santos, Oliver and Frasor will be joined by a number of intriguing bullpen options, including Casey Janssen, Carlos Villaneuva, Joel Carreno, Jesse Litsch and Luis Perez. Moreover, there are a number of fringe arms that have the potential to contribute next season, including Trystan Magnuson (quietly reacquired in November from Oakland), Danny Farquhar and Alan Farina may fill in where injuries or performance necessitate changes.

The bullpen was probably the most glaring area in need of a fix coming into the offseason, and it appears as though the Jays have managed to find solutions for 2012. And as someone who was not always a fan of John Farrell's bullpen management last year, we'll be interested to see how he acquits himself with a stronger collection of arms at his disposal.

As for the line that was tossed about concerning Darren Oliver's league-leading intangible awesomeness in the clubhouse and his recording-setting camaraderie, the line that kept running through our head as we read those remarks were: "He has a great personality." Which is not the sort of praise about which we get excited.

Jays in Ottawa: It's somewhat well know that we make our home in the national capital, and while we weren't around for the arrival of the Winter Caravan this weekend, we were impressed with the turnout of Blue Jays fans who flocked to a local mall and lined up for hours to meet their heroes.

There's a nice video summation of the trip on the Blue Jays' website, though those who are fans of Toronto pro hockey franchise might want to avert their eyes about midway through, when the boys sport the Ottawa Senators' nifty retro jerseys. (And even if our loyalties lean towards our hometown team, we'll give J.P. Arencibia credit for demonstrating a certain amount of discomfort at wearing the uniform of his beloved #TeamUnit's rivals.)

We'd probably be getting way ahead of ourselves to hope that this augurs well for the return of an affiliated minor league team to the Capital, since support on a single winter's day doesn't mean that you'll be able to sell 250,000 tickets per year. Still, an Ottawa baseball fan can dream.


The Ack said...

Yo Tao:

I've been kinda sorta biting my tongue on this (if sarcasticly implying via the Twitter can be considered biting ones tongue), but I really don't get your indignation and disdain for those (present company included) who hold the viewpoint that getting "in the game" and taking a run at a big-time middle of the order bat would be a prudent move at this stage in the Jays' roster development.

The team does not appear to be that far off, and if such a bat can be had on a 5 or 6 year deal, doesn't that fit the mold of sustained success? Of course that's such an easy disclaimer for me to throw out, b/c if Prince signs an 8 year monster contract elsewhere, the point is moot. But you don't even seem open to that scenario of a shorter-term/higher $ per annum deal if it can be had.

To me, the "spending other people's money" chiding would hold much more water if the team was spending even north of $85M on payroll.... not toiling in the $60's and $70's.

I suppose it sticks in my craw a little (old timey!) to implicitly suggest I might be less of a fan (or an idiot) for disagreeing with the general message set forth by the team's front office this winter.

Tao of Stieb said...

I hear you, old friend.

I guess it can come off that way, and maybe I'm just sick of being heckled as an apologist/lackey for defending the resistance to a "big splash". So I'm thinking of the jerks and meatheads who advocate for the big deal.

I guess I just hate putting that much money for all those years into one player. Eventually, that's going to come back on you, and you're going to have already made a choice between locking up a young talent (Lawrie, Rasmus, Hutchison, Alvarez) and spending big on one guy in the hopes that he's the magic elixir that gets you two or three more wins.

And there's a strong undercurrent to the comments I've received that says "they can afford to make a terrible deal". Which I fundamentally don't agree with.

I guess the thing is that if "that last piece of the puzzle that's going to put you over the top" comes with a $150 million-$200 million price tag, it's not a small piece, and you're not that close.

Moreover, I'd rather bet on Adam Lind to improve by 2-3 wins this year than bet on Prince.

And make no mistake: Fielder, great though he may be, is no sure thing to continue to produce.

The Ack said...

One thing I've been thinking about lately with regards to the team's apparent stance on free agency is... why ever lock up your own players to long-term extensions then? Isn't there the same inherent risk of failure with "homegrown" players falling off a cliff as there is with an established star who would command a big FA contract underproducing?

I'd say history with this franchise show us that there is, and they were saved by the team option component of Hill's deal (but would you still do Lind's deal given the last few years of evidence?).

And maybe that's the argument then - locking up players through their arb years and into their first years of FA eligibility mitigates the risk because the players will trade the FA upside for the security of guaranteed money now. So fuck throwing money at free agents.

And that is definitely a prudent approach for organizations operating on limited budgets - hell, for all organizations regardless of budgets.

But if that's going to be the hard template, then let's stop pretending that the Toronto Blue Jays are going to act like the big market team many (not the least of which, Paul Beeston) claim the organization can be/will be/is.

The "last piece of the puzzle" thing has also got me pondering.... if you wait until you miss the playoffs by a game or two to add that player, isn't that kind of a self-defeating stance?

Ty said...

For what it's worth, Ack, when I've asked most pro-spending fans which non-Fielder free agents they wish the team had signed this offseason, the names have gone from reasonable-but-underwhelming (Erik Bedard) to outrageously stupid (Josh Willingham). In pretty much all cases I think AA's quote holds true: there are a lot of things they could have done to show that they can spend if they want to, but would they really have made the team better?

In the short- and long-term, I really can't think of any free agents out there (currently or already signed by someone else) who I wish AA had gone for. Beyond Fielder - who I agree would be great on a 5- or even 6-year deal, but who will almost undoubtedly get more than that elsewhere - are there any specific players you would have targeted this offseason if you were AA?

MK Piatkowski said...

I can't shake the feeling that a long-term Prince deal could turn out like Vernon did. Vernon got hurt and was never the same. Who's to say that can't happen to Prince? A lot of people clamouring for the Prince deal were the same people who turned on Vernon. I appreciate AA's caution. I also believe in Lind - this year will bear out whether that is justified or not.

I also agree that a lot of things need to break right to make it happen this year. If it does, I'm sure AA will make big splashes at the trade deadline. He's said all along that he needs the team to show him they're ready. So let them do it.

I also question the idea that because our brethren in the AL East have done nothing means they're ripe for the taking. The BoSox still have the team (minus the jerk closer) they had last year when everyone was pegging them to run away with everything. Are they going to get decimated by injuries again this year? Highly doubt it. Rays still have their awesome pitching staff and Longoria. The Yankees still have that strong bullpen and power lineup. Yes, they're aging but not everyone is going to go downhill. It's still going to be a dogfight.

So in the end, I trust in AA. I was around the first go-around and remember what it took to build a winner. It doesn't happen overnight. But all the off-season moves, as modert as they seemed, have made the team stronger or added depth. How is that a bad thing?

Tao of Stieb said...

Oh, the Beeston quote. How I wish he'd never said it. It's like a bottomless can of gas to throw onto the pyre.

I think, looking back, that I never bought into that line about the team spending to that $120 million figure. Or I at least understood that spending by the team would follow revenue growth, and I'm not sure that the modest gains they've made over the past few years are enough to open up the fiscal floodgates.

So maybe that's why I wasn't waiting with baited breath for the big money to get spent this offseason.

I guess for me, the question is this: Is spending money the only way for the Jays to prove that they're making progress? Because if you look at the past 24 months, and how much positive change there has been in the realm of the coaching staff, the approach to the international market, the aggressive approach to the draft and some really smart trades to bring in young players, I have a hard time getting on the front office's case because of one giant bad contract that they seem unwilling to even consider.

As for the point about locking up your own players, those sorts of contracts are some of the smarter ones in baseball. Once a player hits the open market, the big money deals are inevitably bad deals that you hope to be able to stomach.

There's been so much positive, and this team is light years ahead of where it was in January 2010. I don't want to see them scrap this smart approach for one guy.

MK Piatkowski said...

Ack, just to address the "last piece of the puzzle", last time it was adding heavy hitters on the latter half of their careers on lucrative short-term deals. Honestly, even with the way deals have changed, I can't see why that can't happen again. Or maybe the "last piece of the puzzle" is that in-season trade for a short-term rental. All that requires is being in the hunt at the trade deadline. I see no evidence that this team would not do those things.

The Ack said...

@ Ty, MKP.... see that's the thing. I'm loathe to be tagged with a "pro-spending" label. And outside of Prince, yeah, your'e right, probably not much out there (though I was pro-Yu, even if deep down I know it's foolish). I want impact or nothing at this point.

It seems like the team has been stuck in the sand all winter and other than solidifying the bullpen (which is huge), is relying entirely on organic growth to jump the standings. "We won't get involved in FA deals of 5+ years"...."The cost of prospects in the trade market is too high"....

You've said so yourself... the Yankees, Sox, and Rays aren't going away. Do you feel like the team has enough now to gain ground? Why wait until the proverbial "next year" to start being bold?.... again, like you said, it's not like the Yanks/Sox/Rays are magically going to be bad organizations in 2013 and beyond. And if they start to fall apart, the Yanks and Sox have the resources to change things in a hurry. The Rays have another wave of youth coming.

None of those teams were players for the big names this winter. It won't be any easier to sign impact players next winter or trade for them at the deadline when other contenders are lining up at the same queue.

@ Tao.... first of all, my knuckles are not hairy.

And it's more than the Beeston quote (though that is the match that started the fire), it's everything that's come from AA and Beeston. Anthopoulos very carefully dropped the "payroll parameter" line of thinking at the Winter Meetings, then was indignant when pressed on it a day later.

Anthopoulos himself said at the end of the season he wanted to solidify the bullpen and 2B (check), add a front-line starter (not yet), and a middle of the order bat (not yet).

How can that qualify as anything but a disappointing offseason from anyone's perspective, let alone the fans?

MK Piatkowski said...

@ Ack, short answer, yes I believe we can gain ground. I believe our starter will be better, our defense will be better, our bullpen will be better. Our offense was already pretty kick-ass. I also liked the idea of Yu but didn't see anyone else on the market that appealed considering all the young bucks in our system that continue to improve. If we could get Fielder for 5 years, I'd be behind that too but you know Boras won't let that happen.

As for trade, part of having that great minor-league system is that it gives us good trading chips. So I'm not worried about getting what we need should we really need it.

Tao of Stieb said...

I'll grant you that it is disappointing that they didn't get the the starter and the middle of the order hitter. Though the flip side of this is that I'm relieved they didn't try to make deals that would appear to fill those round holes with smaller, less impressive round pegs.

I still think there are things brewing, and there's a chance to get another bat or arm, though I'm very happy to give Snider/Thames another run at the LF job and EE the full-time DH job (with some starts at 1B versus LHP) and see how the first two months play out.

I know how feeble it sounds: "I don't think they've done enough, but I don't want them to do something more just for the sake of doing it." I don't want Alfonso Soriano's contract just to check that box.

Maybe the point is that I don't think that 2012 is THE YEAR. And I'll be happy with 85-90 wins this season, leading into big years '13,'14 and '15.

It's not terribly palatable, and certainly not something around which you can write compelling ad copy. Hopefully, the results speak for themselves.

The Ack said...

The thing about all this is that I readily acknowledge that it is ridiculously easy to play armchair GM, advocating for this and that and piss and moan about the other without having any knowledge whatsoever about what is really the fuck going on behind the scenes.

Please don't misinterpet my questioning of this offseason as "turning" on AA. There's still nobody else I'd rather have guiding the personnel moves of the Blue Jays.

But while I'm not waving placards calling out the ownership, I'm at least starting to question the willingness to spend competitively. Last word being the key one. I think I've moved into show me/don't tell me phase.

@ MK - the days of bringing in a Paul Molitor on a one year deal are done. Different times, different CBA. Toronto and the Skydome were the place to be in the early 90's, today? Let's not kid ourselves here. Sure, you can maybe trade for those guys if you're in the hunt at the trade deadline.... but competing against everyone else on the market, and now you're gutting your system for a rental. That most definitely does not fit AA's mandate of "sustained success".

@ Tao... careful now, you've just set yourself up for finger pointing having mentioned big years coming in '13, '14, '15. To which I ask... what's the difference between that and those who expected '12?

MK Piatkowski said...

@ Ack But isn't that part of the point? Until the team shows that they are the place to be, why would big name free agents want to be here? There's many cases of elite players turning down more money to play for a contender. Build a contender, attract elite FAs.

The system is strong enough that you wouldn't be gutting it with one trade. And that's what I'm talking about.

BTW, Molitor was a 3-year deal.

The Ack said...

"Many cases"? Really? I'm not (intentionally) trying to be a prick, but please do tell.... it's almost always about the dollars today. And Toronto will almost certainly never be considered "the favorite" in the AL East race even if players are choosing based on who's seen as a contender.

Yeah, mea culpa on Molitor/3 yr deal, had Winfield in my head.

MK Piatkowski said...

Cliff Lee. Roy Halladay.

Anonymous said...


Like you I never put much stock into the $120mm number put out by Beeston or Mcowan. I don't see the logic as to why Rogers should spend its money from other divisions on the Blue Jays, as I never really saw that type of revenue associated with the Blue Jays. However the facts have changed and so should our opinion.

The value of the exclusive Blue Jays content is now a core anchor for Sportsnet's brand-building and the ratings prove it. Further, HDTV, internet and wireless streaming have changed the game when it comes to content value for advertisers. The Angels old TV deal was $50mm per year, now its $150mm. The Rangers (probably our closest comp from a market-size perspective) was $20mm per year its now $80mm. Even the Nats which split a mid-market with the Orioles are now $60mm from $20mm. With over 500k viewers per game, the Jays TV ratings are better that ALL of those team's broadcasts and have a NATIONAL, instead of regional reach, which is very valuable for advertisers. The value that the Blue Jays generates for Rogers on an annual basis is likely now WELL north of $120mm, including the media content, in-game revenues, and Sportsnet brand-building. Beeston and Nadir Mohammed should be telling AA that $100mm is now the FLOOR to spend on baseball related salaries, including draft and scouting. I'm not making any specific suggestion here as I realize that some FA's may not want to come here. But certainly trades where AA takes back a bad contract such as Teahan are likely out there and I trust AA to maximize whatever budget he is given. I just think Rogers is not putting back into the team anything close to market value for what the team is creating for Rogers in the new media age.

The Ack said...

Anonymous just said what I've been trying to sort out in my head.... I'd like to see what value the Jays *really* add to Rogers, aside from what well-crafted financial statements will tell you based on seats sold and an arbitrary value assigned to broadcast rights & advertising. I have my doubts they'd reflect a market rate "transfer" from Sportsnet to the Jays, for example.

But I do realize that all the bellyachin' in the world isn't going to change Nadir's opinion on how much of that to give back to AA in terms of "payroll parameters".

@ MK.... leave Doc out of this. No fair. And I believe the narrative around Cliff Lee when he signed with the Phils is he may have left more gross dollars in terms of another year or two on the table, but the Phils offer presented the highest $ per annum.

You listening, Prince?

Ty said...

Ack: CJ Wilson is a good example too. The Marlins reportedly offered something around $90 million and he took $75 million to play in Anaheim instead.

Mez said...

Is anybody surprised that Fielder hasn't signed yet? The Angels and Rangers are done, the Yans and Bosox are trying to act disciplined but there should be 5-6 other teams in position to offer 6-10 year deal. Been thinking the Braun PED allegations coud be giving GMs reason for pause as nobody wants a multi year stiff if Fielder was using. PED users often travel in packs.

Naomi said...

CJ Wilson is a bad example, I think he was not interested in pretending to be an ace in a division featuring Roy Halladay, Steven Strasburg, Tim Hudson and a potentially returned Johan Santana. CJ was already with a team that is built to win the WS and left for the Angels before he knew that Pujols was coming on board.

Ack, thanks for vocalizing what many of us have been feeling.

I will boil it down to this myself. It feels that Rogers Corporation only cares about the PNL statement of the Jays and ensuring that it remains in the black regardless of what that means to the team and its fans. It is an ugly side of the business of baseball, but a team can be profitable by being bottom feeders.

I am not a fan of a team based on its profitability, and the days of following a team for the love of a player are mostly gone (unless you are a Braves or Rockies fan). Most fans want to see the team they follow to be successful. Toronto just doesn't have the same ability as Brooklyn did to have fans be proud of their "bums".

Eventualy, some fans are going to come to the conclusion (right or wrong), that being a fan of the Jays only serves to enrich the shareholders of RCI, but will not enrich their lives in the way that sports is meant to, and they will move on.

Ty said...

Not to nitpick, but didn't Wilson sign after Pujols? And he left Texas because they weren't interested in paying him anything near market value for him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ack, it's taken me some digging to try and sort this out myself, but the new media deals being signed are clearly impacting the market this offseason, and here we are with a 70mm payroll and AA has to worry about "payroll parameters". 70mm is on the conservative side of what the market is saying just the TV rights for the Blue Jays are worth. I didn't even mention that the value of the team itself has gone up $25mm per year since Rogers bought it which should be included in the equation. As a former insider, I can tell you that prior to the salary cap, OTPP was happy to run the Leafs EBITDA-neutral, with the understanding that the rising value of the team would result in their ultimate profit. The recent data points make it clear that Rogers does not have the foresight to similarly invest Jays related value creation back into the team and are tying one hand behind AA's back.

plain_g said...

my 2 cents: i think predicting how a season will play out is so difficult that you need to kind of go for it every year, especially in the al east. i don't think anyone expected the bosox pitching staff would suck and that c-craw would be a total bust last year, but it happened. is this the year something else wacky happens? and as for fielder, the market is soft, there's no one in the pipeline to block, bautista is currently the best hitter in baseball (for how many more years?) and he's only 27 yet has avged 282/390/540/930 32hr 94 rbi over 6 full seasons. who else has that kind of a resume at that age? miggy cabrera?

MK Piatkowski said...

@plain_g Remember that Fielder is a Boras client. Do you really think that Boras isn't trying to make a team overpay? That is what he does. Would you really be happy with a really expensive, really long contract in 4 or 5 years?

Let's put the payroll parameters speech in context, shall we? It came after a winter meeting where all the media and probably quite a few agents were certain that AA would just break the bank and spend stupid money. Isn't it possible that AA was so tired of that perception that he wanted to make a public statement to that effect? Of course he has parameters. Hell, Cashman has parameters.

We have NO evidence that Rogers is restricting AA in any way. That's all rampant speculation. I'm sick of all the bitching about how low the payroll is. Do we still want Vernon on it? Or Rivera? Or Teahan? It's low because the majority of the team is young. How is that evidence that Rogers is cheap? Because AA won't blow his brains out overpaying for a free agent? I'm glad we didn't spend stupid money on a closer. I like that we aren't locked into a player for more than 5 years. It's just being smart, not stingy.

Anonymous said...


Yes all teams have payroll parameters but they bear a relation to the value the team brings to the owner. Cashman has payroll parameters from a base of $170mm. We are at $70mm and there is no way that the Jays aren't adding nearly double that in value to Rogers annually. AA has mentioned the phrase payroll parameters in virtually every interview he has done for the past 6 weeks, it was not a one time shot. IF it was just a smokescreen aimed at agents, then that should show itself by the trade deadline at the latest in the form of another big bat and front end starter which he and Farrell have stated they want to add to compete this year. Beeston needs to be fighting tooth and nail to make sure AA has the money he needs NOW to add the pieces he wants. I hope I'm wrong but the balance of evidence says otherwise.

Steve G. said...

Speaking as a Sox fan, I kind of agree with the Jays hanging back - I don't really view them as a couple players or a Prince Fielder-level bat away from threatening the Sox, Yankees and Rays. That pitching staff is still full of No. 3 and 4 starters at best, without the 1990s Rangers level offense you would need to smite opponents into submission.

When I look at the Jays' roster, I see a lot of question marks, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Can Travis Snider put it together at the major league level? Can Adam Lind string together a couple of good seasons? Can someone arrange for Drabek to go on lovely walks with Halladay to clear his head? etc.

There is a lot of upside to the Jays if everything breaks right, but I don't think there is a high chance of that happening this year, so you might as well stay the course. The BP prospect guys keep swooning on podcasts about the Jays' system, and AA in general keeps fleecing other GMs in trades. The Jays remind me more of the Rays, pre-playoffs, with a smart GM poised for a nice run at competition in the next few years, than the Royals (Moore can build a system but is woeful at the ML level) or Oakland (where Beane keeps tearing down the team, whether it's on his or ownership's behest).

plain_g said...

@MK, Ryan Madson just signed for 8.5mm, which isn't exactly the 4/44 boras corp wanted. he can't make people pay, he can only demand they pay. ultimately the market dictates the price.

Shane Leavitt said...

Why ever lock up your own players to long-term extensions then? Isn't there the same inherent risk of failure with "homegrown" players falling off a cliff as there is with an established star who would command a big FA contract underproducing?

In the Jays case, signing "homegrown" stars to deals like Romero 5yr/30 MM or Lind at 4yr/18 is a lot different than signing a FA like Fielder to mega years/dollars. Obvious different amount of risk.

NorthYorkJays said...

"Or I at least understood that spending by the team would follow revenue growth, and I'm not sure that the modest gains they've made over the past few years are enough to open up the fiscal floodgates."

We understand the concept of payroll rising in relation to revenues. What we're saying is that revenues are already high enough to support a more respectable payroll. Attendance + revenue sharing alone is higher than the Jays payroll, and we all know there's massive amounts of revenue being hidden because of the fact that Rogers owns both the team and the regional sports network.

Tao of Stieb said...

With regard to Sportsnet and other regional sports networks, here's the thing that I think people are missing when they talk about the TV rights fees that are getting jacked up:

A lot of these Fox/Comcast regional nets are actually paying rights fees that are loss-leaders and will not be recouped. That's because they need leverage in their future negotiations with broadcast distributors (cable/satellite)when it comes to their subscription fees. Those sorts of negotiations can be pretty nasty in the US, with cable companies yanking channels off the dial if they think they can get away with it. It creates irrational spending...

(Also, the ad market in the US is a lot more competitive than it is in Canada, and while the Jays' viewership numbers are high, their revenue per impression is probably lower than it is for their American counterparts.)

It's a different scenario here, where there is profound vertical integration, and there are rules now in place to arbitrate the subscriber fees in the case that a content provider (like Sportsnet) and a distributor (let's say Bell) can't come to an agreement on the subscription price.

And somewhere through all of that, it means that spending on sports properties is slightly more rational here than it is in some large American markets.

Take that as you may. We'd probably prefer a scenario where the Jays had their own network and everyone was paying $4/month for it to jack up the revenue stream directly attributable to the team, but that's not what exists, and it probably won't any time soon.

Gil Fisher said...

To what Tao has just said, I would add that Rogers Sportsnet's revenues are Arm's Length (largely). They come from advertisers and therefore reflect market rates. We wouldn't expect them to pay more for Jays content than they could sell in ad revenue.

Sportsnets revenue is about $210m and includes all the regional NHL contracts and everything else they broadcast. Would we expect their revenue from baseball ads to be more than 25-30% of their total revenue? That would mean their JAys related revenues would be about $50-60m. Based on that, I think the FMV of the Jays broadcast contract should be $35-40m.

It's not a cash cow.

Rogers can overspend on the Jays, but the incentive is to create Franchise Value.

Anonymous said...


You are 100% correct that broadcasters use sports programming as loss leaders and THEY ALWAYS HAVE. This is because it is an anchor to attract more viewers than its competition, build its brand and cross promote other shows and media entities. Look at all the Bob McCowan ads we have to sit through during a game. Rogers/Bell just paid 18x EBITDA for MLSE including assumed debt. That is WAY above what media properties sell for. Why? Because they want the content to build their brands. It's about value creation, not current revenue. I believe with the changing landscape, FMV of the Blue Jays broadcasts, especially as an exclusive anchor for national advertisers, is easily over $50mm, but we will never know.

Tao of Stieb said...

Here's the funny part about the MLSE acquisition: Rogers and Bell paid big for the entire property rather than risk the possibility of another player coming in, buying the Leafs and cranking up the broadcast rights fees. It's actually kinda clever.

There's a huge distinction between how cable entities pay for rights and how networks pay for rights for sports.

WilsonC said...

There's really two broad groups of fans who are criticizing the lack of this offseason:

1. Rational fans who have looked at the roster, think the team is close to contention, believes the team has the means to pursue expensive players, and are frustrated that ownership isn't spending more money to make the leap.

2. Rogers-is-cheap bandwagonners who are judging the team more by the amount of money they're spending than by the talent on the field, who refuse to look at any other ways of building beyond "spend, spend, spend!", sees the Jays as doomed to fail forever unless they give Fielder whatever he wants RIGHT NOW, and who consider anyone who disagrees with them a Rogers apologist.

There's middle ground, but in general, there's people who believe adding a player like Fielder would be a good move from a tactical standpoint, and people who are tired of not contending and are looking at throwing money around as a quick fix, consequences be damned!

I don't think it's fair to lump the two groups together, because the first is making rational arguments in favor of the Jays' going out and spending, whereas the second is making shortsighted demands and criticisms without looking at a thing past the payroll.

For the first group, however, I think it's important to ask yourself an important question: are you wishcasting more wins than a player like Fielder can realistically add, or do you believe strongly in the current talent core?

Adding Fielder (or a similar level of talent) makes sense only if you're confident the Jays have a current talent level of somewhere around 87+ wins (with no bounce back from Lind) and have money available to spend if they choose to. Below that, and they'd likely still fall short even with him. If that's true, take a step back and look at the age of the majority of the core players, and the highly regarded minor league system. It's true that Bautista could start to decline within a couple years, but there's so much pre-prime talent within the organization that they can offset his loss with maturation of talent elsewhere even if a whole lot of stuff goes wrong. If that roster is truly at the point where Fielder would make a difference in contention, then they almost have to be in a position where contention is realistic in the short term (as soon as 2012, more likely 2013) even without making a big free agent investment.

It's an interesting scenario where the exact same conditions that would make signing someone like Fielder a valid strategy (a strong core, near contention, able to sustain itself for several years), when coupled with the youth, make the decision to pass on him a valid strategy (let the talent mature, reap the benefits as the team grows on a lower budget, invest the financial flexibility in keeping the team at the top rather than getting there), and the cause for the frustration of many (the idea that the team's good enough to go for it) is a reason for optimism (the idea that the team's good, despite the question marks).

Be frustrated if you think a big free agent investment would make this team win, but don't lose sight of all the positives that make you think that.