Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Gazelle scampers off freely into the distance

As a self-styled "intelligent" Blue Jays fan, we can completely understand the rationale and the motivation for the Jays letting Alex Rios and the $60 million or so left on his long term contract just walk away, without any sort of compensation.

What the Jays get from allowing Rios and the entirety of his contract to be claimed by the Chicago White Sox is a significant amount of payroll flexibility in both the short term and down the road. It will allow the team to be a bit more dexterous in the free agent market, should they choose to indulge, and it will allow them to keep some of the young talent that they have emerging through their system.

(Don't forget that, if they are fortunate, the Jays are going to have to cough up a big contract for Travis Snider before the end of deals to which Rios and Wells were signed.)

So we get it. It makes sense. It's rational. It was probably the right thing to do.

Then there is the "fan" in us, who is totally irrational and has spent roughly about a thousand hours over the past couple of years irrationally feeding into the hopes and dreams and misery and agony of Jays fans through this very blog. And that part of us is really finding it difficult to root, root, root for the home team's corporate ownership's bottom line.

Fiscal forbearance and fiduciary diligence are commendable. We're certain that those who hold a financial stake in Rogers will greatly appreciate the fact that one of the divisions has found ways to cut costs going forward. We're also pretty sure that at year's end, Tony Viner and Nadir Mohammed and Phil Lind will all be compensated handsomely through bonuesses for their willingness to hack away at this particular division's overhead.

But for those of us who hold an emotional stake in the team, sending away a two-time All-Star for absolutely no return, even if he is underperforming, is awfully tough to swallow.

And maybe the brain trust can scoff at such sissy-boy emotionality around a big money decision like this, but it is those same emotions that make us do irrational things, like spend inordinate amounts of money on Blue Jays tickets, merchandise and paraphenalia, or stupid amounts of our summer watching three hours worth of sponsored programming on their television services.

If the Jays are able to outsmart the market and pull in players on more economical short term contracts in the next few years, then fine. But if the guys in the corporate suite are about to take this money off the field and tuck it away in their own coffers, then they have to know that the fanbase isn't going to stand for it.

Above all, sports franchises try to sell hope. But if what they're going to sell us in the forseeable future us hope for a miracle, we're not sure that we can buy in to that.

As for the Gazelle
Alex Rios got a raw deal from the fans in Toronto, and got shoehorned into roles that didn't fit his skillset. Here's hoping that a fresh start with a team in contention brings out the best in him.

Vaya con dios, El Gacela.


Mattt said...

Well written, well said.

Not much to add other than hoping that 'fiscal restraint', as demonstrated by this move, at least ensures that the team remains here in Toronto.

Now I know there is no immediate danger of a Toronto exit, but the Expos and Grizzlies have made me permanently paranoid...

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Great post, Tao.

I'm with you, this was a move that had to be made.

The fan in me still believes; believes that the money will be reinvested in the team, and that the Jays will rise again. That's the only choice I have. In the AL East, all I can hope for is a miracle, because that's what it's going to take.

The Ack said...

I'm sounding like a broken record, I know, but ownership has pretty much run out of currency with me. Ted's dead.

I just need some time, I guess.

Plus, I don't need Blair running with the "for sale" angle. As unlikely as the possibility of moving is - because I don't believe there's any way MLB completely abandons Canada - you're talking to a guy who's childhood hockey team skipped town for a home in the desert. Those scars don't heal.


shortwaveboy said...

Well said Tao.

I take one exception of course. The bit about him being shoehorned is no more true for him than anybody else. And don't forget that he got paid in keeping with those lofty 30-30 expectations.

Darren Priest said...

According to Tabler, Cito said it's easier to play CF than the corner positions. Something about it being easier to get a read on the ball. In any case, I don't get why playing RF would have any effect on Rios' success at bat.

I won't miss him in the least, but I still think my "theory" about the 40 million payroll passes the initial sniff test. My feeling is Rogers doesn't care about baseball -- it's just a division that has to pay for itself like any other. So if the Jays are going to win, they are going to have to do it Rays/Marlins style.

If the economics of the last few months have taught us anything, it's that an executive will always want more no matter how much they already have or where it's coming from...anyways, I am veering off topic at this point. I'm going to go listen to "If I had a Rocket Launcher"

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Not sure if you guys read this, but I'm down with the Marlins route:


The Ack said...

Leave it to Joe Morgan to provide comments that force me to rally behind the team. I know the guy is a legend as a baseball player, but...come on. Check out this ridiculousness:

"I do not understand the Toronto Blue Jays. First they float Halladay out there and then they let a player go without any compensation. I just don't understand it. They say something about giving them financial flexibility. If you get another player, you'll have to pay for them too. I don't understand it, but then again I don't understand what they've been doing up there."

I love how he uses the ol "up there". Somebody put him out to pasture already.

Anonymous said...

You can choose to believe this or not, but when asked about the Jays (and they think its funny how many questions they get from institutional investors about the Jays since its such a tiny part of the company), they have said that they will provide more money for payroll when and if it is warranted.

They were led to believe that it was warranted to boost payroll and it didn't work out. Anyone who thinks the team is close anytime in the next few years is delusional. If the farm is restocked and the team is rebuilt properly, they will be there when it matters.

woefully Irrelevant white Guy said...

@ Anon, you are right. They can't compete in this divsion as presently constituted. I will say that Tao got it right about not getting anything in return OR the corporate greed of Viner and Mohammed. I've herad people in NYC say that the Rogers want to go the way of the Marlins and put the money in their pocket...but will the local cult become what the Expos' cult was? And then the team was gone? I've heard that Mark Cuban wants a team.......

Anonymous said...

J.P. Ricciardi said the move was not “a financial dump,”


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

We won't know until the off-season whether it was "a financial dump" or not.


Brendan said...

You know how the Raptors are always saying that international players want to come to Toronto because it's so "multicultural" and stuff? Wouldn't it be sweet if some European rich dude was convinced to buy the Jays as a lark, and since he would have little to no knowledge of the game, he just bought the most knowledgeable guys he could find, and just let them do their thing with a payroll of...let's say 150 mil or so? Awesome. Interbrew doesn't count, of course.

The Ack said...

I'm going from point A to about G here, but the "It's not a salary dump" party line will be put to test in the next week when we see if/how many of the Jays top-5 picks from this year's draft sign.

After the pre-season bravado of "we're investing more in the draft this year", it will be telling if they fail to deliver.

matthias @ mopupduty said...

"when we see if/how many of the Jays top-5 picks from this year's draft sign."

So true. Although its going to be hard to "go to the board" and justify throwing cash at players that are years away from the majors.

Darren Priest said...

Rogers should be in a position to make lots of money off the team even if they doubled payroll. Is there a Blue Jays revenue stream they don't control?

I say this with no knowledge of the subject whatsoever, of course.

I am outlining a plan that sees Fidel and Raul Castro buying the team and sending all Cuban prospects to us.

Drunk already on a Tuesday? Why do you ask?

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I wish I was, Priesty.

And Ack, you are wise.

MK Piatkowski said...

If this is clearing a path to go after Jason Bay in the off-season, I'm all for it.

brandon s said...

Does anyone else sense a Carpenter-esque showing from Rios in the coming seasons?

MK Piatkowski said...

Oh, I'm sure he's going to be amazing in Chicago. But I don't think it was going to happen here. I honestly think it's going to be the change of situation that will finally unlock him.

Anonymous said...

I don't, Bubbles, because I think he was juicing when he hit 24.

The power outage across the MLB this year is a course of constant mirth for me.

Anonymous said...

wow, I reverse the c and s in that word. That has to be an undiagnosed learning disability.

dave said...

And am I the only one that is weary of rebuilding after seeing what Baltimore has going for it?

Shit ain't getting easier and you have to go for it eventually.

Tao of Stieb said...

I would hope that if the Jays pull together just the right combo of players through their own system, and they are competing or out in front in July/August, that Rogers would jump on the opportunity, plow in some extra money to take someone else's salary dump for a rental and go for it.

At this point, the Jays' margin is so slim that any opportunity that they get in any given year could very well be the last good opportunity they have for a decade.

Because until there is a radical realignment, the Jays will never again build a dynasty .

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

@ Dave: I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about this; if we could combine the Orioles hitting, with the Blue Jays pitching, we'd have a dynasty.

I constantly swoon over Markakis and Jones.

Lord knows the Orioles don't have any pitching. We've got it in spades.

The Torontimore Blue Orioles.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

And I'm with MK: JASON BAY!!!1

Johnny G said...

The Orioles will have pitching in 2 years though...

Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta and Patton all in the pipe and look good.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I don't think the team will be any closer than they were this year. We needed a DH and that was it.

Ownership wouldn't pay for one, and look where we are. How many one-run losses would have ended differently if we had ONE more bat in the lineup?

So I really can't imagine the Jays getting to the point where they are "one more player away" and the owners somehow paying for it. They had their chance at the start of this season, but decided to make everything rest on the production of a 20-year old kid.

DoubleA said...

I don't think Rios is going to go all "Carpenter-esque". I'm thinking more like Jose Cruz Jr-esque

Anonymous said...

"Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta and Patton all in the pipe and look good."

1 will get hurt, 1 will suck. 1 will be moved to the bullpen.

I'm not going to start worrying about the O's when they have the worst pitching in baseball. Maybe when they're like 5th worst.

Andy MC said...

I have been telling you people this all season !!! Rogers DOESN'T CARE about the Jays ! No matter what kinda cheap peice of shit product they put on the field, the same number of people will pay for it! SO...THIS WILL CONTINUE IF YOU DO NOT BOYCOTT ROGERS!!!!

pat said...

You know what? I hate that Rios left - he was my mancrush.
Any other people feeling the same way I do should cheer themelves up with Barry Zito's terrible song that's been floating around for the past few days

Seriously, it'll make you laugh.

Bye, gazelle.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Sheeeeeit, pat said it best: "Bye, gazelle."

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