Suck it Up
I’ve been chewing on this for a few weeks now, and figure it’s now or never to get it out because it’s entirely possible that Beeston scoops the sentiment if he gets cornered during tonights’ state-of-the-team gala by some blowhard, or completely hung out to dry by J.P. Recently, with it obvious that the Jays’ are not spending one red cent this offseason, Ricciardi has done a skillful job of transferring the growing hatred towards him onto ownership. With statements like:
“You have to pay to win, its much harder to win and win consistently with one hand tied behind your back then having the handcuffs off.”
“Since I’ve been here, when we’ve had the resources to be active we’ve been active – very, very active,” Ricciardi said. “We haven’t made any major moves this winter. That’s true. I think the fans will be smart enough to know why.”
J.P. is clearly and openly blaming ownership for not giving him a fighting chance and/or accepting mediocrity. Then Geoff Baker raised the idea that management was deliberately tanking the team for years in order to buy the Dome (how long has he been sitting on his revelation?). and the blogosphere (see the Southpaw and Brattain for starters) has jumped on board this train of thought.
Short memories! Whether or not the low payroll rebuilding period had ulterior motives, for better or worse, that was part of the “plan” – dump the fat and draft a bunch of college kids who are more reliable and could be on the team in a few years, and then when payroll goes back up, get over the top with some choice free agents. Rogers came through on that deal – only 3 years ago the Jays signed Ryan and Burnett to huge contracts, leaving them second in the majors in commitments over the following 5 years. Then came Frank Thomas for more big bucks, and the plan was Lilly and Meche to a couple more monster contracts, but they had to settle on hemorrhaging cash on Wells with the granddaddy of them all in what can only be described as an attempt to appease fans gone wrong. Payroll doubled over three years – this is indifferent management? A hamstrung GM?
Anyway, that’s ancient history, and no doubt this off-season has been frustrating as hell (you think it’s bad on you…try blogging on a stove that’s about as hot as it is outside in Toronto right now) and the optics terrible. The free agent market has absolutely crashed, and the Jays’ haven’t spent a dime on all the bargains (Adam Dunn for 5 million? Dear god.) out there, so the growing sentiment is that ownership must have completely given up on the team and is looking to cut costs and finish in third for the next 15 years.
But J.P. also said that the payroll has heading up to 120 million in the very near future, which would make this a one year blip. And unless you think that the market is going to go back to booming next year, that is the right thing to do. Signing Jason Giambi for 5-6 million dollars would unquestionably be a bargain, and would make next season minorly more enjoyable to watch (mostly due to the moustache), but you are flat-out delusional if you think it’s going to push the Jays into the playoffs. Even dropping the bomb on Ramirez wouldn’t do it. The Jays simply don’t have the rotation or the offence that is close to competing in 2009 barring a miracle year of no injuries, rookies breaking out, and career years all rolled together.
Don’t believe that? Doesn’t matter! Seeing that Rogers is a public company, and not a private plaything, let’s both go to the board, who have to represent their shareholders and try to make a profit. (Please, please, can we all agree to can the “Rogers has lots of money” crap? It’s making online writing look as massively uninformed as everyone thinks it is). You lay out all the reasons for hope next year, how you have to spend money to make money, etc, etc. I’m going to wait until you’re done and say “yeah, but much more so in 2010” and walk out. (I might hold up a graph of attendance being up six years running – the Jays only team in the majors that can say that – on my way out in case anyone’s worried about the fan base deteriorating).
Who important is declining? Rolen – not far to go. Vernon on D for sure, but sluggers often have their best years in their early 30’s. Ryan – I think the bullpen proved last year it can make do. At risk of being lost to free agency? Overbay – get ready for Cooper. Halladay of course is the big worry, but if he’s going to be resigned, what better way to do it than making a push in his contract year?
Now who is going to be better in two years than one? Loads. Adam Lind is on his way up. You’d better believe Travis Snider will be better at 22 than 21. Alex Rios and Aaron Hill will be in their prime. Brett Cecil and J.P. Arencibia will be ready. David Purcey, Brandon League, Casey Janssen, Jeremy Accardo, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch are all very young arms with some real upside that are just getting their act together.
The only way the Jays are going to see the playoffs in the monstrous AL East this century is with good timing – keeping wasted, crowd-pleasing money spent on patch jobs like Eckstein last year into the bank until it can be combined with an injection of youth. I don’t understand how fans can criticize the team for holding out false hope year after year and ending up with mediocrity and in the same breath be outraged when money isn’t frittered away on a season when the competition is the fiercest it has been in years and the rookies are way too raw. This team has to take a year off eventually, and this is the perfect time to do it. I doubt anyone will come out and say that tonight, but isn’t it obvious that’s what’s happening – and that it’s not a entirely bad idea? Suck it up, fans – oh how it would make this bleak off-season seem so much more bearable if Beeston used his interim status to shoot some cold, hard truth from the hip.