Tagged: Mark Shapiro

Contract Demands Aside, Let’s Just Enjoy Watching Joey Bats This Season.

USA TODAY Sports Images

USA TODAY Sports Images

 

It’s been a few days since Jose Bautista’s shot across the bow at Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins regarding his contract negotiations or lack there of.

It also seems like many Blue Jays fans have had a few days to digest the take it or leave it extension demand and the 150 million or perhaps higher demand depending on who you want to believe.

As for Mark Shapiro saying they wouldn’t negotiate through the public or the media, I’m sure they can’t be overly disappointed that the 150 million number went public, for all we know they could have been the one’s that let it leak out to the media in the first place. After an off-season like this past winter Lord knows the Blue Jays management needs all the PR help they can get.

I don’t blame Jose Bautista for the stance he is taking with the contract negotiations, he is a smart guy, he knows that he has been paid way under his market value over the life of his contract and is looking to get paid what he deems he is worth. Will he get a five year deal like he is asking? I highly doubt it, I’m sure at most teams will offer him a four year deal with a team option on a fifth year, Even that to me would be generous for a player getting up there in age. If it were me the most I’d be willing to give would be three years with a option on a fourth year.

I also think that there will be a team out there willing to overpay on a contract to Bautista, but I can guarantee that it won’t be the Blue Jays that do it. I also believe that when the dollar amount of the demand went public the fan base turned from pro Bautista on the issue to pro Blue Jays management and when Bautista walks at the end of the year it will take most of the heat off of Shapiro and Atkins.

This is after all a business and the Blue Jays have a budget that they have to live within, regardless of whether or not you think Rogers should spend like the big market team that in reality they are. Giving Bautista 30 million a season may not be such a huge deal over the next couple of years, but once his decline sets in and the time comes to re-sign Josh Donaldson to a big money deal, paying Bautista 30 million a year won’t look nearly as good as it might have seemed at the time.

There is also an argument to be made and it may not be just me being paranoid but there is no guarantee that Rogers will keep a payroll as high as it has been the last few years, even though I’ve made plenty of arguments over the years that they should be high spenders. If the team doesn’t keep winning I could see Rogers pulling back the reigns on the money. It wouldn’t be the first time and quite honestly I have zero faith in Rogers as an ownership. It be a pretty easy out for Shapiro and Atkins to use the lack of payroll availability when they explain why they couldn’t re-sign both Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

All that aside, lets enjoy watching the Blue Jays go out and win another division and hopefully have a longer play-off run than this past season. Lets also remember a pissed off Jose Bautista is more fun to watch than a non pissed off Bautista.

With A New Regime In Town It’s Time For A Fan Fest

Courtesy @bluejays

Courtesy @bluejays

It’s that time of year again.

It’s the time that I again get on my soapbox and bemoan the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have their heads stuck in the sand and haven’t done away with the current format of their Winter Tour and moved towards a more fan friendly type of event, like a fan festival.

New President Mark Shapiro hasn’t even been in his current position three months yet so the Winter Tour thing was most likely on the bottom of his list of things to do when he arrived in town. But one would think with the rising popularity of the team the past few years the organizers of the Winter Tour would realize that they must change the current format of the tour.

For example, the Toronto portion of their current  Winter Tour had an autograph session in a mall in Newmarket on Wednesday night. The event was slated to start at 6:30, due to the crowd that lined up early the line was cut off at 1:30 pm. There is an autograph session scheduled in Ottawa for Saturday morning and I imagine the same thing will happen there. This isn’t the first time this has happened as there were people turned away from events last year as well.

I’d also like to believe that Shapiro is enough of a forward thinker, he’s already renamed the “State of the Franchise’ to “The Leadoff”, that improving the fan experience is a big part of his job, it’s even a point he has brought up since he took the job. He also has the experience in improving the fan experience at the ballpark, he had a big part in the renovations at Progressive Field making it more fan friendly when he was the President in Cleveland. They even have “Tribe Fest” which they starter in 2013.

So I am proposing, just as I did last year, that the Blue Jays host a fan festival. They can host it during the third weekend in January and have it at the Rogers Centre. They can have autograph sessions, Q and A sessions with current players, heck they can even trot out some of the Alumni and the TV and radio broadcasters like other teams do. They could do what they do in Oakland during their fan fest and host a “garage sale” where they sell off game worn jerseys, broken bats, Spring training jerseys and other game used items. They could even do clubhouse tours. They could charge a fee of 10 to 20 dollars and have the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Jays Care foundation. It would be a win-win situation for all involved, the fans would have a much better experience than the current Winter Tour provides and the Blue Jays would get some well deserved good will among the fan base.

The time has come, and with new leadership at the top it is my hope that they see the potential that is out there in doing a fan festival and dropping their current Winter Tour.

You can thank me later Mr. Shapiro.

 

 

The Tuesday Night Notebook

David J. Phillip/AP

David J. Phillip/AP

 

The Blue Jays Winter Tour is well underway and today we learned that Aaron Sanchez has been training this off-season with Marcus Stroman. We also learned that Sanchez had added 25 pounds, Sanchez stated that his goal was to build up durability in order to be in the starting rotation this season, although he also says he hasn’t been told by the team to prepare to start the season in the rotation. I would assume that the Jays would give Sanchez the chance to start this Spring and with Drew Storen addition it does give the Jays a little more depth in the back-end of the bullpen, and Sanchez’s addition to the rotation would improve what some experts have called a mediocre rotation. It would also most likely bump Jesse Chavez into bullpen as the long man, a role he has experience in as he was in that role in Oakland prior to last season.

We also learned thanks to a pair of Jamie Campbell tweets that Brett Cecil’s calf muscle that he injured in the playoffs is completely healed and he will be ready come the start of Spring Training next month. Campbell also tweeted that if the Blue Jays had made the World Series Cecil would have pitched thanks to the intensified treatment he received during the playoffs. That doesn’t really surprise me considering there was talk that if the Jays had advanced Cecil would have been available, I also remember hearing that he was throwing off a mound during one of the off days during the ALCS.

GIBBY ON SHORT LEASH?

Stephen Brunt made an appearance on The Brady and Walker show (watch here) on Tuesday and when asked about just how long of a leash John Gibbons has with the new regime Brunt responded with saying he thinks Gibby is on a short leash and if things go south early it could be a very different conversation. I know that Gibbons was Alex Anthopoulos’ hire and the new regime inherited him and he isn’t probably their first choice to manage the team but at the time of AA’s dismissal it would have added even more vitriol to the PR nightmare that was happening. I also think that Gibbons deserves a long leash this season, in fact he deserves the full season here at the very minimum. That’s what winning a division and winning a playoff round the previous season will do for a manager. I would like to think that all of this talk is just that. I’m smart enough to realize that sports talk radio shows in Toronto like to make something out of nothing, they’ve been doing it for years with the Maple Leafs. But, just for fun let’s go back to 2002 when Mark Shapiro took over as General Manager of the Indians, he inherited Charlie Manuel as the manager. Shapiro had every intention to have Manuel manage the Indians for the full season- and he would have-but Manuel, who was in the last year of his contract, approached Shapiro about a contract extension and wanted to know if he was in the teams plans beyond the 2002 season. Shapiro abruptly fired him.

The big difference with the two managers is that Gibbons is under contract for 2017 as well, thanks to his rolling option in his contract.

AA’s OTHER JOB OFFER

Thanks to Bob McCown we now know what one of Alex Anthopoulos’ other job offers were before signing on with the L.A Dodgers. McCown’s co-host on Prime Time Sports. McCown said on Tuesday (watch here) that he and AA had a long conversation about broadcasting and the possibility of AA becoming Bobcat’s sidekick. McCown has even gone as far as asking Anthopoulos to come in and co-host for a week. Thanks to the Dodgers, we will never now if AA would have been any good at radio. Maybe after he’s done with baseball he’ll get into radio.

 

The Thursday Notebook

Getty Images

Getty Images

 

With the Arbitration deadline slowly approaching MLBTR’s Matt Swatrz goes into detail on Josh Donaldson’s upcoming Arbitration case. All told he figures that Donaldson is due for a $7.7 million raise from last years salary of $3.4 million. He compares Donaldson’s case to that off Chris Davis’ arbitration case in 2014 when he was awarded a record $7.7 million raise. Swartz argues that Davis’ 2014 wasn’t a MVP winning season and that Donaldson can use that argument to cement his case.  Realistically we all knew that Donaldson was going to get a huge raise in 2016 and that is the one thing that maybe holding things up when it comes to player signings as they have to stick relatively to their budget.

Speaking of the budget, rumors are floating around that the Blue Jays are looking into Fernando Rodney. Rodney would be a good depth piece. If you take away his stint with Seattle last season where he was absolutely dreadful he’s been a fairly reliable reliever and has had some good seasons as a closer in Tampa. With the Blue Jays lack of depth in the bullpen I would like to think that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are smart enough to realize that an incentive laden type of contract offer for Rodney might just get a deal done. Sure, there are other names still out there but none with the track record that Rodney has had over the recent years, and as much as his stupid arrow he does after a save and his inability to wear his hat properly he would be a smart signing for the Jays.

It appears that former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has landed on his feet reportedly taking a front office job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I wish him well in his new endeavor. I won’t be like some of the Blue Jay fans who hold AA’s departure at the feet of Shapiro. AA didn’t leave because of Shapiro, if fans really want someone to blame put it squarely on the feet of Rogers who mishandled the President job and replacement search with hilarity. While it seems that some fans have decided that they can’t move on from AA’s departure, may I remind them that the chapter on AA’s time has closed, just like it has with any other popular player, manager and executive. All it takes is another winning year for the Blue Jays and the fans will soon become fans of the new regime. Most were ready to run AA out-of-town at the All-Star break, how winning changes things.

With the Hall of Fame inductees now announced, it was interesting reading former Blue Jay Roy Halladay’s tweets renouncing P.E.D users from entering the HOF, Interestingly enough Roger Clemens accused Halladay of using amphetamines during his time in Toronto. It should be pointed out that Clemens was only a teammate of Halladay’s for one month. Halladay was a September call-up in 1998 which was Clemens last season with the Blue Jays, so I find it hard to believe that Clemens would have paid enough attention to a rookie call-up to see if or what they were actually taking. It should also be noted that Halladay never failed a drug test in his big league career so maybe Clemens should be keeping his mouth shut.

The Wednesday Night Notebook

 Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

 

Another day, Another Free Agent pitcher off the market as Scott Kazmir signed a three-year 48 million dollar deal with the Dodgers. The deal includes an opt out after one year. These opt outs have become to contracts today what no trade clauses were to contracts of the past.

Thing is, unlike Commissioner Rob Manfred, I think these opt out clauses are great for both the player and the ball club that signs said player. In Kazmir’s case if he has a great year with the Dodgers, which he probably will, he can opt out and gain even more money in signing a deal next winter because of the lack of depth and names in next years Free Agent class. Quite honestly with the type of money that has been thrown around on pitching this year how could you blame Kazmir or any other pitcher for asking for a opt out clause after a year or two, It’s not like the money tree that surrounds Major League Baseball teams is about to dry up any time soon.

It also is a sign of change in how front offices across baseball will have to do business with potential Free Agent signings. I said many times on twitter after the David Price trade that if the Blue Jays wanted to be competitively in on the Price market this winter, which they weren’t, that they would have to be willing to offer seven years at 210 million and offer an opt out after three or four years. Chances are that a player will opt out when the clause in the contract kicks in, and in Price’s case, it would allow the team to get out of having to pay him in his declining years.

Having said all that, it’s a fact that in the future if the Blue Jays want to be competitive with Free Agent starting pitchers down the road then they will have to include the reality of having to offer up opt out clauses in the negotiations. In fact in any long-term negotiations with an elite pitcher in his prime if I was the one in the negotiating room I would insist on an opt out clause after three to four years for the very reason I pointed out about not being stuck paying big money during a pitchers declining years. I’m sure though that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have that all figured out seeing that they are intelligent guys, despite what some fans would have you believe.

With the list of available arms, both starters and relievers, dwindling as we enter January it is becoming more apparent to me that the Blue Jays will leave both Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna in the bullpen for 2016. There isn’t room in the Starting rotation like there was last season, and with an open competition for the fifth spot between Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez up coming this spring, and the lack of depth in the pen, it’s safe to say the pen is where the pair will be in 2016. The current bullpen for the Blue Jays is Osuna, Sanchez, Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Bo Shultz and one of either Chavez, Hutchison or an arm off whats left of the free agent scrap heap. Out of those names there are only three pitchers that I would consider trusting in a high leverage spot, Osuna, Sanchez and Cecil. I would have included Tepera and his good numbers against lefties but with Cecil being dominant against lefties it cancels out any advantage that you would get with Tepera.

It also brings up another discussion. An idea I saw on a Facebook group through a tweet that may really seem at first like a ridiculous idea but the more I think about it the more I think it’s a move the Blue Jays may have to think about if they want to improve their pitching. Trading Devon Travis for pitching help. I know it seems crazy but with the emergence of Ryan Goins showing that he can handle the rigors of playing every day at second base and making big improvements at the plate, it really is an idea that I can get behind. Of course the one problem with the idea that wasn’t brought up is the fact that Travis is coming off of exploratory shoulder surgery and there is no guarantee they were able to fix what was ailing him in the first place, there is also the thought that he could now be tagged as injury prone which would drop his trade value. Lastly Travis isn’t expected to be ready until late April or early May and I’m going to be real curious to see if he is able to carry over this year’s numbers before the injury into next season. Here’s hoping that he can. Of course they could always hang onto Travis in case, and there is a really good chance it happens, Troy Tulowitzki goes down with an injury during the season. As they say, you can never have enough depth. Right?!?

I suppose there is always that hope that the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona can find himself this spring and be a contributor to the big club. Heck, maybe Drew Hutchison will find his old form from a year ago and show that this years form was a blip on the radar screen.

Either way, watching the pitching battles this Spring should be awfully interesting.

 

Shapiro Meets The Toronto Media

shapiro

 

New Blue Jays’ President Mark Shapiro spent some of his first day of his new job meeting the media and laying out his plan for the Toronto Blue Jays going forward and as he laid out some of his ideas and how he likes group collaboration within his baseball people, it may have made it a little easier to see where former GM Alex Anthopoulos had said he didn’t think things were a “good fit”. Where as Anthopoulos seemed to be a guy who operated like he had a million ideas go through his head at once, and other than going to ownership if money was needed to be added to payroll had pretty much free reign on the baseball operations side of the Blue Jays leaving Paul Beeston to the business side of things and dealing with the board of directors. Shapiro will be more of a guy that wants a decision to be made as a collaboration of information by the group of the baseball people in the front office to come up with the best possible decision for the ball club.

The biggest take away from Shapiro’s introductory press conference was the goal of building on this years accomplishments and making sure the goal is to win a World Series, but Shapiro also talked about keeping an eye towards the future in terms of building up the base of prospects in the organization, stating that the most successful teams do a good job of doing both and that should be the goal.

The first order of business for Shapiro was naming Tony LaCava the interim General Manager while Shapiro looks for a permanent one, personally I would love to see  the interim tag dropped and LaCava become the permanent GM. Shapiro also said that John Gibbons will be back and all the baseball people have been invited back for next season, so much for some fans thinking that AA’s departure would begin a total housecleaning of the baseball people. Another thing with Gibby coming back for 2016, it also means that his 2017 option will kick in come New Years Day, Although the new GM could go a different direction come the end of next season.

LaCava said that the first decisions will be looking at the player options for next year, adding that a decision on R.A Dickey’s option hasn’t been decided on contrary to reports last week saying that it would be. I think the Blue Jays would be crazy not to pick up the option as a pitcher that can throw 200 innings at the price of 12 million dollars is a bargain in the current market.

Overall I have a good feeling about the job that Shapiro is going to do with the Blue Jays going forward. It appears that the payroll will stay close to where it has been the past few years which is a positive and with roughly 30 million coming off the books it gives the Blue Jays some flexibility with what they want to do this winter.

I would say to the naysayers out there, and there seems to be a more than a few out there, give Shapiro a chance to show what he can do, yes it’s disappointing that AA walked away but there is nothing that can be done about that. What is done is done, it’s time to move on to a new era in Blue Jays history with excitement and optimism that 2015 was more than a one off and that it will be an annual thing to watch the Blue Jays contend for the playoffs every year.

A Look At New Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro

TONY DEJAK / AP FILE PHOTO

TONY DEJAK / AP FILE PHOTO

It’s now official, Mark Shapiro will be the next President and CEO. Shapiro will start his new job at the end of the 2015 season.

Shapiro has said he won’t comment on his new job or what other roles he’ll have at the moment as not to cause any distractions. Shapiro did release a statement this morning however.

Through my 24 years as part of the Cleveland Indians, I have developed a deep emotional and civic attachment to the Indians organization and the Cleveland community.  The root of those ties is in the personal relationships that my family and I have built.  While weighing those bonds carefully and seriously, I feel the unique and compelling nature of the Blue Jays President/CEO position warranted my consideration.  This position represents a unique opportunity for me and one that I felt was the right new challenge to undertake.  With mixed emotions, I will assume the Toronto Blue Jays CEO position upon the conclusion of the 2015 season.  As the Indians organization moves forward, I am confident the current leadership represents a strong foundation to field a championship caliber team moving forward.  The relationships we have enjoyed here will be lifelong bonds and will ensure that I will always be a fan of the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Indians organization.

Shapiro and Indians owner Paul Dolan will have a joint news conference this afternoon from Cleveland.

Shapiro started with the Indians back in 1991 and worked his way up through the Indians front office. In his early days with the Tribe Shapiro over saw their farm system, eventually becoming the assistant GM under John Hart during the run of great Indians teams in the late nineties and when John Hart stepped aside as the Indians GM at the end of the 2001 season Shapiro was promoted to GM.

Shapiro oversaw the rebuild of the Indians roster when he took on the GM job, he made several shrewd deals but the one that many Indians fans will highlight was the Bartolo Colon deal made midway through the 2002 season when Colon was sent to the Montreal Expos for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. Sizemore and Lee played a big role in the Tribe’s resurgence a few years later.

Shapiro has also been named Executive of the year twice, 2005 and 2007, In 2007 the Indians won the AL Central before losing the ALCS in seven games to Boston.

Shapiro stayed on as GM till the end of the 2010 season when he was promoted to President of the Indians taking over the job from team owner Paul Dolan.

During his time as the Indians President he has gone “all-in” on the world of Sabremetrics as explained by this piece done by Ben Baumer back in February.

The Indians earned a reputation for investing heavily in analytics in the years following “Moneyball” under Mark Shapiro’s leadership, and they have shown no signs of deviating from that course. Shapiro is now the team president, and his protégé, current GM Chris Antonetti, commands a staff with a diverse and deep set of skills.

The Indians grabbed one of the best in the business when they made Keith Woolner their director of baseball analytics in 2007. Woolner has technical degrees from MIT and Stanford, and his prior experience includes time with both a database company (Oracle) and a statistical software company (SAS) in addition to his work as an influential author at Baseball Prospectus.

Unlike some clubs, wherein statistical analysts give something akin to expert witness testimony, the Indians have integrated analytics into everything they do, so that both technical and non-technical staff members are up to speed on the metrics the team uses.

The Indians have dedicated IT support for their mature baseball information system, which frees their analysts to focus on long-term statistical modeling projects. Assisting Woolner with this work are Sky Andrecheck and Max Marchi, both of whom have graduate degrees in statistics. Marchi literally wrote the book on analyzing baseball data in the increasingly popular programming language called R.

Shapiro also oversaw renovations to Progessive Field in Cleveland, so he has experience in that which will come in handy as Rogers is planning on doing some major renovations to the Rogers Centre that includes installing grass to replace the turf.

Shapiro is know for his ability to delegate and believe in the people that works for him. In a Paul Hoynes piece for Cleveland.com, Shapiro’s ability to not micro manage his people is highlighted when explaining why the Indians pulled the trigger when they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011.

With the Indians, all baseball and business decisions run through Shapiro. On the baseball side, he has gone out of his way to give Antonetti the freedom to make trades and other player acquisitions. When Antonetti traded No.1 picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011, Shapiro said he wouldn’t have done it, but he OK’d the move because he believed in Antonetti.

Shapiro was on a list of possible replacements for the Commissioner’s job and also sits on Major League Baseball’s ticketing Committee as well as the Competition Committee.